By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Penn State cruised past Rutgers at Rec Hall Saturday night, winning in straight sets (25-9, 25-9, 25-12) to improve to 23-1 (13-1 Big Ten) on the season.
"We hit .700 for the match so you have to be impressed by that and I thought we played a clean game," Penn State head coach Russ Rose said.
Senior Haleigh Washington continued her strong play, leading the Nittany Lions with 12 kills and five blocks. Redshirt sophomore Tori Gorrell also added seven kills and two blocks in an impressive collective evening for Penn State's two primary middles.
The Nittany Lions overwhelmed Rutgers with their size all match, out-blocking the Scarlet Knights 9.0-5.0, hitting a combined .567 on the night to their .056 hitting percentage.
"Rutgers is challenged in some areas right now," Rose said. "They're in transition with personnel, and it's a really tough year in the conference to be in that situation."
Saturday was also the second home game in a row in which Penn State saw impressive contributions from players off the bench. Senior Clare Powers entered in the second set and recorded four kills on as many attempts, along with an ace.
Redshirt junior Nia Reed also came off the bench and had three kills on four attempts, in addition to a solo block. Reed, who had eight kills on her first eight swings against Wisconsin last week, has given Penn State another reliable option off the bench for coach Rose.
It was also senior night on Saturday, as the Nittany Lions honored eight Nittany Lions who all entered the game at some point.
Together, the Nittany Lion seniors combined for 31 of Penn State's 42 total kills and 14 of 24 total digs in the win against Rutgers.
"They are terrific people," Rose said. "The goal is always to leave the program at a better place. All of them are great young people. They're all great students and great representatives of their families and Penn State."
Several of the Nittany Lions seniors also reflected on the impact Penn State has had throughout their careers.
"I don't think I'd be the player I am today if I went to any other school," senior Lainy Pierce said.
Washington also called it a blessing and incredible honor to wear a Penn State uniform for the last four years.
"To be given the opportunities that some of the players who helped build this program has been an absolute blessing."
The top-ranked Nittany Lions will be on the road against Iowa on Wednesday looking to extend their current 13-game winning streak.