BLOG: Lions Roll Past Buckeyes
Oct. 24, 2013
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
The team attacked at a .333 clip in the opening set and carried that momentum for the rest of the match en route to their eighth-straight victory in Big Ten play.
The Nittany Lions started the match with a 7-1 run in the first set. Three consecutive blocks from senior middle hitter Katie Slay and senior right side hitter Ariel Scott, followed by an ace by junior setter Micha Hancock fired up the Lions.
"[In] the first game, we blocked really well. I think that kind of set the ball rolling as far as what [the team] wanted to do offensively because we blocked so many balls at the beginning," head coach Russ Rose said.
Ohio State tried to power up its offense, but only scored five more points before calling a timeout at 16-6. After the timeout, the Buckeyes were only able to score three more points before the Lions closed out the set. The final four points included an ace and a kill from Hancock. Penn State held the Buckeyes to a negative hitting percentage, -0.133, in the first set.
Hancock led the team defensively with 11 digs and three blocks. She also tallied three aces, 23 assists and five kills with a .667 hitting percentage.
"Micha stepped up big time getting those digs and I think that shows how much hard work she's been putting in the past couple days," senior Deja McClendon said.
In the second set, Penn State's offense was still on point at a .327 hitting percentage. McClendon and senior right side hitter Ariel Scott led the team offensively in this frame, with three kills each.
"It was a match where the other team was a little out of synch. You want to keep the ball in play and get as many points as you possibly can and get out of there before they click into gear and start playing a little better," Rose said.
In the final set, the Lions trailed 2-1, but came back strong with eight consecutive points. The Buckeyes answered with five points, making the score 16-10. Three consecutive kills from Slay, Scott and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Aiyana Whitney brought the score to 19-10. The Nittany Lions finished the match at a score of 25-16 after successive kills from Hancock.
Ohio State finished the match at a -0.030 hitting percentage. The last time Penn State held a Big Ten team to a negative hitting percentage was in November of 2008 against Indiana, holding them to a -.020 hitting percentage.
"I've seen films of Ohio State where they played much better than they played tonight," Rose said. "I thought we controlled the ball from the end line. And we didn't get aced."
After matches this season, such as Illinois, where the team had 16 service errors and only three aces, Rose was pleased that the team collectively had only three service errors against Ohio State. The team tallied six aces against the Buckeyes. McClendon contributed to this with a season-high two aces. The last time McClendon had two aces in a match was against Oregon in the NCAA Semifinals last year, when she tallied three aces.
McClendon led the No. 2-ranked team offensively, with 10 kills and a .500 hitting percentage. She also tallied two blocks. Rose said McClendon did well passing and hitting, but McClendon herself noted that she and the team have some things to work on before Saturday's match against Iowa.
"I'm going to get in the gym and work on my serve. We kept our serves in, but we have to serve a lot tougher if we want to win big matches," McClendon said. "As a team, we have to keep working on that defense."
Penn State is undefeated in its last 15 matches against Iowa. Although the Hawkeyes haven't had much success against the Nittany Lions, Rose knows his team needs to improve before Saturday.
"I think the girls know we didn't play as well as we could, but we're happy with the results and we know we'll have to play better on Saturday against Iowa," Rose said. "They went four and five games with some of the top teams in the conference. So I know they have some players that are very talented and we will have to be ready to play."
Catch the Nittany Lions take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Rec Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m.