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No. 19 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Pulls Off Massive Upset, Defeats No. 2 Wisconsin 3-1

No. 19 Penn State women’s volleyball (17-8, 11-5 Big Ten) pulled off a shocking upset by defeating No. 2 Wisconsin (23-2, 14-2 Big Ten) in four sets Saturday night.

Wisconsin’s only loss of the season prior to this match came on October 21 to No. 1 Nebraska, and the Badgers had only lost one set since then.

How It Happened

The first set was about as back and forth as it gets, with 15 ties and taking until Wisconsin went up 17-14 for either team to have a lead of more than two points.

The Badgers extended that lead to 19-15 before forcing a Penn State timeout. However, a 4-0 run tied the game at 19-19, and Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield called his first timeout. A pair of Wisconsin errors put Penn State ahead 22-20 and caused a second Wisconsin timeout.

The Badgers responded with a 4-1 run to make it set point, and Penn State head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley called the blue and white’s second timeout. Wisconsin won the final point and took set one by a score of 25-23.

Wisconsin went up 5-3 to begin the second set, but Penn State used a 5-0 run to take an 8-5 lead. Despite that, Sheffield stood on the sideline with his arms crossed seeming unbothered, and for good reason, as Wisconsin used a 4-0 run of its own to regain the lead at 9-8.

Then, it went back the other way. A 7-0 run for the Nittany Lions put them up 15-9.

They continued to dominate, having a set point at 24-18, but Wisconsin wasn’t done. The Badgers clawed their way back into it, evening the score at 24-24.

The Rec Hall crowd of over 5,000 did a lot of sitting down and standing up, doing so for each Penn State set point, but the set finally ended in a 29-27 Nittany Lion victory to knot the match at 1-1.

Set three looked very similar to the opening set, with this one’s first lead of over two points coming at 11-8 in favor of Penn State. Again, though, Wisconsin came back to make it 14-14.

After a tight back half of the frame, the Nittany Lions took a 22-20 lead, and Wisconsin wanted to talk things over. This set, like the rest, went down to the wire, but Penn State prevailed 25-23, sending the fans into a frenzy and making the match lead 2-1.

The upset-minded Nittany Lions entered the fourth set with a big win on their minds. The frame started off as a close one, but Penn State started to pull away. Its lead got out to 15-10, and it never slowed down.

The Penn State momentum grew with the lead and the crowd noise was too much for Wisconsin to overcome, and the Nittany Lions won the set 25-19.

With that came a 3-1 match victory, one that was unexpected before it got underway.


  • After falling to No. 1 Nebraska last week, Schumacher-Cawley noted the team’s need to “find a way to stop the runs of points.” Tonight’s game was another one of runs, which hurt Penn State at times but played to its favor more tonight than against the Cornhuskers.
  • The Nittany Lions won the battle in the middle of the floor in this match. In the first set alone, Penn State had 17 digs compared to Wisconsin’s seven.
  • Penn State’s communication was really impressive in this match which is needed against a team as skilled as Wisconsin.
  • The Nittany Lions simply played an incredible game. Wisconsin was ranked No. 1 before losing to current-No. 1 Nebraska. This win was no easy task.

What’s Next?

Penn State will welcome Michigan State into Rec Hall at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 17, in the team’s annual Silent Set.

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About the Author

Michael Siroty

Michael Siroty is a freshman from Westfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism. When he isn't writing articles or making TikToks for Onward State, Siroty is either taking a peaceful walk around Beaver Stadium or at his summer day camp job. You can contact him to discuss your sushi order or music taste on Instagram and Twitter @msiroty or by email at [email protected].

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