Better late than never: No. 5 Penn State rallies to beat No. 23 Michigan

Better late than never: No. 5 Penn State rallies to beat No. 23 Michigan

A late Nittany Lion rally stunned No. 23 Michigan on Wolverine turf this past Wednesday. After falling behind, Penn State came back to win the match in the final two sets (25-18, 22-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-7).

Redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney finished first on the offense with career-high 18 kills and also came in second on the team on defense with eight blocks. Sophomore Haleigh Washington also had a career-high for second place with 17 kills. Sophomore Simone Lee finished off the top three with 14 kills.

Washington had a team high hitting percentage of .593 and also contributed five blocks. Sophomore Heidi Thelen led the defense with nine blocks. Sophomore Ali Frantti stepped up in place of senior Megan Courtney and led the team with 17 digs. And as always, freshman Bryanna Weiskircher steadied the offense with 53 assists.

In the first set, the Nittany Lions built momentum off of Wolverine errors and strong offensive runs to lead them to victory. In the second set, Penn State seemed to run out of time towards the end as the score inched closer and closer but the team couldn’t hold off Michigan’s offense long enough to let its own thrive.

Michigan dominated the third set feeding off of momentum from the second and its home crowd. The Nittany Lions could not find a groove and found themselves behind 1-2.

In the fourth set, the two teams went point for point until Penn State broke away with a 4-1 run and forced Michigan into a timeout. From there the Lions kept a steady lead until the Wolverines closed in at 17-17. From here, Penn State went ahead as Michigan trailed hot on their tale. When they came within one at 21-20, Penn State called a timeout.

After the break, the Nittany Lions rallied four unanswered points to win the set and forced a fifth. This was a key run for Penn State and ultimately set the tone for set five.

The two teams exchanged the first few points until Penn State broke away with a 5-1 run and made the score 8-3. The rest was history.

The Nittany Lions went on to win the fifth set and the match and raised their record to 18-2, 7-2 in the conference. The team finishes its trip to Michigan on Saturday evening against Michigan State at 8 p.m.