No. 14 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Downs Indiana In Tense Five Sets
No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball (11-3, Big Ten 5-0) topped Indiana (12-6, Big Ten 2-3) at Rec Hall Friday night in a close match that went to five sets.
Dominant performances from both teams helped to display true grit from the Nittany Lions, who didn’t back down once throughout the evening. Both offense and defense were strong, with players like Allie Holland totaling nine blocks, while others like Camryn Hannah climbed to 15 kills.
How It Happened
Indiana came out confident and unintimidated by the large Rec Hall crowd, going up 6-2 on the Nittany Lions quickly. When the score hit 10-4, head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley called her first timeout of the evening. The Hoosiers stayed ahead and the Nittany Lions clung on, supported by several blocks from Allie Holland and kills from Jess Mruzik.
Indiana excelled at finding holes in the Penn State defense, but the Nittany Lions finally departed on a 3-0 scoring run, forcing the Hoosiers’ first timeout of the match. Alexa Markley had three consecutive kills and tried to lead the comeback effort, but Indiana went on a final crusade to wrap up set one 25-18.
Set two opened up much better for the Nittany Lions, with the team exploding for a 7-1 lead and an early Indiana timeout. An all-around dominant offensive performance kept Penn State in a comfortable lead of 10 points, 16-6, forcing Indiana’s second timeout of the set.
With no more timeouts, the Hoosiers simply had to take the lashing that they were getting from the Nittany Lions. Three kills from Mruzik put Penn State at set point, and a final double block from her and Holland put an end to Indiana’s misery, 25-9.
Following a brief break between sets to honor the 2013 National Championship team, including a guest appearance from former head coach Russ Rose, Penn State headed back onto the court, still utterly ignited from the dominance of set two to go up 7-1.
The Nittany Lions started strong, but several block errors caught up with them and allowed the Hoosiers to draw closer, 10-9. Four kills and a solo block from Mruzik put Penn State on a 5-0 scoring run to regain a comfortable lead and force Indiana’s second timeout.
Penn State stayed ahead, supported by Mruzik and Markley. While the Nittany Lions didn’t suffocate the Hoosiers nearly as badly as they did in set two, it was plenty enough to keep them on top for the entire match. A service ace from Maddy Bilinovic brought up set point and set three came to a close with a clean Mruzik kill, 25-21.
Frustrated, the Hoosiers barrelled into set four with a vengeance. An early 5-1 lead from Indiana forced Schumacher-Cawley’s first timeout since the first set. Strong defense and perfectly timed blocks from Indiana prevented Penn State from closing the gap and only extended the lead to 15-5.
Schumacher-Cawley called a second timeout in a last-ditch effort to turn the tides back in the Nittany Lions’ favor. The team made up a bit of ground but still trailed by six, 16-10. Indiana continued to run away with the lead, supported by a challenge from the Hoosiers that ultimately ended in their favor.
Indiana ended up nearly running away with the match, but a 4-0 run from Penn State forced a last-minute timeout from the Hoosiers. Ultimately, Indiana took set four 25-19, driving a fifth and final set.
The Nittany Lions got off to a bit of a slow start in the fifth set but tied at four all with Indiana. A kill from Anjelina Starck gave Penn State its first lead since the first serve of the set, 7-6. The team exchanged points until a Camryn Hannah kill put Penn State up by two and forced Indiana’s first timeout.
The Nittany Lions maintained the two-point lead until a service ace from Bilinovic extended it to three, 13-10. A kill from Mruzik brought up match point, and a block assist from Mac Podraza and Holland wrapped it up for Penn State 15-11.
Player of the Game
Jess Mruzik | Outside Hitter
Here’s something crazy: Jess Mruzik knows volleyball. She played every position imaginable in the win against the Hoosiers. Along with a typically high number of kills (19!) and a .388 hitting percentage, Mruzik also played some crazy defense (for an outside hitter, anyway). She had two solo blocks, two block assists, and 15 digs, which certainly contributed to the defense’s consistency throughout the evening.
The Nittany Lions will stay at Rec Hall for another conference matchup against No. 24 Ohio State. First serve is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 7. The 2008 National Championship team will be honored between the second and third sets of the match.
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About the Author
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