By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's volleyball went undefeated against two Top 25 teams during the first weekend of Big Ten play at home, earning a victory against Michigan Saturday night.
No. 16 Penn State and No. 20 Michigan started in electrifying fashion with the two teams trading points back-and-forth early on in the first set. Both teams were tied at 4-4, but a kill from junior Ali Frantti after a long rally sparked momentum to bring the Nittany Lions ahead. She recorded another kill, leading the Nittany Lions to a five-point cushion. The Lions captured the first set and went on to complete the sweep in the next two (25-20, 25-19, 25-15).
Frantti powered the team the rest of the night and led the offense for the first time all season, recording 11 kills on a .391 hitting clip, while also posting a team-high six digs.
"I thought Ali had a terrific night passing," head coach Russ Rose said. "They served her every ball, she passed great and we moved the ball around well."
Junior middle blocker Haleigh Washington also contributed to the victory over the Wolverines. Washington registered a team-high eight blocks, while also leading from the service line with three aces and adding eight kills.
Junior Simone Lee also contributed eight kills, while also finishing tied for second on the team with four blocks.
Having moved from middle to the right side for the Nittany Lions this year, junior Heidi Thelen recorded six kills on nine errorless swings, leading the team with a match-high .667 hitting efficiency. Thelen also logged four blocks.
Together, Frantti, Lee, Washington and Thelen combined for 15 block assists, with Washington and Thelen both attacking at better than .570 through three sets.
The Nittany Lions had just finished a sweep against No. 18 Michigan State Friday night and they used their time off to practice for the win tonight.
"I thought we passed really well [tonight]," coach Rose said. "We missed nine serves last night and we missed nine serves tonight, so I think that there's going to be some situations where we're having a more risky approach to serving rather than a prudent decision, but when you're playing at home and you're siding out well, that's probably not the most opportune time to do that...I think we have a good rotation right now."
With the win, Penn State has its last 11 sets, improving its overall record to 12-3 and 4-0 in Big Ten play. While the Lions faced adversity early on this season, they will be coming out of this weekend more confident than ever.
It will be a quick turn over for the Nittany Lions as they're set to face No. 2 Minnesota on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Rec Hall for a "White Out in Rec Hall."