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No. 14 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Tops No. 22 Western Kentucky 3-1 In First Win Of Season

No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball picked up its first win of the 2023 season during its home opener in four sets against No. 22 Western Kentucky.

After their worst start to a season since 1976, the Nittany Lions got in the win column after dominant performances by Jess Mruzik and Camryn Hannah with a combined 30 kills.

The first set started off slow for Penn State, but the energy was alive in Rec Hall as the Nittany Lions came back to win the next three sets.

How It Happened

The first few points of the game brought a number of out-of-system balls for the Nittany Lions, making the score 3-1 for Western Kentucky. It continued to be a close score through eight, with the teams keeping within one at all times. Penn State finally earned a two-point lead at 11-9 after the long-fought battle. The Big Red quickly came right back and tied it up at 11.

Each time the Nittany Lions pulled away, Western Kentucky came right back. Head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley had some very encouraging words in the timeout because the Nittany Lions exploded with energy and secured three kills during the next four points for the team.

Additionally, the Nittany Lions were the first to reach 20, but Western Kentucky quickly tied the score. Penn State then began to struggle and went down 23-21, forcing another timeout from Schumacher-Cawley.

Despite the timeout, Penn State couldn’t pull through and an ace serve from Western Kentucky sealed the first set for the Big Red 25-22.

After a short break, Penn State came out for set two on a 4-0 scoring run, forcing Western Kentucky to call an early timeout. Aces then rained down for the Nittany Lions, with one from Gillian Grimes and two more from Allie Holland to make the score 9-4.

Multiple hitting errors were scored from Zoe Weatherington and Taylor Trammel following the ace serves, but back-to-back blocks for Penn State brought the energy right back to lead 14-10.

Transfer Camryn Hannah then entered the game and electrified Rec Hall with two kills. A kill and a block from Jess Mruzik also extended Penn State’s lead. The team kept grinding and were one again the first to reach 20 points.

The Nittany Lions were unbelievable on defense in the conclusion of the set, with a big thanks to libero Maddy Bilinovic, and they finished off set two 25-18.

Set three again began with a tie at 4-4. Thanks to two tips from Allie Holland and Mac Podraza, Penn State began a quick 4-0 scoring run. Out-of-system balls again affected the Nittany Lions, so a timeout was called.

Western Kentucky was next to hit a hot streak of its own and the score was staying tied 17-17, but Penn State had a few kills and a massive solo block from Mruzik to up the score 20-17. Mruzik was on fire, scoring two more kills. Penn State then reached set point at 24-19. The third set then finished with a score of 25-19.

The final set saw another back-and-forth battle at 3-3. Grimes registered another ace, putting Penn State up 9-6. Trammel was dominant with back-to-back kills, and Penn State continued to grind 12-8.

The Nittany Lions were rolling and leading 16-12 before a challenge came in from Western Kentucky on a touch call. It was then ruled in Penn State’s favor. The energy was on Penn State’s side heading into the final stretch as it kept the 20-16 lead. Kills from Trammel and Weatherington got the crowd going, and the Nittany Lions reached game point.

Western Kentucky had an overserve and Penn State walked away with its first win of the season 3-1.

Player Of The Game

Camryn Hannah | Right Side Hitter

For her first appearance in Rec Hall after transferring this offseason, Hannah proved to be just the spark that Penn State needed to earn its first win of the season. Finishing off the game with nine kills, a .273 hitting percentage, and a block turned into a dominant performance for the senior from Illinois.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will play game two of the Penn State Invitational at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, against Colgate in Rec Hall. The match can be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a senior 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 or Penn State wrestling and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs in Beaver Stadium. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected].

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