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No. 12 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Downs Rutgers 3-0 To Sweep Series

No. 12 Penn State women’s volleyball swept Rutgers (25-11, 25-20, 25-16) yet again Saturday night to wrap up a two-match series.

For the second straight night, Penn State’s middle blockers showed out and powered the Nittany Lions’ offense. Freshman outside hitter Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, led the Nittany Lions with 11 kills and added five digs and two blocks.

How It Happened

Penn State came out swinging Saturday night to the tune of an early 4-1, which featured kills from Jonni Parker and Anastasiya Kudryashova and a pair of Rutgers attack errors. Parker stayed hot with another kill and an ace to put the Nittany Lions up 8-4.

An incredible defensive series that included a flashy dig from setter Gabby Blossom resulted in an emphatic block from Kudryashova, putting Penn State up 14-8. Another kill from the Rutgers transfer a moment later gave the Nittany Lions a 15-9 lead entering a media timeout.

Penn State erupted on a 3-0 run out of the break to increase its lead even further. Moments later, a separate 4-0 streak provided the Nittany Lions a 21-10 advantage late in the first frame. They took the set 25-11 thanks to a kill from middle blocker Serena Gray, continuing the hot start for Penn State’s middles.

Rutgers had the advantage early in the second frame thanks to separate three and four-point runs that put the Scarlet Knights up 8-5 early on. Penn State responded with a kill and an ace from freshman hitter Annie Cate Fitzpatrick. A 4-0 run helped Penn State tie Rutgers 12-12 and take the lead, 13-12, through a Parker kill kept alive by an impressive dig from libero Jenna Hampton.

Penn State truly took control of the set through a dominant 7-0 stretch midway through the frame. The offensive burst included two kills apiece for Parker and Fitzpatrick and a service ace from Hampton.

Despite a brief scare by Rutgers, Penn State won the second set 25-20 on a kill from middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord — her sixth of the match.

Both teams were locked at 2-2 to begin the third frame, but a 4-0 Penn State run forced Rutgers to call a timeout down 6-2. The Nittany Lions kept on rolling from then on out and took a commanding 17-9 following a long volley that culminated with an emphatic block by Hord and Kudryashova.

Finally, Penn State took the set 25-16 following a kill from Kudryashova that provided the knockout punch in yet another sweep over Rutgers.

Takeaways

  • Kaitlyn Hord owns Rutgers. The junior middle blocker posted eight kills on .533 hitting Saturday night without a single errant swing. She also added five total blocks. In her career against the Scarlet Knights, Hord’s racked up 38 kills and just a single hitting error.
  • An all-around offensive effort powered Penn State’s convincing win. Fitzpatrick led the team with 11 kills, while Parker (9), Hord (8), and Kudryashova (7) followed closely behind. Additionally, Blossom dished out 39 assists and 11 digs to record her seventh double-double of the season. As a whole, Penn State outhit .438 to .116 in the match.
  • It’s tough to overstate just how impressive Fitzpatrick has been this season despite being a true freshman. She led the team with 11 kills on .421 hitting Saturday and still ranks second on the team with 123 kills on the season. Additionally, she paces Penn State with 15 services aces so far this year, including two against the Scarlet Knights Saturday night. With half a season and almost her entire collegiate career left, the sky feels like the limit for Fitzpatrick.
  • It’s safe to say Penn State’s had its fair share of success against Rutgers in recent years decades. The Nittany Lions have now won 28 straight matches over the Scarlet Knights dating back to 1982. In that massive span, Penn State’s dropped just one set to the New Jersey natives.

What’s Next?

Penn State (7-5) will rest up before heading to Michigan State for a two-match series that’ll begin on Friday, March 19. First serve from East Lansing is currently up in the air, according to the team.

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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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