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No. 15 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Trounces No. 13 Minnesota In Four Sets

No. 15 Penn State women’s volleyball (10-3, Big Ten 4-0) downed No. 13 Minnesota (6-6, Big Ten 2-2) Saturday night in Minneapolis. The Nittany Lions continue their undefeated streak in conference play and collect their second ranked win of the season.

The evening was highlighted by a nearly flawless performance from middle blocker Taylor Trammell, who tallied 16 kills, along with Penn State’s defense as a whole, totaling nine blocks and 64 digs.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions came out of the gate hot, quickly going up 4-0 and forcing an early Minnesota timeout. The Golden Gophers burned their second timeout early on in the set as Penn State utterly dominated the court 11-3 and hitting .700.

Taylor Trammell, Jess Mruzik, and Alexa Markley paved the way for the Nittany Lions to reach set point as they went up 20-8 on the Golden Gophers. Two service aces, three blocks, and only three errors helped Penn State kick off the evening to a fantastic start with a 25-14 set one win sealed by a kill from Taylor Trammell.

Minnesota was right on the Nittany Lions’ heels to start set two, keeping Penn State within one point until two Mruzik kills stretched the early lead to 6-3. Some serious defense by the Golden Gophers gave them their first lead of the match at 8-7.

The Golden Gophers dug themselves out of their hole to jump to a 12-8 lead and force Katie Schumacher-Cawley’s first timeout of the match. Penn State struggled to catch up to Minnesota despite constantly fighting for the ball and making miraculous digs.

As both teams inched closer to the 25-point mark, the Nittany Lions attempted a final comeback effort and came within two points at 24-22. A single play resulting in a block by Trammell and Mac Podraza put Penn State within one, bringing up the fourth set point and causing the Gophers’ final timeout of the set.

A final kill by Minnesota’s Taylor Landfair wrapped up set two 25-23.

The evening’s third set opened in Penn State’s favor once again, with three consecutive kills from the Nittany Lions to forge a 7-3 lead. Following a long rally resulting in a Minnesota point, Schumacher-Cawley challenged the point on a net violation. The point was overturned, giving Penn State a slightly extended four-point lead.

The Golden Gophers weren’t phased at all, fighting back to tie things at 15 all. As the teams exchanged points, Schumacher-Cawley challenged yet another point and was once again successful. The victory of the challenged point gave Penn State a push of momentum, displayed by Markley jumping to near-impossible heights to put the ball down in the corner of Minnesota’s court.

A service ace by Mruzik brought up set point, and an attack error from the Gophers’ Lydia Grote wrapped up the third set 25-20 to put Penn State ahead 2-1.

The Golden Gophers were simply not ready to give up this game in four sets. They exploded for a 6-2 lead and forced an early timeout by the Nittany Lions. Coming out of the timeout, Mruzik led Penn State on a 4-0 run to tie with Minnesota. The teams continued to trade points until the Nittany Lions went on another 4-0 run to catapult them into a two-point lead.

Though the advantage was small, it was enough to scare Minnesota and cause a timeout. Inching closer to the win, Penn State remained poised but confident to hit 20 points and command Minnesota 20-17. Still not ready to give up, the Golden Gophers tied the set at 21. Schumacher-Cawley burned her final timeout, and the Nittany Lions fought through extra points to finally take set four 28-26.

Takeaways

  • After a shaky start to the season, there was a huge question mark regarding Penn State’s ability to compete in the Big Ten, easily one of the most competitive conferences in college volleyball. A few weeks into conference play undefeated and now with a ranked win on the road, this question mark has diminished significantly. It’ll be interesting to see how this revamped team will fare against top-ranked Wisconsin and Nebraska in several weeks.
  • Seeing a healthy Taylor Trammell back on the court for Penn State is amazing. Trammell and setter Mac Podraza frequently connected for some huge plays throughout the match. By the end of the night, Trammell had tallied 16 kills, a .800 hitting percentage, and not a single hitting error. Her excitement and pride were tangible, and it was great to see her back.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to State College for two home games during Alumni Weekend. Penn State will charge ahead in conference play at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 6, when it challenges Indiana at Rec Hall.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a 2024 graduate of Penn State with a degree in immunology and infectious disease. She relocated to Williamsport but will not be taking any questions about what’s next in her career. Haylee continues to be fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter if you must.

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