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Nov. 8, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team (24-2, 14-1 Big Ten) swept the Fighting Illini, 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-14), Thursday evening at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions out-served and out-blocked Illinois (11-14, 5-10 Big Ten) on their way to the victory.
Junior Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) led Penn State with 11 kills and junior Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) added seven. Sophomore Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) paced the offense with 21 assists and freshman Kendall Pierce (Eden, N.Y.) posted two aces. Sophomore Dominique Gonzalez (San Antonio, Texas) led the Lions on defense with 11 digs and junior Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) had a team-best five blocks.
Penn State registered a .298 hitting percentage. The Lions totaled 35 kills, five aces, 33 digs and 8.5 team blocks in the three set match. Illinois hit .034 with 26 kills, four aces, 35 digs and 7.0 team blocks.
The Nittany Lions opened the match with a 10-2 run with Illinois calling a timeout with the score at 7-2. Illini Erin Johnson pounded a kill to cut off the run, but Penn State kept firing with a 4-1 run to bring its lead to double-digits, 14-4. After a second Illinois timeout, Penn State's lead grew to 11, 16-5, thanks to a Slay kill. Illinois followed up with a 6-3 run to narrow the gap to seven, 19-12. The run didn't faze the Lions as two Illinois errors helped Penn State on a 4-1 run for a 23-13 lead. Jocelyn Birks pounded a kill to spark another short Illinois run, which brought the Illini within six, 23-17. Penn State called a timeout, and after an Illinois service error Hancock closed out the set with a kill for a 25-17 win.
Penn State trailed for much of the second stanza. Illinois was ahead by as much as five, 13-8, before Penn State began its push to take control. Three straight PSU kills moved PSU within two, 13-11, and Illinois called a timeout. Penn State continued to trail until back-to-back Illini errors knotted the score at 15-15. The score tied twice more before Hancock put down a kill to begin a 9-0 run that closed out the set for PSU, 25-17. McClendon had three kills during the run and Slay added two.
The Nittany Lions continued their domination in set three and had a 6-1 advantage when Illinois headed to the bench for a timeout. Pierce, who had served three straight points before the timeout, helped Penn State continue the run as the Illini recorded three consecutive errors and she registered an ace to make it 10-1. Illinois used its second timeout and an Illini error and three PSU kills brought the score to 14-1. Two Illinois kills finally cut off Penn State's impressive run and had the Illini within 11, 14-3. Penn State continued to maintain control, never allowing the Illini to cut the lead to single digits. With Penn State leading 19-9, Illinois and Penn State began trading points. However, Illinois was never able to steal any momentum and never came closer than nine as the set began to come to a close. Sophomore Nia Grant (Warren, Ohio) pounded a kill to put Penn State at set point, 24-13. Despite a kill from Johnson for Illinois, the Illini followed it with an attack error for a 25-14 PSU win.
Penn State hosts Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in Rec Hall. The match has been designated Dig Pink. Dig Pink is an annual event with the Side-Out Foundation which raises awareness for breast cancer research. The first 200 students get a free Dig Pink t-shirt. Fans are encouraged to wear pink. For more information on the Side-Out Foundation, please visit www.side-out.org.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com.' The Penn State women's volleyball 2012 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.
The Penn State women's volleyball team is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us @PennStateVBALL and at www.facebook.com/pennstatewomensvolleyball.