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No. 14 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Defeats No. 9 Minnesota In Four Sets

No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball (22-6, Big Ten 11-6) took down No. 9 Minnesota (17-8, Big Ten 12-5) in four sets on Friday night (25-18, 25-18, 20-25, 27-25).

Another evening of blocks from Kash Williams, who reached a career 1,500 kills in this match, plus a few surprise service aces, propelled the Nittany Lions to a victory.

How It Happened

Each team went into this match coming off a four-game win streak. With a top-15 matchup, there was a lot at stake for both teams.

The first set began with two of the Kash Williams kills that Penn State fans know all too well. The Golden Gophers showed their blocking skills early on, and Minnesota took an early 3-5 lead. A service ace by Maddy Bilinovic gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the night, 7-6.

The Gophers followed close behind and quickly stole back the lead. A series of kills from Minnesota extended its hold on the lead to three points, 12-15. The Nittany Lions bounced back quickly, with a kill and a solo block both coming from Allie Holland. A third service ace from Bilinovic put Penn State up by two and forced a Minnesota timeout 17-15

A few blocks and kills from Allie Holland and Alexa Markley increased the Nittany Lions’ lead to 21-17. A 5-0 scoring run helped propel Penn State across the finish line, and it wrapped up the first set with a 25-18 win.

Set two began with an exchange of points between the two teams. A back-to-back kill and block from Katie Clark finally gave Penn State the advantage it needed to put the score at 10-7. A kill from Alexa Markley made the Nittany Lions the first to reach 15, while Minnesota trailed by four.

A series of kills from Penn State and a service ace from Seleisa Elisaia increased the lead to 20-15 as Minnesota took its first timeout of the set. Katie Schumacher-Cawley attempted to challenge a ball ruled out, but a malfunction of the video review system forced the play to stand as called. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway, as a net violation handed set two to the Nittany Lions, 25-18.

Looking to close out the match, Penn State began set three with several kills from Kashauna Williams, but Minnesota didn’t hesitate to answer each point, tying the game at seven. Several Gophers kills gave Minnesota its biggest lead of the set, 10-14.

The Gophers finally found their footing, which put the Nittany Lions in their first real tough spot of the night, as they trailed the Gophers 12-19 and took their first timeout of the set. Two different scoring runs helped Penn State to make up some lost ground and put the team within three points of Minnesota. Despite a valiant effort, Penn State was unable to make up for lost ground and lost set three 20-25.

Kashauna Williams opened up play in the fourth set, followed by an Allie Holland service ace to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead. Minnesota showed up with the kills once again, going on a 3-0 scoring run to tie the set at eight. Schumacher-Cawley’s team responded with a scoring run of its own a bit later, extending the team’s lead to 15-12.

A service ace from Penn State’s Gillian Grimes extended the lead and forced a Minnesota timeout as the Gophers trailed 18-15. After a long volley ended in a Gophers kill, Penn State used its first timeout as Minnesota threatened to close in, 22-19.

A 4-0 scoring run from the Gophers tied the set at 22, forcing Penn State’s second timeout. As the teams battled to win the set and remained tied, both coaches challenged the same play, but both resulted in Penn State’s favor. A final Zoe Weatherington kill finished out the evening and gave the Nittany Lions their first win over a top-ten opponent this season.

Player of the Game – Maddy Bilinovic | Libero

Not only did Maddy Bilinovic have three service aces across the night, but she also had 15 digs. Bilinovic dove and rolled all across the court to make sure that the volleyball stayed off the ground, and her efforts paid off when it mattered most for the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next

Penn State will play another game in Rec Hall on Saturday, November 19 against No. 3 Wisconsin. First serve is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will commence with the annual Silent Set.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a junior in the Schreyer Honors College studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is a coffee addict, loves Taylor Swift, and can't wait to go to a concert again. Any questions can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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