No. 1 Women's Volleyball Edged by No. 15 Michigan State in Five
Sept. 27, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite career high efforts from junior Micha Hancock and sophomore Megan Courtney, the No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team (9-2) lost a tough five-set battle (23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19, 9-15) to No. 15 Michigan State (12-2) in Nittany Lion Big Ten opener.
Courtney notched her second double-double of the season with a career-high 15 kills and 14 digs, while Hancock tallied nine kills, dishing out 57 assists. Senior Ariel Scott led the squad with a season-high 18 kills, adding eight digs and five blocks, including one solo block.
Senior Katie Slay also hit double-digits with 11 kills, while leading with a team-best six blocks, including two solo stuffs. Senior Deja McClendon tied for squad-best with 14 digs, adding seven kills on one solo block.
Penn State and Michigan State opened the match fighting point-for-point until two MSU service errors and one attacking error gave the Nittany Lions a slim lead, 16-14. Finding momentum, PSU continued to benefit from Spartan miscues, pulling ahead by as many as five, 20-15. Michigan State answered back with a 7-3 stretch, capped off with a kill from Lauren Wicinski to come within one point of the lead 22-21. From there, the Spartans closed out the set on a 4-1 run to claim the opening frame, 25-23.
With the second set tied, 9-all, Penn State managed to pull away by two, 12-10, helped out by an MSU attacking error and a kill from Scott. The Lions remained close behind for the next few points, before Courtney connected on back-to-back kills to give the Nittany Lions a three-point lead, 18-15, forcing a Michigan State timeout.
From there, Penn State used a 3-1 spurt to move ahead, 23-19, before the Spartans stormed back with a kill and a pair of blocks to make it 23-22. Both clubs traded points to knot the match up two more times before Michigan State grabbed set two, 26-24, following a pair of PSU attacking errors.
Penn State used a 4-0 run early in the third frame, capped off by an ace from Gonzalez and a kill from Courtney to go up 6-2. The Nittany Lions did not relinquish control of the lead for the remainder of the set, securing a 25-19 win stay alive in the match. Courtney led the attack in the third period, firing seven kills on 11 errorless swings for a .636 hitting clip.
Trailing by one, 5-4, in set four, Penn State doubled its advantage, 8-6, helped out by kills from Scott and McClendon and an ace from Courtney. The Spartans trimmed the advantage back to one, 9-8, but Penn State charged on, using a 7-3 streak finished off by two straight solo stuffs from Grant and McClendon put the Lions up, 16-11. PSU didn't let the Spartans any closer than four points, rallying to a 25-19 win in the fourth set to send the match into a deciding fifth and final set.
Trailing by two early in the fifth frame, Slay slammed a kill to put Penn State within one, 4-3. Penn State attacking errors hindered the Nittany Lions from moving ahead, as the Spartans built a three-point cushion, 9-6, causing PSU to call a timeout. Penn State regrouped and answered with a pair of points to come within one, 9-8, but couldn't move ahead for good, handing the Spartans a 15-9 win in the set and the match.
Penn State returns to action tomorrow, taking on No. 10 Michigan at home in Rec Hall. The matchup will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network with the first serve slated for 7:30 p.m. The 2013 Penn State women's volleyball season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.