No. 4 Lions Knock Out Cornhuskers in Conference Opener

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team will tell you time and time again that it heads into every match that it plays with the same goal, the same attitude and the same expectation.

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But if you sat in Rec Hall on Wednesday night among 3,374 other screaming fans and watched the Lions rally back to knock off third-ranked Nebraska, you might make the argument that the conference-opening match felt a bit more important.

The Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers displayed what looked more like a postseason volleyball matchup as each team put it all on the line in the Big Ten season opener. After dropping the first set 25-23, Penn State found momentum and powered back to win three straight sets and take the match 3-1 over Nebraska.

Even Penn State head coach Russ Rose, who was a coach at Nebraska 36 years ago, noticed the intensity during the midweek match.

"That was a hotly-contested match and I thought we did some things really well and I thought we did some things that were characteristic of how we've played lately," said Rose. "It's a nice win against a terrific opponent."

Despite his recent concerns for his team's ability to stay organized and communicate well on the court, Rose said that he was pleased with the team effort that he saw during the match. The head coach recognized that winning against a team that was the number one squad in the country a week ago is something to be noted.

"When you get a couple of heavyweights sometimes it looks like a pillow fight and sometimes it looks like a brawl," said Rose. "It just means that we're capable of playing with some of the better teams and that's good for us to know that."

Up two sets to one heading into the fourth set, the Cornhuskers took a 9-1 lead that looked like it could be the start of a messy game. But the Lions went on an eight-point run to tie it at nine and took the lead five points later to make it 12-11 in their favor.

He said he wouldn't consider his actions a result of being happy, but Rose even clapped in approval of his team's comeback.

"Well we were down 9-1 and we got ourselves the lead," shrugged Rose.

Junior Katie Slay said the comeback did more than just make her and her teammates happy at the time.

"It makes a big difference in the match obviously because you get back into it," said Slay. "But it also brings the crowd back into it which just fires up the whole gym, fires us up and we're really appreciative that we had such a big student section tonight and they brought a lot of energy."

The middle hitter tallied 10 kills on a .600 attack percentage and agreed that the team's one was a joint effort from start to finish.

Junior Ariel Scott had the hot-hand on the evening, ripping 23 kills on .360 hitting and contributing a timely service ace too. The right-side hitter said that her setter, Micha Hancock, was another big part of the team's win as she seemed to have a good vibe with most of the Lion hitters all night.

"Micha and I had a good connection tonight so hopefully we can continue that throughout the Big Ten season," said Scott.

The win over the Cornhuskers puts Penn State at 11-1 this season and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The Lions will continue their conference start-up with another match in Rec Hall against Iowa this Saturday at 8 p.m.

Slay said that there will be no time to rest before her team's next match.

"It's always good to come away with a win but we know it's just the very beginning," said Slay.

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