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No. 13 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Falls To Michigan State 3-2

No. 13 Penn State women’s volleyball (15-6, 9-3 Big Ten) was outlasted by Michigan State (14-9, 6-6 Big Ten) Saturday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

For the first time in over a decade, the Nittany Lions fell to Michigan State. Although they led 2-1 after the third set, they weren’t able to close out the last two and ultimately fell to the Spartans in a five-set marathon.

How It Happened

Penn State jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start the first set after a Michigan State service error and a kill by Zoe Weatherington. The Spartans responded with a 3-0 run take take the lead from Penn State. The two teams traded service errors, knotting the score up at 5-5.

Michigan State committed it’s third service error of the first set, handing back the lead to the Nittany Lions at 6-5. The Spartans won six of the next nine points to take a 12-9 lead. A Jess Murzik kill started off a 4-0 Nittany Lion run but it was ended by a kill from Michigan State’s Grace Kelly to tie the score up at 13-13. While the teams traded points back and forth, the Spartans finally climbed to a small 20-18 lead off of a kill and a Nittany Lion attack error which forced a Penn State timeout.

Out of their timeout, the Nittany Lions forced a Michigan State attack error to close the gap 19-20 but the Spartans quickly responded with a 4-0 run to jump out to a 24-19 lead, leaving the Nittany Lions grasping for a hold on the set. An attack error by Murzik gave Michigan State the first set with a score of 25-19.

After dropping the first set, the Nittany Lions came out strong, drawing first blood and climbing out to a 2-0 lead off the back of Murzik who recorded a block and a kill so start the set. A Michigan State attack error extended the Nittany Lions 3-0 lead, prompting the Spartans to burn an early timeout. The Nittany Lions won the next four points after the Michigan State timeout, including back-to-back service aces from Anjelina Starck, giving Penn State a commanding 7-0 lead.

Michigan State used their final timeout to kill some of Penn State’s momentum, answering back with two consecutive points bringing the score to 2-8. Allie Holland took advantage of a poor Spartan’s first touch, recording her first kill of the match and extending the Nittany Lion 12-3 lead. Michigan State stopped the bleeding with a block at the net on Gillian Grimes but Holland once again responded with a kill bringing it to 15-5.

Penn State continued their second set dominance with Murzik pounding a kill into the Spartan backline and then another service ace by Mac Podraza, climbing out to a 20-6 lead. Murzik brought the Nittany Lions to set point at 24-11 after landing yet another hard kill. Murzik then closed out the second set for the Nittany Lions by recording her seventh kill of the set, ending it at 25-11.

After evening up the match count at 1-1 with a dominating second set, the Nittany Lions found themselves tied up with the Spartans at 2-2 to start the third set. Holland continued her strong defensive night with multiple blocks at the net, sparking a 5-0 Nittany Lion run to extend their lead to 7-3. Penn State began to gain further control at the net both offensively and defensively thanks to the efforts of Holland and Murzik who each recorded multiple blocks and kills to start the third set.

The Spartans went on a small 3-0 run, but Taylor Trammell quickly shot that down with a block of her own, stopping the Michigan State run before they could even the score at 11-9. The Nittany Lions used the momentum gained from the Trammell block to go on a 5-0 run, pushing their lead to 16-10.

The Nittany Lions climbed out to an 18-11 lead after Mruzik rejected a hit from Michigan State’s Aliyah Moore, sending the ball into the unattended Spartan backline and forcing a Michigan State timeout shortly after. The Spartans won back-to-back points out of their timeout but Murzik killed that tiny run with her 14th kill of the game at that point.

Michigan State was forced to burn it’s last timeout after a 3-0 Nittany Lions run, but that was no use as Penn State won two straight points out of the timeout to bring the score to 23-13. A kill from Holland brought the Nittany Lions to set point. A Michigan State attack error shortly followed, ending the third set at 25-16 and putting Penn State up 2-1 in the match count.

Michigan State jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead to start the fourth set which forced an early Penn State timeout. The Nittany Lions finally got on the board thanks to a Camryn Hannah kill and a ball-handling error from Michigan State that closed the gap 2-4. Holland ended a 3-0 Spartan run with a thunderous kill from her middle position to cut the 7-3 Michigan State lead. Another Holland kill paired with a Murzik service ace brought the Nittany Lions within three with the score sitting at 5-8.

The Spartans answered back with a 3-0 run to extend their 13-7 lead. Alexa Markley blasted a kill from the outside pin to cut the Spartan lead down to five. That was then supplemented by a Tremmell block and a service ace from Starck to bring the score to 11-14 and force a Spartan timeout in the process. Penn State’s Hannah landed a kill fresh out of the Michigan State timeout but the Spartans were able to answer back with consecutive points to put the score at 16-12.

Both squads traded service errors, but Michigan State remained in control going on a 4-0 run to extend their 20-13 lead. The Nittany Lions began their comeback effort by going on a 3-0 run and forcing a Spartan timeout with the score now sitting at 20-16. After a score out of the timeout, the Penn State run sat at 4-0 but it was ended by a Michigan State kill which then sparked a 5-1 run to close out the fourth set for the Spartans.

The Spartans drew first blood to start the fifth set, winning the first two points. Murzik put the Nittany Lions on the board with a kill and then a block from Holland tied up the score at 2-2. A scrappy back-and-forth rally at the net between the teams ended in favor of Penn State as Murzik was able to bury the ball into the Michigan State defense to bring the score to 3-4. Both offenses began to click in crunch time as seven out of seven of the previous points were kills leaving the score at 9-5 in favor of the Spartans.

The Nittany Lions handle on the match began to slowly slip away from them as the Spartans went on a 4-1 run to put them up 11-6 in the race to 15. After their timeout, the Nittany Lions went on a 3-1 run to cut down the 12-9 Michigan State lead. A Hannah kill and a block by Podraza gave Penn State some hope as the score now sat at 13-11. Murzik cut the lead down to one with a kill which forced a Michigan State timeout.

The 5-1 Nittany Lion run ended with a kill from Michigan State’s Nil Okur that brought it to match point. Back-to-back kills by Murzik and Starck tied the game up at 14-14 all, giving Penn State a new-found breath of life. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the fifth set at 15-14 off of a Spartan attack error. The Spartans tied the game with a Penn State attack error but then gave a point right back to the Nittany Lions by committing a service error. With Penn State at match point the Spartans landed a kill, tying the game up again at 16-16.

A Starck attack error and a kill by Taylah Holdem put the nail in the coffin of the Nittany Lions, 18-16.


  • In the first and fourth sets, Penn State was outhit .222% to .030% and -.029% to .379% respectively
  • Penn State lost the kill battle 49-53. The defense failed the Nittany Lions in moments when they needed it most.
  • The Nittany Lions lost control of the match, simply put. After going up two sets to one, allowing the evening to slip away was disastrous.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will get another lick at No. 2 Nebraska at 8:30 p.m. Friday, November 3, in Happy Valley. The matchup will be on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Cadyn Gill

Cadyn is a freshman journalism major at Penn State. Hailing from the great state of Texas, he is a die hard Dallas sports fan. You'll often see him voicing his complaints about the Cowboys play calling on Twitter @cgill214.

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