Big Ten/ Pac-12 Tournament Starts Off Strong

Big Ten/ Pac-12 Tournament Starts Off Strong

Another tournament begins strong for the No.1 Nittany Lions as they pushed past No. 21 Colorado in the first game of the Big Ten/ Pac-12 Challenge on Friday evening.

The team won in its usual three-game-sweep fashion (25-19, 25-21, 25-18). Sophomore Haleigh Washington topped of the offense with eight kills and a perfect .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore Ali Frantti followed with seven kills and sophomore Heidi Thelen finished off the top three with four kills.

Penn State’s defense stepped up its game from its last showing at the Penn State Classic tournament. The team’s strong blocking game was the key factor that led to the sweep. Thelen powered the blocking game with a team-high seven blocks followed by Washington and redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney each with four blocks. Senior Megan Courtney did her duty on defense as well adding 12 digs.

Colorado trumped Penn State in total kills, but the Nittany Lions’ efficiency in their kills made up for the deficit. Penn State’s hitting percentage stood at .172 while Colorado’s fell to .055. As mentioned before, the game-changing stat was the blocking game. The Nittany Lions totaled 13 blocks and Colorado only put up three.

The closeness of the set scores says that Penn State didn’t play as well of a game as it’s capable of. But at the same time, it’s impressive that the team doesn’t have to be at the very tippy-top of its game to produce a sweep like this one.

But the real test of the Big Ten/ Pac-12 tournament is yet to come.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions will take on No. 2 Stanford at a primetime 8 p.m. spot and the match will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Stanford is coming off of a 3-1 win over No. 6 Illinois. Both the Cardinals and Nittany Lions share the same 3-0 undefeated record. Needless to say, this most likely isn’t going to a three game sweep.