Classic Ending to the Penn State Classic Tournament
Starting the season with the annual Penn State Classic tournament, the team defeated Buffalo with dominating style and three match scores of 25-18, 25-12 and 25-16.
Familiar faces led the offense with redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney taking the top spot with 11 kills, followed by senior Megan Courtney with eight kills, four digs and four blocks. Shining sophomore Haleigh Washington finishing the trio with 10 kills, five blocks and her very first collegiate ace.
Some players to watch out for this season also took to the court for some “firsts” of their own. Sophomore Heidi Thelen made her presence known on defense with a career-high seven blocks. Freshman Keeton Holcomb took to the court in sets two and three for her collegiate debut as libero. She posted an impressive team-high 10 digs.
Redshirt freshman Bryanna Weiskircher and freshman Wilma Rivera also made collegiate debuts as setters. The young talent on the team showcases Penn State’s depth on the court for this season and future seasons.
Penn State took the match momentum early on and kept it consistent throughout the sweep. Buffalo had a few runs and kept the score tight in the beginning of the third, but Penn State’s team communication and powerful swings were on point for the big home opener.
The Nittany Lions dominated the stats over Buffalo– kills (33), hitting percentage (.303), assists (32) and blocks (12). Both teams were consistent in terms of aces and digs, but Penn State’s powerhouse of an offense couldn’t be stopped.
Next up, the Nittany Lions faced Stoney Brook at 1 p.m. Saturday in their first of two games for the day. Once again, Penn State won in a 3-0 sweep, 25-13, 25-13 and 25-20.
Courtney stepped up on both offense and defense this game leading the offense with 11 kills and pulling her weight on defense with four blocks and nine digs. Sophomore Ali Frantti followed her with her first double-digit performance at 10 kills, three digs and two blocks. Washington made it back into the top three again with seven kills and four blocks.
The first two sets started and finished pretty quickly as Penn State used their power offense to gain momentum and push for big leads. The Seawolves kept the score close in the beginning of the third set and used a key run to tie the score at 17-17. Penn State answered with two short runs and finished the game with a kill from Courtney.
Penn State went on to claim the Penn State Classic title Saturday evening with another sweep over their final opponent, Villanova (25-20, 25-23, 25-21).
Courtney her momentum from the Stony Brook game and again led the offense with 16 kills and led the defense with 13 digs and four blocks. Whitney worked her way back to the top with 14 kills and two digs. Frantti completed the familiar trio with nine kills and 12 digs.
Although the team’s hitting percentage took a dip from earlier in the weekend at .289, this game carried Penn State’s biggest number for kills of the weekend with 47.
This was the closest match-up of the weekend but with Penn State’s timing of runs and big number of kills, the team was able to finish the tournament in sweep-style.
The team also raised its 2014 National Championship banner on Saturday evening in Rec Hall in front of a roaring crowd.
The Nittany Lions are home again next weekend to host the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. They will welcome No. 24 Colorado on Friday and battle No. 2 Stanford in a televised match on Saturday. But so far so good for Penn State, starting off the season undefeated.