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No. 11 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Defeats Northwestern In Four Sets

No. 11 Penn State women’s volleyball (22-7, Big Ten 11-7) defeated Northwestern (17-13, Big Ten 6-12) in four sets on Wednesday evening (25-23, 25-9, 25-19, 25-23).

Even though a tricky second set threatened to give the Wildcats the advantage, the Nittany Lions were able to string together two more sets to give them the victory.

How It Happened

There was a challenge by Northwestern on the very first point, claiming a touch on the ball that was originally ruled out of bounds. A touch was detected, and the first point went to Northwestern. Not to worry, though, as the Nittany Lions took the lead 8-6.

A block from the Wildcats tied the set at 10-10, but out popped Kash Williams to extend the lead in favor of Penn State, 17-13. Northwestern then went on a 3-0 scoring run, prompting a Nittany Lion timeout. A kill from Northwestern tied things up at 17.

The teams exchanged points until Penn State finally took a two-point lead, 21-19. With a kill from Zoe Weatherington, the Nittany Lions wrap up set one 25-23.

Northwestern took an early lead in set two, leaping ahead to 4-1. Errors by the Wildcats helped Penn State to go on a 4-0 scoring run, which forced a Northwestern timeout as the Nittany Lions jumped back into a 7-5 lead.

The Wildcats answered with their own 6-0 run, which gave them a six-point lead and prompted Katie Schumacher-Cawley to force a timeout as the Nittany Lions trailed 13-9. The timeout didn’t do too much, as the Wildcats scored five more points and increased their lead to 18-9.

Nothing could slow the Wildcats down, and they ran away with set two 25-9.

A new set brought a new chance. Northwestern built on the momentum that it gained from set two to take a 2-0 lead, but Kash Williams channeled her frustration into kills, tying the score at six all. After a long drought, the Nittany Lions are finally able to take a 9-7 lead with a block from Allie Holland and Zoe Weatherington.

A few more kills from Williams increased Penn State’s lead to 15-11. The Wildcats continued to trail, but never took a timeout. In the same rotation that brought itself so much success in set two, Northwestern nearly caught up to the Nittany Lions. A Penn State kill forced that rotation to change, though, putting the Wildcats at a disadvantage as the Nittany Lions continued to lead 21-17.

Despite a challenged net violation on Penn State that was quickly confirmed, the Nittany Lions were able to wrap the third set up 25-19.

Coming off set three’s win, the Nittany Lions began the fourth set with a 4-2 lead. The Wildcats came back to tie the set at an even six following a kill. Two back-to-back kills from Allie Holland helped to put Penn State up by three and forced Northwestern’s first timeout as they trailed 11-8.

Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats had no trouble tying things up. The teams exchanged points until Penn State created a notable lead of three points, 16-13. The Nittany Lions took their first timeout of the set, as Northwestern remained on the heels of the Penn State squad, trailing 20-18.

With the match nearly in reach for the Nittany Lions, the Wildcats refused to go down without a fight. As the score sat at 24-23, Schumacher-Cawley took a timeout. A final kill from Katie Clark wrapped up the evening and set four, with Penn State taking the set 25-23 and winning the match.

Takeaways

  • After such a dominant showing over ranked teams for the past three games, it was shocking to see this Penn State team nearly fall apart in set two. In several plays, it was clear that communication was just lacking – either two players reached for the ball, or no player reached for the ball, and it ultimately hit the ground. Thankfully, the team didn’t let set two define the tone for the entire game.
  • Though it wasn’t Kash Williams’ best game when looking solely at the numbers, you’d be remiss to not acknowledge her contribution to Wednesday night’s game. Across four sets, Williams had 16 kills, which is a little under her average, but her kills seemed to come when the Nittany Lions needed them the most. Perhaps, even more important is Williams’ ability to remain calm and collected regardless of what’s occurring on the court, influencing her teammates to do the same – especially in the second set, when frustration became palpable.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will return to Rec Hall for their final home game of the season at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 25th. The team will play Purdue and hold its annual Senior Night.

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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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