WVB: Penn State Drops Fourth Straight Match to No. 1 Nebraska
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In a nearly sold out Rec Hall the Penn State women's volleyball team dropped another Big Ten match in five sets to the number one ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Going up against the offensive powerhouse that is the Nebraska offense, the Nittany Lions maintained composure throughout the match, but ultimately rookie errors prevailed.
“I don’t think we were very good in the serving game,” head coach Russ Rose said. “We had some windows where we could of taken control, but we didn’t have the players or coaches to do that.”
In the first set, the defensive power of juniors Haleigh Washington and Alli Frantti at the net allowed the Nittany Lions to take a 12-8 lead early. Redshirt freshman Tori Gorrell was also a force at the net, with three blocks. She has tallied 19 solo blocks thus far on the season.
Mental errors began to add up for the Cornhuskers late in the first set, allowing the defensive momentum to continue into the offense for Gorrell and Frantti. The two combined for six kills in the set. Washington and junior outside hitter Simone Lee also added five kills.
A huge kill from Lee closed out the first set 25-22. Lee has been a continuous strength for the Nittany Lions, and her 305 kills on the season account for 32% of the total offense.
The second set started out sloppy for Penn State allowing Nebraska to take a 9-6 lead early on. A spark came from junior Heidi Thelen who put down two huge kills and a block at the net to bring the Nittany Lions back within one, with the score 12-11.
Gorell and Frantti continued to push at the net, but attacking errors gave Nebraska a late 17-12 lead. Errors continued on defense, forcing Russ Rose to take three timeouts all within 10 points of play.
Nebraska continued to pull ahead with the help of seniors Andie Malloy and Amber Rolfzen. Malloy and Rolfzen tallied six and seven kills respectively and closed out the set 25-17.
“At this point, you’re not in your head. We were trying to steal the momentum, but in the second set we felt that momentum go to Nebraska,” Washington said. “So we knew we had to go out there and fight.”
Trailing for a majority of the third set, two kills from Washington and service error from Nebraska brought the Nittany Lions within three.
With the score 19-16, a pair of kills from Lee brought Penn State within one, and after a kill from Malloy, Thelen was able to answer and tie the set for the first time at 20-20.
The Cornhuskers closed out the set 25-23 after attacking errors, leading the Nittany Lions 2-1.
The fourth set was a back and forth battle. Defensive play was solid at the net and in the backcourt with the help of freshman defensive specialist Kendall White. Rose says she plays to her strengths and that is what she did Friday night. She had 30 digs in the match.
Washington and Lee continued to dominate at the net combining for 13 kills.
“Our service pressure wasn’t as good as theirs,” White said. “Our fight in the end got us through the fourth set. It had nothing to do with volleyball.”
Attacking errors plagued the Cornhuskers’ offense late in the set, giving Penn State a 23-20 lead. At 24-23, a solo block from sophomore Bryanna Weiskircher tied the match 2-2 and erupted Rec Hall.
Nebraska gained composure to open the fifth set, while the Nittany Lions struggled to pass off the serve. Trailing 9-3, a huge block from Thelen and Gorell put Penn State back into attack. A kill from Frantti and a service ace from junior Abby Detering made the score 9-6.
Gorell pounded a hit just inside the 10 foot line, but the offensive power of sophomore outside hitter Mikaela Foecke put Nebraska up 12-7. Foecke tallied 17 kills on the night.
Errors on the defensive end allowed Nebraska to pull away and close out the match, with a 15-12 set victory.
“For the sixth time, we didn’t play well in a fifth game. We’ve lost a couple matches at home in five that teams in the past didn’t find ways to do,” Rose said. “But, we’ll keep trying to spin the dial and find players that want to work hard and represent a great institution and see where we go.”
Tia Pattillo is a junior majoring in psychology neuroscience. To contact her, email email@example.com.