No. 1 Women's Volleyball Sweeps Wildcats in Big Ten Opener
Sept. 25, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team opened its Big Ten slate Friday night with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-16) victory against Northwestern (9-4, 0-1 Big Ten). The Nittany Lions (13-0, 1-0 Big Ten) have now won 77 consecutive matches and extended their Big Ten winning streak to 46 straight matches.
Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led the squad with 16 kills on .414 hitting, while junior Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) was the Nittany Lion leader in digs with 14. Joining Hodge in double-digit kills was junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) and junior Brown Blair (Purcellville, Va.) with 13 and 10, respectively. Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished out 45 assists and was second on the team with three blocks. Junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) led the team with four total blocks.
The Nittany Lions attacked a .442 clip totaling 50 kills, 48 assists, 40 digs and 6.5 total team blocks. Northwestern posted just 29 kills, 28 assists, 22 digs and 4.0 team blocks.
Balza and freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) combined for a block to put the Nittany Lions on the board first to start the match. However, after over the net, the Wildcats answered with a block of their own. Northwestern kept the heat on taking a two point lead it would hold until Dorton would tie it up 7-7 with a kill. The Wildcats didn't give up so easily and took control right back for a four-point edge, 11-7, after two kills, a PSU error and block by Kathryn Chrystal. After a Penn State timeout, the Nittany Lions fought back to within two, 12-10, thanks to kills from Glass and Dorton, but NU was soon back up by four after kills from Sabel Moffett and Ariel Baxterbeck. Two Northwestern errors and a huge block by Wilson and Hodge finally put Penn State ahead, 16-15, and back-to-back kills from Hodge gave PSU some much-needed breathing room. The Lions held the Wildcats to 19 points as an NU service error secured the set for PSU.
The Nittany Lions took a 3-0 lead in the first set after a triple block by Dorton, Glass and Balza and kills by Brown and Dorton. The Wildcats finally tallied a point on a kill from Baxterbeck, but the Nittany Lions worked up to a 9-4 advantage to force Northwestern to take a timeout. Following the timeout, a PSU error and two consecutive blocks brought NU within two, 9-7, but the Nittany Lions were up by four moments later after two Wildcat errors and a Dorton kill. Penn State continued to build on its lead with two kills by Brown, one from Hodge and an ace from D'Errico for a 16-10 advantage. The Wildcats would only manage two more points as the Nittany Lions continued to push offensively. Wilson posted three kills, Brown two and Glass and Wilson teamed up for a block to close out the set, 25-12.
The Wildcats may have been on the board first in the third set, but the Nittany Lions weren't far behind. Two kills each from Hodge and Wilson and an ace from D'Errico had Penn State ahead, 7-4. Northwestern worked back to within two, 10-8, but a Wildcat error and a kill from Brown kept PSU in the lead, 12-9. The Nittany Lions finally managed to break away midway through the frame. A Dorton kill had the Nittany Lions leading, 18-14, and a solo block by Balza and a sharply-angled kill from Brown brought the score to 20-15. A Northwestern timeout proved fruitless as two attack errors by NU and three Wilson kills gave Pen State the win, 25-16.
The Nittany Lions continue play on the road on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Illinois. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. in the Fighting Illini's Huff Hall. Live stats and live audio will be available via a link at GoPSUsports.com. In addition, the Big Ten Network will broadcast the match live.