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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 16-seed Penn State women's volleyball team (24-9) knocked off the Pitt Panthers (25-9) on Saturday evening inside Rec Hall, 3-1 (20-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-18), to advance to its 13th straight NCAA Regional appearance.
Penn State rallied after dropping the first set behind a strong blocking performance at the net. Penn State posted 13.0 blocks to Pitt's 5.5, with five players tallying multiple rejections to help account for the steep margin. The block also helped to force 28 errors from the Panthers.
PSU also had another strong showing on the offensive end, as the team hit at an impressive .321 clip while seeing a trio of Nittany Lions reach double figures in the kill column. It marked the 22nd match in 2016 where Penn State hit .300 or better, with PSU owning a 21-1 record while hitting the efficiency benchmark.
Junior middle blocker Haleigh Washington had a standout performance, logging team bests in both kills (14) and blocks (six). She added a dig and an assist.
Classmate Simone Lee tied Washington's team-best kills output and came a dig shy of her fourth career double-double with nine. She tacked on a pair of blocks as well.
Fellow outside Ali Frantti posted 11 kills to round out the players finishing with double-figure kills.
Abby Detering guided the offense, posting 42 assists while adding four blocks. She tacked on two aces to lead the team and put up five kills.
Redshirt freshman Tori Gorrell logged eight kills on .500 hitting and posted five rejections, while true freshman libero Kendall White put up 18 digs in her second NCAA appearance and added six assists.
With the win, PSU moves on to the NCAA Regional for the 13th-straight season. Penn State will head to Lincoln, Nebraska, to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the round of 16 on Dec. 9.
After dropping the first set 25-20, the Nittany Lions opened the second on a 6-3 tear, powered by a pair of kills and an ace from Lee. A pair of kills from Frantti and one from Detering extended Penn State's lead to 12-7, forcing Pitt's first timeout.
Pitt pulled within four at 13-9 before PSU went on a 4-1 run in which Lee and Detering added kills. Pitt called for time, trailing by seven at 17-10. Penn State continued to plug away at the Panthers, as Washington capped a 5-2 spurt with a pair of kills to take a 22-12 lead. Pitt scored four more times before a final kill from Washington won the second set, 25-16.
PSU was dominant in the third, posting 7.0 blocks total in the frame. Penn State had a pair of rejections in the first seven points, as Gorrell and Lee paired up for one to cap a 6-1 run. Pitt called for time, but PSU pushed the lead to seven on a pair of strikes from Washington, making the score 12-5. Pitt used its second timeout.
Penn State took three of the next four points out of the break before a block from Thelen and Gorrell and an error by Pitt made the gap 10 at 19-9. Gorrell added a pair of strikes before a rejection from Washington and Detering made it 23-12. Three plays later a spike from Washington sealed the third, 25-13.
The Nittany Lions looked to take care of business in the fourth frame, opening on a 9-5 tear, thanks to kills from Lee, Gorrell and Frantti and a solo block from Detering. Pitt called for time, but PSU responded with three straight points, as Washington slammed down back-to-back kills before a Panthers error. A strike from Frantti made it 13-6 before Pitt made a 3-0 run. Penn State would lead by as much as six, as Frantti thundered down her 11th kill to make the score 20-14. Pitt followed the score with two of their own. Penn State called its first timeout of the fourth set.
Penn State closed out the match on a 5-2 run, with a slam from Gorrell punching Penn State's ticket to the Regional round for a 25-18 fourth set victory.
- No. 16 Penn State pushed past Pittsburgh in four sets (20-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-18) during the second round of the NCAA tournament.
- Three Nittany Lions recorded double figure kills in the match. Junior Simone Lee and classmate Haleigh Washington tied to lead the offense posting 14 kills apiece. Junior Ali Frantti finished second on the team with 11 kills.
- Penn State out-blocked Pittsburgh 13.0 to 5.5 with multi-block performances by six different Nittany Lions. Junior Haleigh Washington led the blocking unit with six blocks followed by redshirt freshman Tori Gorrell logging five blocks.
- Junior Abby Detering matched a career-high mark of four blocks while junior Heidi Thelen matched a season-high mark of four blocks.
- PSU out-aced Pittsburgh 5-2 thanks to service aces from four Nittany Lions. Junior Abby Detering served up two aces to lead the team from the service line.
-Penn State moves to a 31-17 advantage in the all-time series against Pittsburgh and 17-3 in matches played at home in Rec Hall.
-The Nittany Lions currently have a 15-match winning streak against the Panthers.
Haleigh Washington, junior middle blocker: Washington notched a pair of match-high marks to lead both the offense and defense, tallying 14 kills and six blocks.
Simone Lee, junior outside hitter: Lee tied to lead the team charting 14 kills and dishing out nine digs in the match. She also posted two blocks and served up an ace. With her fourth kill of the match, she moved to sole possession of third on the single season kills leaderboard during the 25-point rally scoring era with 481 during 2016.
Ali Frantti, junior outside hitter: Frantti finished second the team tallying 11 kills to go along with three digs and two blocks. It marks her 12th time scoring in double figures this season.
Kendall White, freshman defense specialist: White registered a team-high 18 digs and contributed six assists.
Abby Detering, junior setter: Detering dished out 42 assists and matched a career-high mark of four blocks, including one solo stuff. She also added five kills, four digs and two service aces.
Heidi Thelen, junior middle blocker: Thelen put down four kills and matched a season-high mark with four blocks.
Tori Gorrell, redshirt freshman middle hitter: Gorrell posted eight kills and finished second on the team with five blocks.