No. 1 Penn State Stymies No. 5 Illinois
Nov. 13, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a superb effort from junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.), who tied her career high with 17 kills, the top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team (27-0, 15-0) swept No. 5 Illinois (20-4, 12-3), 3-0 (25-20, 27-25, 25-15) on Friday night with 4,163 loyal Penn State fans packed into Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to 91 consecutive matches.
Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) paced the Nittany Lion offense to a .350 hitting percentage and tallied 39 assists. Junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) finished second on the team in kills with nine and blocks with three. Junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) led the team with four total blocks and junior Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) posted a team-high 11 digs.
The Nittany Lions finished the night with 48 kills, five aces, 47 digs and 7.0 total team blocks. The Fighting Illini posted 37 kills, three aces, 36 digs and 4.0 team blocks. Penn State held Illinois to just .189 hitting for the evening.
Penn State took a 2-1 lead in the opening stanza after an Illinois error and a kill by Glass, but the Illini soon tied it up at 3-3. The Nittany Lions took the lead for good after Brown's first kill of the evening. PSU led y five, 8-3, when Illinois called its first timeout. Illinois' Laura DeBruler posted a kill after the break, but another Brown kill and a D'Errico ace had Penn State leading 10-4. By midway through the set, Penn State had built an eight-point lead, 15-7, but Illinois managed to work to within four, 15-11, after three straight PSU errors. After a kill by senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) and two Illini errors, Illinois called a second timeout. Johannah Bangert notched a kill immediately after the timeout, but Brown put up two kills followed by one from freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) to give Penn State a 21-12 advantage. The Illini managed four straight kills to come within five, 21-16, but Brown cut off the run with another kill. A kill by Illinois' Erin Johnson, another from Bangert and a PSU error brought the Illini within four, 23-19, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Wilson posted two kills after the timeout to give Penn State a 25-20 first set victory.
Despite Wilson putting the Nittany Lions on the board first in the second set with a kill, back-to-back Illinois kills would have the Illini leading early, 2-1. Brown tied the set at 2-2 with a kill, but Illinois took the lead again, 5-2, after two kills from Michelle Bartsch and an ace by Jackie Wolfe. Penn State soon regained the lead, 6-5, thanks to kills from Brown, Balza and Dorton and an Illini error. The Nittany Lions managed to stay at least one step ahead of Illinois until halfway through the set when they had developed an 18-14 lead and the Illini called a timeout. Wilson pounded a kill following the break, but two Illinois kills and two PSU errors had Illinois within three, 20-17, a short time later. Three Illinois kills and another Penn State error brought the Illini within two, 22-20, and the Nittany Lions headed to the bench. The timeout did little to slow Illinois as the two teams were soon tied at 22-22 after a Hilary Haen ace and a block by Barstch and Bangert. The teams would tie twice more before a Hodge kill and a block by Balza and Dorton secured a 27-25 second set win for Penn State.
The third set was all Penn State as the Nittany Lions took off early with a 4-0 lead. Illinois immediately called a timeout and Bangert put the Illini on the board with a kill. The two teams traded kills, but an Illini error had Penn State leading, 7-2. Illinois worked to within four points, 10-6, but that was the closest the Illini came for the remainder of the set. Penn State grabbed its largest lead of the set, 18-9, when Hodge followed a second Illinois timeout with a kill. Illinois fought to within six, 19-13, thanks to two DeBruler kills, one form Bartsch and a Wolfe ace. However, the Nittany Lions held off the Illini with on kill each from Balza, Brown and Dorton and a D'Errico ace for a 25-15 set three win. Penn State posted 16 kills on 28 errorless swings in the third set for a .571 attack percentage.
The Nittany Lions are back in action on Saturday, Nov. 14 against Northwestern. Action is set to begin at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. Live stats, audio and video will be available at GoPSUsports.com.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women's volleyball 2009 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.