No. 14 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Northwestern 3-0
No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball (19-8, 13-5 Big Ten) blanked Northwestern (13-15, 7-11 Big Ten) 3-0 in its regular-season home finale at Rec Hall Friday night.
The Nittany Lions offense came out rolling, hitting .293 across all three sets and landing 44 total kills. The Northwestern Wildcats had no answer defensively for Penn State.
How It Happened
Penn State burst out of the gate, taking a 4-0 to start the first set thanks to three straight kills from Zoe Weatherington, Allie Holland, and Camryn Hannah. A Northwestern attack error followed by two more kills from Weatherington and Hannah pushed the Penn State lead to 7-2. However, the Wildcats dug their heels in and brought the score to 9-13 off of a couple of Penn State attack errors and a handful of kills of their own.
The Nittany Lions extended their 16-11 lead from a Hannah kill. Penn State began to take advantage of a porous Northwestern defense, as Mruzik landed back to back kills, which forced a Wildcat timeout with the score sitting at 19-12.
The Nittany Lions were the first team to reach the 20-point benchmark, as they forced a Wildcat attack error. The 4-0 Penn State scoring run was ended by an Averie Hernandez kill for the Wildcats. The Nittany Lions upped their defensive intensity, recording three consecutive blocks, bringing them to set point at 24-15. Camryn Hannah landed a huge right-armed kill to hand Penn State its first set win of the night at 25-15.
This time around, the Wildcats grabbed the first point of the second set with a kill from Kennedy Hill. Hannah responded with a kill of her own to tie the game at 1-1. Both squads traded points back and forth early on in the second set as the score sat tied once again at 6-6. The Nittany Lions finally gained some breathing room as they went on a 3-0 run from two Weatherington kills and a Gillian Grimes service ace, pushing the score to 11-8 and forcing a Northwestern timeout in the process.
Out of their timeout, the Wildcats won four out of the next six points, cutting down the the Penn State lead that now sat at 13-12. The choppy, back-and-forth nature of the second set continued, but once again, the Nittany Lions found themselves with an 18-15 lead and sent the Wildcats to the drawing board, burning their last timeout of the second set.
Immediately out of the timeout, Northwestern’s Maddy Chinn landed a kill, and the Nittany Lions committed an attack error cutting down the 18-17 Penn State lead. Northwestern tied the game briefly at 19-19, but Hannah landed her sixth kill of the night to push the Nittany Lions back up on top 20-19. A Northwestern service error gift wrapped Penn State a point and possession of the ball.
Northwestern successfully overturned a call with its coaches challenge, draining some momentum from the Nittany Lions and using it to propel back to back points of its own. Taylor Trammell responded for the Nittany Lions right out of their time out with a kill to tie the game at 23-23.
Grimes kept the Nittany Lions from falling to set point with a brilliant dig that kept the play alive for Penn State, which ended in an error for the Wildcats to push the Nittany Lions to set point. Mruzik ended it 25-23 for the Nittany Lions with a nicely-placed kill into the backline of the Wildcats.
Weatherington started off the third set by landing a kill for the Nittany Lions to give them a 1-0 lead. Northwestern’s Chinn responded with a kill of her own, but the Wildcats committed a service error on the next play, handing the 2-1 lead back to Penn State. The Nittany Lions returned the favor by committing a service error of their own, which was supplemented by a block at the net by Leilani Dodson.
A 4-0 run from the Wildcats put them up 9-6, but Mruzik put an end to that as she hammered a kill into the Wildcat defense. Weatherington continued her impressive night with yet another kill to cut down the 8-10 Northwestern lead. The Wildcats rebuilt their three-point lead off of three straight kills, but then recorded a service error on the next play putting the score at 12-10 in favor of the Wildcats.
Withe the score sitting at 14-11, the Nittany Lions went on a 3-1 run to force a Northwestern timeout and put the score at 15-14. Mruzik landed a service ace right out of the timeout to tied the game at 15-15. Trammell then gave Penn State the lead with a block on Northwestern’s Hill at the net.
The Wildcats responded with a 3-0 run to take a 18-16 lead. Northwestern’s Julia Sangiacomo committed an attack error and then Grimes landed another service ace for Penn State which tied up the set at 18-18. A great set from Mac Podraza allowed Hannah to land a kill to push Penn State to the 20-point mark and force the Wildcats to burn a timeout. Northwestern responded with back to back points to even the game up at 21-21. Podraza and Mruzik connected again on an assisted kill to give the Nittany Lions a 22-21 lead.
Northwestern’s head coach Shane Davis, who was three for three on the day with his coach’s challenges, challenged a ruling that put Penn State up 23-21, which was reversed in favor of the Wildcats to knot up the score at 22-22.
In a major “ball don’t lie” moment, the Wildcat’s immediately committed a service error after the controversial call to put Penn State up 23-22. Mruzik then landed a kill to push the Nittany Lions to set point. Mruzik called game by threading the final kill through the Wildcat defense to take the third set 25-22.
- Penn State was the first team to the 20-point mark in all three sets. Staying ahead of the count allowed it to dictate the pace of the game and stay in the driver’s seat all night long.
- The Nittany Lions’ outside hitters showed up and showed out starting with Zoe Weatherington who ended the night with eight kills on a .545 hitting percent and seven blocks. Jess Mruzik added 15 kills with eight digs and Camryn Hannah recorded nine kills of her own. The versatility and extra offensive firepower from the outside hitters was the difference maker in this match.
The Nittany Lions will take on the Maryland Terrapins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22, in College Park.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions’ contest at Ford Field will be televised on NBC.
Our staffers unanimously predicted the Nittany Lions to win convincingly in Detroit.
Black Friday will be the 38th meeting between the two programs, and the all-time series is tied at 18-18-1.