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Nittany Lions Tested in Maryland Sweep

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By Will Desautelle, student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-ranked Penn State swept Maryland (25-14, 25-21, 25-16) in front of a packed house in Rec Hall to extend its win streak to 15 consecutive matches.

Although the score might not reflect it, the Nittany Lions didn't play as clean as intended, and to head coach Russ Rose, it was the large crowd on homecoming weekend that played an integral role in propelling Penn State to victory. 

"I thought it was a fabulous crowd," Rose said. "We are very appreciative of the promotions and marketing people that put a lot of time in." 

It was arguably one of the best Rec Hall crowds of the entire season, as spectators lined the  upper track level to watch the match, with standing room only space available.

Prominently contributing to Saturday night's win was the evenly distributed effort from Rose's team.

All-American outside hitter Simone Lee led the way with 10 kills for the Nittany Lions, but no other Nittany Lion had more than five kills, with five different individuals adding at least three kills.

Tori Gorrell was efficient out of the middle for the Nittany Lions, adding five kills on seven total attacks.

"I thought [Tori] was in a better position to hit the ball," Rose said. "We talk to Tori a lot about getting her more swings and part of that in the equation is that she has to be in a position where she can take a good swing. I thought she took some good swings." 

Gorrell helped lead a dominant performance at the net for Penn State, contributing three of the Nittany Lions' 13 total team blocks Saturday night.

"I just think we do a really good job in practice of reading the other team and trying to see where they are going and make plays," Gorrell said.

Maryland, however, gave the Nittany Lions a lot of free point throughout the match, as they committed 29 attacking errors and 11 service errors. They also hit just .047 for the match. Despite the numerous self-inflicting errors, Rose thought Maryland gave his team a necessary tough test. 

"They had more kills than we did and they made more errors, but they've got young kids and I think [they] are doing a great job of building the program," Rose said. "That was a really good team we played tonight."

Rose also pointed out that Maryland's tendency to serve aggressively gave Penn State problems passing in serve receive when they were able to put the ball on the court.

"On the balls they serve in, they serve really hard," Rose said. "Everybody has a plan and I don't think they become distracted when they miss their serves," Rose said. "They're going to do what they do well. We knew they were going to be good." 

Rose, who has made a blueprint in his 38-year tenure for hardly being satisfied after a win, made several indications that Penn State still has plenty of work to do before he becomes satisfied. 

"It's nice to win, but I hope Maryland taught [our] players the lessons they needed to because they won the serve-pass game in spite of the fact of missing 11 serves," Rose said.

He ended the night with what he feels is a valuable quote from a book he reads frequently for his team to focus on heading into next week.

"Would you rather have discipline or disappointment?" Rose said. "Some people are happy how we played -  I think we'll get in the gym and work a little bit harder on Monday." 

The Nittany Lions will take on Indiana  Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall for their final home game of the regular season. 

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