Nittany Lions Struggle In Victory Over Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although the Golden Gophers of Minnesota (9-3, 1-1 B1G) were able to snap what would have been 43 consecutive set victories, Penn State pulled out the victory in dramatic fashion.
The Nittany Lions extended their win streak to 33 matches after outlasting the Golden Gophers 25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 15-12.
Penn State (13-0, 2-0 B1G) was led offensively by four Nittany Lions, all of whom were in double-digit kills for the second consecutive game.
Senior Megan Courtney led the offense with her fifth double-double of the season. She produced 22 kills, 13 digs, and five blocks for Penn State.
“ I thought Megan [Courtney] competed at a very high level tonight. Her effort against [Daley] Santana was a great battle,” said head coach Russ Rose.
Trailing behind her was the trio of Nittany Lions, including Haleigh Washington, Alli Frantti, and Aiyana Whitney. Each of them had 13 kills. Washington tied the team for first with five blocks.
In the first set, despite hitting only .267 to Minnesota’s .324, the Nittany Lions won 25-22. Penn State led early 8-5 before Minnesota went on a three-point rally that was capped off by a service ace from senior outside-hitter Daly Santana. Penn State pulled ahead with a 3-0 strike after two kills from Whitney to take the lead 11-8. Minnesota put down a block and a kill to pull within one, making the score 11-10.
A kill from Whitney put the Nittany Lions up 12-10, but the Golden Gophers held a relentless mindset, tying the set at 12-12 after a kill from junior middle-blocker Paige Tapp.
Later in the set, the Nittany Lions came out of a Minnesota timeout and went on a 4-2 run to extend the lead too 20-16. Courtney and Washington produced two kills to put Penn State up 22-18. Two kills from Frantti and a block from Washington secured the first set.
Penn State pulled away early in the second set, leading 17-9 at one point. A late run from Minnesota allowed them to close the gap, but it was Frantti who put the exclamation point on a kill to win the set 25-16.
The third set was a breakdown for Penn State. Minnesota was able to force nine Penn State attack errors. The Golden Gophers led 22-19 and finished the set with kills from Santana, sophomore Alyssa Goehner, and a service ace from Santana.
The Nittany Lions had not lost a set since December of 2014.
Rose said, “I didn’t think we were going to be like the one year we went the whole season without losing a game. I wasn’t thinking about that. We’ll lose games. The Big Ten is very tough.”
Penn State opened fourth set with a 7-5 run capped off with solo blocks from Washington and Courtney. They continued to battle in a back and forth fashion, but the Gophers rallied to pull ahead 17-16. After a timeout, the Golden Gophers had four unanswered points. A kill from sophomore Simone Lee was not enough as Minnesota took the fourth set 25-20.
The Nittany Lions clinched the fifth set 15-12 with a kill from Alli Frantti.
“ I am happy to be on the winning side, but respect the fact that there are some things we need to work on,” said Rose.
Freshman setter Bryanna Weiskircher tallied 54 assists in the match while Keeton Holcomb, freshman defensive specialist, had 18 digs.
Penn State will host Nebraska on October 2, in Rec Hall. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
Tia Pattillo is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.