No. 16 W. Volleyball Ends NCAA Tournament Run Against No. 1 Nebraska
Penn State started the five-set game off strong, winning the first two sets by two points.
A tight first set saw major plays by Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls) and Ali Frantti (Spring Grove, Ill.), both of whom have been named to the All-American team. A tense moment arose when the Cornhuskers went on a 5-1 run, but it was Frantti who came in with a kill to get Penn State back in the game. It was Frantti who notched two final kills and a block to give Penn State the set one win.
Although Nebraska came out on fire in the second set, Penn State quickly regained momentum thanks to a block from Tori Gorrell (Oakville, Ontario) and Heidi Thelen (Edgewood, Ky.). After a timeout by the Nittany Lions, Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colo.) notched a point for the Lions and she and Nia Reed (Fort Lee, N.J.) posted a block that brought the score within two.
It was Thelen who notched the lead-stealing kill, but Nebraska quickly took it back. Frantti worked hard after a Penn State timeout to regain the lead, and she and Lee secured the second set win, 25-23.
The third match was a grueling 24-26 loss for Penn State that saw multiple back-and-forth plays. At one point, the Lions went on a 3-0 and rebounded from being down 11-6. Despite great blocking by Washington and some much needed kills by Lee, the Cornhuskers took the third set.
The fourth and fifth sets showed that Penn State lost a bit of its momentum. Contributions by Lainy Pierce (Eden, N.Y.) and Lee brought the Lions within six points of securing a win, but Nebraska proved victorious and forced a fifth set with a 25-19 set win.
The fifth set was the toughest of all. Penn State did its best to fight on, but it was ultimately the top-seeded Cornhuskers who came away with a 15-6 set win.
With this loss, No. 16 women’s volleyball will draw their season to a close. Although they did not make the championship, this winning team proved that they are still one of the most dominant programs in the country, and are a name to be respected across collegiate volleyball.