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Penn State Women’s Volleyball Sweeps North Carolina A&T To Open NCAA Tournament

No. 13 Penn State women’s volleyball defeated North Carolina A&T in three sets (25-11, 25-19, 25-15) in Omaha, Nebraska late Thursday night to open the NCAA Tournament.

Middle blockers Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray contributed 16 kills on a combined .764 hitting without a single error between them.

How It Happened

Penn State started out the first set strong with kills from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Anastasiya Kudryashova and back-to-back kills from Jonni Parker to take a 6-3 lead over the Aggies. Thanks to strong hitting and blocking from Parker and freshman outside hitter Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, the Nittany Lions propelled their lead to 10-4.

The Aggies’ offensive errors only continued to help Penn State’s lead bringing its lead to 15-7 and a 4-0 scoring run. A block and kill by junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Hord also added to the Nittany Lions lead.

A combination of errors on North Carolina A&T’s end plus strong offense from Penn State gave the Nittany Lions the first set win at 25-11. Junior middle blocker Serena Gray and Fitzpatrick each had a kill to close out the set.

After tying the second set within the first few points, the Nittany Lions took a 9-6 lead thanks to a kill from Fitzpatrick and two kills from Kudryashova in addition to errors from the Aggies. Still, North Carolina A&T stayed right with Penn State.

Three kills by Gray and back-to-back aces from Fitzpatrick brought the Nittany Lions to a 16-10 lead over the Aggies. But kills by North Carolina A&T’s Courteney Pitt and Edie Brewer and a block by brewer closed the gap slightly to 18-14.

Ultimately, Penn State walked away with its second win of the night, 25-19, thanks to a kill by Fitzpatrick.

The Nittany Lions came out hot at the beginning of the third set, leading 7-2 thanks to a 6-0 scoring run. Strong hitting by Gray, Fitzpatrick, and Parker propelled Penn State to an 11-5 lead over the Aggies.

Penn State used an impressive 10-0 scoring run to extend the lead to 20-5 following attack errors from North Carolina A&T plus two kills from freshman Allie Holland.

Although it had its own hot streak, the Aggies couldn’t catch the Nittany Lions so late in the set. Penn State won the third set 25-15.

Fitzpatrick, Hord, and Parker all tied for nine kills on the night, while Gray finished with seven kills. Junior setter Gabby Blosson dished out 29 assists.

Player(s) Of The Match

Kaitlyn Hord & Serena Gray | Middle Blockers

Good lord! Hord and Gray couldn’t have asked for a better start to the tournament. The duo combined to hit .764 on the night without a single hitting error between them. Hord and Gray walked off the court with 16 kills and five total blocks under their belts, too.

What’s Next?

Penn State will face No. 4 seed Texas in the regional semifinals on Sunday, April 18. First serve times haven’t been announced just yet.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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