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Nittany Lions Consistent in Penn State Classic

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By Will Desautelle, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Following an impressive 7-0 start on the road to begin the season, Russ Rose and the second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions returned home to Rec Hall for their first three home games in the Penn State Classic.

The Nittany Lions dominated Yale Friday night for a 3-0 sweep (25-9, 25-21, 25-11), in which the Nittany Lions out-blocked the Bulldogs 13 to 3, hitting .431 for the match.

Penn State returned even more efficient Saturday morning against Wake Forest than in  Friday's home opener.

Although somewhat sluggish to start, the Nittany Lions eventually separated for a 25-16 victory in set one, before surging to a 25-11 victory in the next two sets to close out the morning.

The Nittany Lions hit an incredible .500 for the match and recorded 11 blocks and eight service aces.

"I thought we handled the ball pretty well and had good control of our net play," Rose said. "Simone [Lee] had another good match and Haleigh [Washington] continues to score well." 

Lee was nearly perfect Saturday morning, putting away 10 kills on 11 attempts. She also chipped in two blocks and five service aces. Ali Frantti added four kills on nine attempts in addition to one block.

Washington proved outstanding at the net as well, posting eight kills on nine attempts, and seven blocks to go along with two service aces. Penn State's other two middles, Heidi Thelen and Tori Gorrell, added four more kills and four blocks. 

Rose's use of two setters continues to work effectively for the Nittany Lions, as both Abby Detering and Bryanna Weiskircher have continued to shine in split setting duties. Weiskircher tallied 24 assists in the win over the Demon Deacons while Detering added eight assists and continues to be a reliable option on the right side. 

Penn State also utilized opportunities to rotate in off the bench, for Nittany Lions to gain  valuable game experience throughout the weekend. Clare Powers and freshmen Cami May and Michaela Putnicki saw time throughout the home tournament. Nia Reed also recorded three kills on three attempts against Wake Forest.

In their second match of the day, Penn State swept Ohio with Lee and Washington leading the way again with nine kills and 12 kills, respectively.

Weiskircher was used as the primary setter against the Bobcats , allowing other hitters the opportunity for more reps, particularly Reed. She added seven kills and Thelen added another six against Ohio.

"I feel much more comfortable," Reed said. "It's hard not to when you practice in the same gym and with these girls every day."

The Nittany Lions remain undefeated at 10-0, now turning the focus to Big Ten play, which begins next weekend at home against Nebraska Friday night.

"We'll need to work hard this weekend," Rose said. "We have Nebraska and Iowa coming up, and I think the players understand the importance of being prepared to play in Big Ten play." 

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