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No. 12 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Rutgers

No. 12 Penn State women’s volleyball kept rolling Friday night by sweeping Rutgers (25-15, 25-23, 25-19) to record its second straight win.

The convincing victory resulted in the Nittany Lions’ 27th consecutive triumph over the Scarlet Knights dating back to 1982.

How It Happened

Right side hitter Jonni Parker got things going for Penn State early on by recording a kill for the match’s first point. A few good plays from Rutgers gave the Scarlet Knights a quick advantage, but Penn State regained its lead at 6-4 thanks to a 3-0 run powered by kills from Serena Gray and Annie Cate Fitzpatrick. The latter later posted two straight service aces followed by an ugly service error.

The Nittany Lions took a 12-7 lead into the match’s first timeout, which was called by Rutgers. Following the break, Penn State continued its dominance and outscore the Scarlet Knights 6-2 before the visiting team took yet another timeout.

Things just kept on rolling for the Nittany Lions to close out the first set. A kill from Serena Gray sealed the deal, helping the team win the frame 25-15 and take a 1-0 lead in the match. Penn State finished the set hitting .393 with just four hitting errors.

Both teams’ play tightened greatly in the second set. Although Penn State jumpted out to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to a Maddy Bilinovic ace, the Scarlet Knights kept things close. Neither team led by more than two points until Rutgers took a 14-11 lead on an errant swing from Penn State’s Lauren Clark.

Rutgers took a 23-22 lead into a timeout, but two straight points from the Nittany Lions brought up set point, 24-23. Following yet another Rutgers break, a solo block from Fitzpatrick — a 5’11” hitter — solidified the second-game win for Penn State, 25-23.

Rutgers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the third game. The Scarlet Knights scored four straight points to open the frame. Next, a rare ball-handling error gave Penn State its first point of the set. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the set, 7-6, thanks to an ace from Parker.

Later, Penn State brought a 15-12 lead into a Rutgers timeout. The Nittany Lions took a 6-0 scoring run out of the break to go up 19-13 until they gave Rutgers a point via a service error.

Middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord sent one to the hardwood to set up match point, 24-17. A Rutgers attack error put the nail in the coffin, giving Penn State the set 25-19 and, as a result, the match 3-0.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions put on an absolute clinic offensively Friday night. The team hit .352 in the match and committed just 12 hitting errors compared to Rutgers’ 18. Gray posted eight kills on .700 hitting, while Hord closely followed behind with a match-high 12 kills on a .524 clip. Notably, Hord hasn’t posted a hitting error against Rutgers in her last four matches against the Scarlet Knights, including Friday’s contest.
  • Penn State’s “hot and cold” presence at the service line continued against the Scarlet Knights. The Nittany Lions recorded six aces but also committed 10 service errors, essentially providing half a set’s worth of free points to the visiting team. Fitzpatrick, who’s turned heads thanks to dynamic topspin on her serves, led the team with two aces.
  • Boy, does Russ Rose have Rutgers’ number. The Nittany Lions have now won 27 (!) straight matches over the Scarlet Knights dating back to 1982. Penn State leads the all-time series 35-9 and has dropped just one set to Rutgers over the massive win streak.

What’s Next?

Penn State (6-5) and Rutgers (2-11) will get right back to it with a rematch Saturday night to wrap up a two-match series. First serve from Rec Hall is set for 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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