Women’s Volleyball Dominates Michigan in Sweep
UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. – With the highly-ranked Nittany Lions football team on a bye, it was Parents and Families Weekend at Penn State. Many of them stopped by Rec Hall Saturday night to see the No. 2 women’s volleyball team take on the Michigan Wolverines, and they were not disappointed. The Nittany Lions clobbered the Wolverines in straight sets 3-0 to win both home matchups this weekend.
Penn State held off the tough, scrappy 10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans Friday night, winning 3-1 in four sets. Senior outside hitter Simone Lee led the way with 17 kills. The match was highlighted by an exciting third set with Penn State having as many as six set point opportunities before taking it 30-28 behind a raucous crowd.
Michigan traveled to New Brunswick, NJ Friday night and only dropped one set to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in their four-set victory. The win snapped the Wolverines’ two-game slide
The Nittany Lions split their season series last season with Michigan, winning in straight sets at home but falling in five sets in Ann Arbor.
Penn State came out hot and dominant at the start. Michigan looked out of sorts and not ready to face a powerhouse like Penn State. Lee got off to another quick start, racking up four kills on her first six attempts. The team looked strong, played with fire and energy and showed who is boss. Defensive setter Kendall White was all over the court, diving and laying out for every dig she could get to.
The Nittany Lions kept the Wolverines at bay. Once Michigan trailed 8-4, they could never find a way to get closer than a five-point deficit and Penn State did a great job to suffocate any chance at a comeback. The Blue and White hit an impressive .367 while Michigan hit a weak .226 thanks to stellar net play from Penn State. The Nittany Lions rolled to a 25-17 set win.
The second set got off to a much closer start, with Michigan battling back and cutting it as close at 10-9. Ali Frantti came alive and hit for nine kills in the match, most coming in the second set to push Penn State ahead. It was unfortunate because Michigan really struggled in the set to receive the Nittany Lions’ serves, but Penn State was struggling to capitalize on their miscues and helped keep Michigan around.
It didn’t last long, though. Penn State got bigger at the net, specifically through senior Haleigh Washington, who had two blocks herself and leads the team in rejections on the season. Washington came up big throughout the match, finishing with 12 kills, hit .571 percent and benefitted from great passing from her teammates.
“It’s a team game and when we pass well, it gives us an opportunity to give her the ball,” head coach Russ Rose said on how she has so much success.
On Friday night, the second set was Penn State’s kryptonite, where they were blown out of the water by the Spartans. They made sure that didn’t happen twice and handled business to run away and take it, 25-18.
By the third set, Michigan had run out of gas and practically thrown in the towel. Penn State did not take their foot off the gas and came out of the gates hot up 7-1 early. They never slowed down, hitting .421 in the set and eventually an impressive .394 on the match. Michigan, however, struggled to get their hitting going all night and only managed .215 on Penn State.
The Wolverines made a late push but it was game over for them, as they dropped the set 25-14 and the Nittany Lions rolled to the straight sets match victory. The win also gave Penn State the weekend sweep.
Simone Lee led the way again with 15 kills on 28 attempts. What made the thumping even more impressive for the Nittany Lions is they thoroughly dominated while only benefitting off 11 Michigan attacking errors. The night before, Penn State needed every one of Michigan State’s 26 attacking errors to win the match so this time around Penn State found more efficient ways to win.
Simone Lee was quick to point out her team’s great play as the real focus of the win.
“It’s not a one-man job and it’s shown because everyone has done a really good job this year,” Lee said.
“A couple seniors have made great commitments,” Rose said on the importance this senior class has on the team.
The win moved the Blue and White to 17-1 and 7-1 in the Big Ten this season. Michigan dropped to 13-7 and 3-5 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions now sit at 49-5 all-time in matchups with Michigan.
Penn State will travel next Friday to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers at 8 p.m. Then it will travel south to Indiana for a Saturday evening date with the Hoosiers.
Matthew Harvey is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.