We Are… Still No. 1
This is the first time in nearly two years since the Cardinal has been swept and Penn State’s home court advantage definitely pulled some weight to help make that happen. The energy in Rec Hall made it easy for the Nittany Lions to bounce back from an error or a missed scoring opportunity.
That being said, despite Penn State’s 14 attacking errors and four service errors, the team was able to put up four double-digit kill performances. Sophomore Ali Frantti and redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney shared the top spot with 13 kills apiece. Sophomore Haleigh Washington was right behind them with 12 kills and again, a team-high attack percentage of .526. Senior Megan Courtney finished off the fearless offensive push with 11 kills and also led the defense with 13 digs.
The Nittany Lions started the first match trailing behind and then went back and forth with Stanford with 3-4 point runs. The runs turned into a point-for-point battle that continued until a tie at 21-21. Two Cardinal service errors, one ace and one block later and Penn State walked away with the first match in the bag.
With the momentum from the first set on Penn State’s side of the court, the team quickly took the lead at the start of the second. It held on to the lead until Stanford came back to tie things up at 17-17. Courtney started a 4-2 run for Penn State to make the score 21-19 and forced the Cardinal to call a timeout. Stanford came out of the timeout with a kill, but again the Nittany Lions mimicked the 4-2 to finish the set 25-22.
The third set might be the biggest point deficit of the three sets, but Stanford put up more of a fight than the score says it did. The match carried the most tied scores (12) and lead changes (6) of all three sets, but Penn State’s final 7-3 run was what sealed the deal for the win.
Penn State starts the season with a 5-0 record and heads into yet another tournament coming up this weekend. Friday evening in South Bend, Ind., the Nittany Lions will kick off the Golden Dome Invitational against Eastern Kentucky. They’ll finish the tournament Saturday with games against Mississippi State and Notre Dame.