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No. 14 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Drops Heartbreaker To No. 3 Wisconsin In Five Sets

No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball (22-7, Big Ten 11-7) lost in heartbreaking fashion to No. 3 Wisconsin (23-3, Big Ten 17-1) in five sets on Saturday night (19-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 12-15).

Kashauna Williams and Allie Holland had big nights, with 18 and 15 kills, respectively, but that wasn’t enough to propel the Nittany Lions past the Badgers.

How It Happened

Coming off of a much-deserved win over Minnesota on Friday night, Katie Schumacher-Cawley and her team were on the hunt for their sixth consecutive win. Saturday evening’s match featured Penn State’s annual Silent Set in which fans are asked to remain silent until the Nittany Lions score their ninth point. The practice started in 2019 as a way to support deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, including Penn State’s own alums, Jonni Parker, who wore the No. 9 jersey until her final year in the 2021 season.

The first set began with a Wisconsin serve, which allowed the Badgers to show off their skills early as they took a 6-4 lead. Wisconsin used one of its challenges early, as it disputed a call for a touch on the ball. The call was ultimately reversed, putting the Badgers up 8-5, soon followed by a Penn State timeout.

The Nittany Lions weren’t able to escape Wisconsin’s kills, and they soon fell behind 15-6. Finally, a kill from Katie Clark gave Penn State its ninth point, and Rec Hall erupted into cheers. Those cheers gave the Nittany Lions some much-needed momentum and closed the gap to six points, but they couldn’t catch up to the Badgers. Wisconsin took set one 25-19.

A long volley started set two, but the first point went to Penn State with a move we’re all too familiar with — a Kashauna Williams kill. A double block from the Badgers closed the gap and tied the teams at five all. With Rec Hall finally fired up, the Nittany Lions found some weak spots in the Badgers’ defense and took a 13-9 lead.

A beautiful double block from Allie Holland and Zoe Weatherington increased the Nittany Lions’ lead to 18-12, forcing Wisconsin’s first timeout of the set. Wisconsin immediately answered with a 3-0 scoring run, which led to a Penn State timeout. The Badgers nearly made a comeback, but a serve into the net from Wisconsin helped Penn State stay in the lead 22-19. A kill from Weatherington closed out the set with a 25-22 win.

Blocks were the name of the game to begin set three. Nearly every kill attempted by the Nittany Lions was blocked, allowing the Badgers to take an early 7-2 lead. Wisconsin continued to find breaks in the Penn State defense, increasing the team’s lead to 16-6.

A 3-0 scoring run from the Nittany Lions caused Wisconsin’s first timeout as Katie Schumacher-Cawley’s team continued to trail by seven, 18-11. Yet another scoring run put Penn State within three points at 21-18. The Nittany Lions nearly closed in, but a Wisconsin kill closed out the set 25-23.

The fourth set of the night began with a challenge from the Badgers that ultimately ruled in their favor, giving them an early lead of 2-0. Two back-to-back kills from Allie Holland put the Nittany Lions in the lead 8-6.

A service ace from Williams followed by a kill from Alexa Markley increased the Penn State lead to 15-11. Action from Weatherington and Williams kept the Nittany Lions ahead and forced a Badgers timeout as they trailed by five, 21-16. A service ace from Williams finished the set for Penn State 25-18.

The beginning of set five had Rec Hall roaring as Wisconsin had the first serve. Wisconsin pulled out ahead early with a 5-1 lead over the Nittany Lions, which forced a Penn State timeout. Three kills and a block from Weatherington tied the set at seven and forced a Wisconsin timeout.

A hitting error from Wisconsin put Penn State in the lead at 8-7 for the first time in the fifth set. The Badgers closed the gap and tied the score at 11-11, leading Penn State to its second and final timeout. A net violation gave the advantage back to Wisconsin. A final kill from Wisconsin pushed it across the finish line to finish out the final set 15-12.

Takeaways

  • Every single Wisconsin team member knew exactly where to hit the ball on kills. With such strong arms that put an incredible amount of speed to the balls they were hitting, it’s no wonder the Nittany Lions weren’t always able to get to them. It’s easy to see why the Badgers hold the No. 3 spot, but they obviously struggled against the Nittany Lions.
  • Despite the loss, Penn State can take a lot of positives from this one. The Nittany Lions gave the No. 3 team in the country all it can handle. No one likes a moral victory, but there’s undoubtedly something to build on here.

What’s Next

Penn State women’s volleyball will travel to Illinois to face Northwestern at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23. The team’s regular-season finale will be played at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 25, against Purdue.

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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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