By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team defended their home court on Wednesday night and defeated No. 23 Ohio State for the 37th time in series history with a convincing 3-0 sweep.
For Penn State head coach Russ Rose, the win over the Buckeyes was one of the better matches that he has seen his team play this season.
"I thought we did some things much better than we've done in the past,"
said Rose. "It was good to have a game where we didn't make a lot of errors
other than the service errors. I'm appreciative of a good match with a nice
The Nittany Lions powered past the Buckeyes with timely blocking, smooth passing and a surge of offensive firepower from a handful of hitters to take all three sets on the evening.
Penn State's offense came alive even more than it has in recent matches as freshman Nia Grant and sophomore Katie Slay led the team with nine kills apiece, while sophomore Ariel Scott followed with eight of her own. Sophomores Deja McClendon and Maddie Martin each added seven kills as well, keeping the Buckeye blockers guessing on every point.
Rose said that aside from a few smaller concerns he had, he was happy with the outcome of his squad's strong hitting performance.
"For us to hit .404 is the highest we've hit in a conference match so that's a very positive thing," said Rose. "Other than the serving and a couple of people not being ready to play in the first game I thought we played a pretty clean match so I'm glad the band was here and the students because that environment really helps the home team a great deal."
And although a number of Nittany Lions made a case for themselves on the floor, Slay seemed to be the one who was getting it done all match long. The sophomore not only led the team in kills but also in blocks, tallying eight at the net all match.
Slay said that her ability to contribute both offensively and defensively is something she expects to do every game, and her play was made even more possible with the help of her freshman setter.
"I think that that is just my role," said Slay. "That's what I need to do. Like coach said there was a good match-up out there but I think it all goes back to Micha [Hancock]. She did a great job seeing the blockers. She was really watching where they were going and getting a lot of one-on-one opportunities for the hitters so that's always great when your setter is giving you a one-on-one opportunity and you have to finish.
Rose said that he was especially happy to see his 6-foot-6 middle hitter using her height and talent to make the most of her touches on the ball.
"I thought she did a nice job hitting the ball," said Rose. "You know she doesn't have to hit it hard, she can hit it high and she can just hit it into areas of the court where there are some vacant areas. I thought she did that and she had some nice blocks and she needs to do that. That's the part of the game we need her to have."
The win puts the Nittany Lions at a 7-2 record in the Big Ten and 14-5 overall this season. Penn State's match against the Buckeyes was the first of four consecutive matches that will be played in Rec Hall in the coming weeks.
On Saturday, Penn State hosts No. 21 Michigan in another conference match-up. For Slay, the team's win over Ohio State should be a good motivation tool before their next contest.
"I think it's always great to get a win," said Slay. "Especially 3-0 when we're at home as well so it definitely is nice to get a win but we know that Michigan is also a really great team so we have to come into practice and get focused on Michigan and keep this streak into the weekend."