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Penn State Women’s Volleyball Drops NCAA Tournament Regional In Five-Set Heartbreaker To Wisconsin

Penn State women’s volleyball (26-7, 13-7 Big Ten) faced Wisconsin (27-3, 19-1 Big Ten) in the NCAA Tournament regional round and lost in five sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20, 15-8) on Thursday night in Madison.

Following Penn State’s win against UCF in the second round, it made its 34th regional appearance as a program. Despite their best effort, the Nittany Lions could not pull through with a win and both their tournament run and season came to an end.

How It Happened

Opening up the regional round, the Nittany Lions came out hot with a 2-1 lead. The Badgers then went on a 4-0 run to go up 7-3, and the Nittany Lions then called their first timeout. Wisconsin notably had zero hitting errors through its first 10 points as it overtook Penn State 10-6.

Gillian Grimes and Maddy Bilinovic sparked the Nittany Lions after they were down by five, getting a number of digs, and even an ace. Despite the boost in attitude on the court, Penn State could not catch up and was down 18-12 before it used another timeout.

As Wisconsin neared the first set win, Zoe Weatherington registered four straight kills to put Penn State in reach at 22-19 in favor of Wisconsin. Penn State then used its first challenge of the night against a tough call, which was reversed in its favor to make the score 23-21, with Wisconsin up by two. Wisconsin then scored two more points to win 25-21.

The second set began with a 2-2 tie, but an ace from Seleisa Elisaia put the Nittany Lions up 5-4. The score then locked, and stayed that way through 12-12, until Wisconsin pulled away by three. Wisconsin then continued to tack on the points and attained a five-point lead.

Wisconsin continued to hold onto its lead and won set two 25-19.

Set three of the game started similarly to the second set, with a 2-2 tie between the teams. The Nittany Lions managed to get up by two, but then tied again 9-9. Penn State fought back and had a 15-12 lead going into the media timeout, and by this time, Zoe Weatherington and Kashauna Williams registered a combined 19 kills.

Wisconsin made the comeback to tie the score at 16-all, then upped the score 19-16. As Penn State inched back, Wisconsin issued a challenge against a touch by Penn State. This challenge was ruled in favor of the Badgers and helped the team reach 20 points.

The Nittany Lions came back once again to tie the set at 21, but Penn State went up 24-21 after a Gillian Grimes ace, bringing up its first set point of the match. Wisconsin answered with one, but Penn State secured set three 25-23.

Penn State carried the momentum into the fourth set taking an immediate 3-0 lead, and this continued as it led 6-4. The score tied up at nine-all, but another Grimes ace put the Nittany Lions up 11-10. Katie Clark then had a kill for Penn State to go up 13-10 and caused a Wisconsin timeout.

The Nittany Lions upped their lead to 18-14, but an ace from Wisconsin started to add pressure. The Nittany Lions fought the Badgers off and were the first to 20 points through four sets. Penn State kept pushing and it came to its second set point of the night 24-18. It secured the fourth set 25-20 and headed into the final set of the match.

The final set saw a quick start for the Badgers as they capitalized on the Nittany Lion’s mistakes and went up 4-1. Wisconsin continued to dominate and led 9-3 heading into a Penn State timeout. The Nittany Lions began to build some momentum when it trailed by five, but they could not catch up to the Badgers and ultimately dropped the final set 15-8.

Takeaways:

  • Despite the loss, first-year head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley had an unreal first season at the helm. Taking the place of Russ Rose was no easy feat, but the transition was more than seamless.
  • The Nittany Lions’ fresh faces made a huge impact on the lineup this season, and that will continue to thrive after a year full of experience as a team. Between transfers like Zoe Wetherington and freshmen Alexa Markley and Gillian Grimes, the future is bright.

What’s Next?

Katie Schumacher-Cawley and the Nittany Lions’ 2022 season has come to an end and it will return for the 2023 season next August.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a sophomore staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs at the Linc. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected]

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