No. 9 Penn State Closed Out Regular Season with 3-1 Win at Michigan State
Nov. 26, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The ninth-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team (23-7, 16-4 Big Ten) earned a second place finish in the Big Ten with a 3-1 (27-25, 16-25, 25-16, 25-15) victory at Michigan State Saturday evening.
Sophomore Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) led the team with 15 kills, while sophomore Maddie Martin (Tampa, Fla.) had a career-best 13. Freshman Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) dished out 38 assists and was third on the team with four blocks. Sophomore Ali Longo (Littleton, Colo.) had a team-best 15 digs, while sophomore Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) posted nine. Martin also posted a career-high four total blocks to tie with sophomore Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) for the team lead.
Penn State hit .271 against the Spartans (21-11, 10-10 Big Ten) and closed out the match with 55 kills, three aces, 44 digs and 12.0 total team blocks. Michigan State his .142 and totaled 47 kills, three aces, 55 digs and 7.0 team blocks.
The Nittany Lions opened the match with a 5-1 lead before a 4-0 Spartan lead had the score tied at 5-5. The score tied seven times with Michigan State taking a slim 13-12 lead after two straight points. Martin tied it up with a kill, but a service error had MSU back on top, 14-13. Martin pounded another kill, but a kill from Alexis Mathews and a solo block by Jenilee Rathje put the Spartans ahead by two, 16-14. The Spartans continued to maintain control taking a three-point lead as the set was nearing a close, 21-18. The Lions trailed until kills by Martin and McClendon and an MSU error knotted the score at 24-24. Rathje tallied a kill to put the Spartans in the lead, 25-24, but a McClendon kill and a Penn State block moved the Lions into set point position, 26-25. A Michigan State attack error secured set one for PSU, 27-25.
Despite the Spartans taking a 3-0 lead to start set two, Penn State used a 5-0 run to take command, 5-3. Penn State maintained control with the aid of four Michigan State errors and a Martin kill for an 11-6 advantage. Michigan State called a timeout, but a Longo ace increased Penn State's lead to six, 12-6. However, an 8-2 Spartan run allowed Michigan State to tie it up at 14-14. Michigan State's run continued with a block, ace and a kill to give the Spartans a three-point lead, 17-14. Hancock cut off the run with a kill to close the gap to two, 17-15, but MSU closed out the set with an 8-1 run for a convincing 25-16 win.
The Spartans took an early 6-3 lead in the third frame. It wasn't until a 5-0 run near the midpoint of the set that Penn State took control, 14-12. After a MSU timeout, the Lions maintained the lead and capitalized on kills from Martin and Scott to move the Lions ahead by four, 19-15. An MSU service error continued the Penn State run, as did kills from Martin and Hancock that increased Penn State's cushion to five, 21-16. The Spartans failed to tally any more points for the remainder of the set as a kill from freshman Nia Grant (Warren, Ohio) and a joint stuff by Grant and Hancock helped Penn State take set three, 25-16.
Penn State leapt out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth stanza. A Michigan State timeout didn't faze the Lions as their lead increased to seven, 8-1, with a block and kill from Slay. Despite two kills from the Spartans, Penn State recorded three straight points, for a 12-3 lead forcing MSU to use its second timeout. The Spartans managed to close the gap to four, 14-10, sending Penn State to the bench. After a PSU error, three straight Nittany Lions points moved Penn State ahead by six, 17-11. Mathews cut off the run with a kill, but an MSU error and a Scott kill had the Lions with a 19-12 lead. A PSU service error put the ball in MSU's hands, but another Scott kill and MSU error had the Lions closing in on the win, 21-14. Scott pounded another kill for Penn State before Grant and Hancock teamed up for a block to move Penn State closer to the win, 23-14. Rathje put down one final kill for the Spartans before Martin notched one for the Lions for the 25-15 win.
The Nittany Lions await their fate in the NCAA Tournament, which begins the weekend of Dec. 1-3. The NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship Selection Show is schedule for Sunday, Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.