No. 15 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Blanks Northwestern In Three Sets
No. 15 Penn State women’s volleyball (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) swept Northwestern (6-6, 0-2 Big Ten) in three sets in Evanston Sunday afternoon to begin Big Ten play 2-0.
Right-side hitter and Clemson transfer Camryn Hannah set a new single-match record for the number of kills in the Nittany Lions’ sweep.
How It Happened
Back-to-back service errors for both teams left Penn State trailing 4-3. Northwestern was quite comfortable on its home court, quickly taking an 8-6 lead and leaving the Nittany Lions defense scrambling. A hit out-of-bounds finally gave Penn State its first lead since the beginning of the game, 11-10.
Jess Mruzik sent two balls to the corner of the Wildcats’ court, helping Penn State to hang on to the lead and forcing Northwestern’s first timeout as the team trailed 16-14.
Mruzik blazed the way through the end of the set, with help from Alexa Markley and Hannah. Northwestern attempted to return from an eight-point deficit, but Taylor Trammell slammed one down to bring up the end of set one 25-18.
Northwestern was eager for revenge in set two, opening with a 3-0 scoring run. The Nittany Lions answered with a 6-0 run of their own, led by two kills from Hannah. Northwestern burned an early timeout, trying to figure out how to respond to the massive swings from Penn State.
A few consecutive attacking errors by the Nittany Lions threatened their lead. Two Northwestern players collided, causing some brief hesitation about the health of one of the Wildcats. Thankfully, she walked back onto the court before the next rally.
Penn State continued to lead 17-12 as Northwestern used its second timeout of the set. The timeout did little to help the Wildcats, though. A 5-0 run led by a service ace from Cassie Keurschen brought the Nittany Lions within striking distance of match point. Markley put down a kill to wrap up set two 25-15.
Penn State opened set three eager to wrap things up and head home. Mruzik clocked a service ace to help the Nittany Lions jump into a 6-2 lead. Coming out of a timeout, Northwestern was not ready to give up. The Wildcats set up back-to-back blocks to come back within one, 7-6.
Northwestern’s Leilani Dodson exploded, putting down a kill and a service ace which put the Wildcats in the lead for the first time in set three. Two consecutive kills from Hannah put the Nittany Lions back in the lead, but not without the Wildcats nipping at their heels.
Thanks to a few Northwestern miscues, the Nittany Lions regained a three-point lead, which was enough to make the Wildcats uneasy and force a timeout with the score 17-14. Coming out of the timeout, Penn State maintained a relatively comfortable lead, driving the team to match point. However, Northwestern challenged that rally on the basis of a touch and was successful, taking match point out of the Nittany Lions’ hands. Hannah got the final kill to wrap up set three and the match 25-21.
Player Of The Game
Camryn Hannah | Right Side Hitter
It appears that Hannah has won the position battle for the right side – and deservedly so. In Sunday’s match, Hannah tallied 16 kills, the most that she’s had in a single game all season. Prior to Sunday’s game against Northwestern, Hannah’s highest kill total was 12 in matches against Colgate and UMBC. To add to that, her hitting percentage was .750, a tie for the highest percentage, only matching setter Mac Podraza.
The Nittany Lions will charge ahead in conference play on the road at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 29, at Illinois. The match will be streamed on the Big Ten Network.
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