No. 1 Penn State Pounds No. 12 Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team used a balanced offense and a staunch defense to pound No. 12 Minnesota in three games (25-18, 25-15, 25-12) Saturday night in Minneapolis, Minn., in front of 10,126 fans at Williams Arena. The Nittany Lions remain perfect at 18-0 and 6-0 in the Big Ten while the Golden Gophers fall to 15-3 and 5-1 in league action.
As a team, Penn State attacked at a .447 clip, its second-highest hitting percentage of the conference season and its fourth Big Ten match of hitting .400 or better. Junior outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) collected a match-high 15 kills on .371 hitting as sophomore middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) posted 10 kills on .692 hitting. Senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) posted eight kills on .429 hitting while senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) tallied seven kills on .545 hitting.
Junior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) directed the offense with 34 assists and senior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) led all players with 13 digs as Fawcett posted five. As a team, Penn State out-dug Minnesota, 32-25.
The Nittany Lions dominated the blocking game, 14.0 to 2.0. Glass and Harmotto each provided a match-high and season-high nine stuffs while Wilson and sophomore Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) each collected three stuffs.
Penn State posted four aces, including one each from Fawcett, Hodge, junior Kelsey Ream (State College, Pa.) and Cathy Quilico (Thousand Oaks, Calif.).
Minnesota jumped out to the early 6-2 lead to start the mach behind two kills and three Penn State errors. The Nittany Lions fought back to within one at 6-5 on a Glass and Harmotto block before a Gopher error knotted the game at 7-7. The teams exchanged points before a Minnesota attack error and a Brown and Wilson block put Penn State up 10-8. The Nittany Lions maintained the slight advantage, going up 15-13 on a Brown kill and solo Glass stuff and then 19-15 on a Hodge kill and Kelsey Ream ace. Following a Gopher timeout, Minnesota scored the next two points to pull within two at 19-17. A Fawcett kill and a Gopher attack that sailed long gave Penn State the 21-17 lead and then a Hodge putaway made it 23-18 before a Wilson kill and a Gopher attack error gave the Nittany Lions the first game, 25-18. Hodge led the Lions with five kills in the set.
A Golden Gopher service aces again put it up early in the second set, 3-1, but the Nittany Lions responded with kills from Hodge and Wilson and a Minnesota attack error to help even the game at 4-4. A Harmotto solo block put Penn State up 5-4 and following a Lion error, a Hodge kill sparked a 6-0 Penn State run encompassing four blocks including three from Harmotto and Glass to put the Lions up 12-5. A Hodge kill out of the back row along with a Wilson and Brown stuff made it 15-8 before an overpass kill from Brown extended the score to 18-10. A Hodge kill pushed Penn State up 20-12 before a monster Harmotto slide kill gave the Lions the 22-14 advantage. Three consecutive Wilson kill ended the set, 25-15. As a team, Penn State hit .545 in the second game and racked up six blocks.
Kills from Hodge, Glass, Harmotto and Fawcett along with consecutive blocks by Glass and Harmotto put Penn State up 7-3 in the third stanza. Kills from Hodge and Fawcett made it 10-4 and before a Brown solo block and a Harmotto overpass kill pushed the score to 15-8. Another Harmotto and Glass block along with a Glass kill that she wiped off the block extended the Lion advantage to 17-8. Two Hodge kills and an ace from Cathy Quilico put Penn State up 20-10 and a Glass and Wilson block made it 22-10 before two Wilson kills and a Fawcett service ace ended the game, 25-12. Penn State sided-out at a perfect 100% in the third game, going 12-for-12.
The Nittany Lions return home to host Michigan and Ohio State on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, which is also Homecoming Weekend. Penn State will face the Wolverines on Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET before taking on the Buckeyes at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Homecoming parade will take place before Friday night's match and the Penn State-Michigan football game is slated for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. across campus at Beaver Stadium before the Nittany Lion-Buckeye volleyball match.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com . The Penn State women's volleyball 2008 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.
Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.