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Aug. 29, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a balanced attack from veteran leadership and powerful newcomers, the No.1 Penn State women's volleyball team (1-0) opened the 2014 season with a straight-set victory (25-10, 25-17, 25-17) against TCU (0-1) in Rec Hall Friday evening.
Freshman Ali Frantti led the offense in her collegiate debut with 13 kills on .500 hitting, adding seven digs and a team-high four total blocks. Junior Megan Courtney followed close behind with 12 kills on .556 efficiency, tallying five digs and two blocks. Senior Nia Grant also hit above .500 with seven kills on 13 errorless swings, as well as a squad-best two aces.
Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney finished third on the team with eight kills, ranking second on the team with three total blocks.
Senior Micha Hancock paced the Nittany Lion offense to a .429 hitting clip, including a .727 mark in the opening frame. She tied for first on the team with seven digs, dishing out 37 assists to go along with two kills and two blocks. Freshmen Simone Lee and Lainy Pierce also made their collegiate debuts in the PSU victory. Lee contributed six kills.
Penn State opened the match with a slim lead, 4-3, before a TCU service error sparked a 5-0 unanswered run capped off by back-to-back kills from Courtney to make it 9-3. The Horned Frogs cut off the momentum with a kill, 9-4, but PSU fired back with a 4-2 stretch to hold on to the advantage, 13-6.
Narrowing the gap, TCU attempted to spark a rhythm with a 3-2 stretch, 15-9. Penn State responded with a 7-0 streak featuring three kills from Courtney and two from Lee to bolster the lead to 13, 22-9. A Penn State service error interrupted the strike before a trio of consecutive kills from Lee, Grant and Hancock locked up a 25-10 win in the opening set.
The Nittany Lions and the Horned Frogs traded points early in the second set, 8-7, before Penn State used a 3-0 spurt to break away with a four-point lead, 11-7. TCU answered with back-to-back kills to trim the lead to two, 11-9. Regrouping, Penn State followed with a 6-1 stretch, led by three kills from Whitney to build the lead back up to seven, 17-10.
The Horned Frogs continued to rally, using a 5-3 stretch to climb within five, 20-15. Frantti pounded a kill to make it 21-15, but a TCU kill and a PSU service error in between an attack error kept the Horned Frogs right within five, 22-17.
Rebounding, Whitney smacked back-to-back kills to make it set point, 24-17, before Lee locked up a 25-17 win in set two to send the Nittany Lions into the intermission with a 2-0 lead.
PSU came out of the break fighting point-for-point with TCU, 8-6, until a 7-0 streak sent the Nittany Lions surging ahead by as many as nine, 15-6. The Horned Frogs cut off the scoring stretch with a 4-1 strike, cutting the lead to six, 16-10. Penn State called a timeout to regroup and came out of the break a kill from Whitney to make it 17-10.
Unable to sustain the momentum, TCU continued to battle, fighting within four, 19-15, thanks to a 5-2 run. Slowing the streak, Courtney opened up a 4-1 that brought the Nittany Lions back up by seven, 23-16. The Horned Frogs made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a kill, 23-17, but a TCU attack error and a kill from Frantti secured a 25-17 win in the third set to complete the sweep.
Penn State is back at it bright and early tomorrow morning, taking on Iona at 10 a.m. in the Penn State Classic. The Nittany Lions round out the evening with a 7 p.m. matchup against William & Mary.