LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The No. 1 Penn State women’s volleyball team (33-3) saw its season come to an end in a 3-1 (25-21, 28-30, 22-25, 19-25) loss to No. 5 Oregon(30-4) in the NCAA National Semifinals at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. The Nittany Lions were making their 10th appearance in the semifinals.
Penn State is now 78-27 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. The Nittany Lions are now 1-2 all-time against the Ducks.
Junior Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) had a match-high 18 kills , while classmate Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) posted 14. Sophomore Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) dished out 45 assists and tied for second on the team with 12 digs. Sophomore Dominique Gonzalez (San Antonio, Texas) was outstanding on defense and had a match-best 22 digs. McClendon also notched 12 digs. Freshman Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) and junior Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) had eight blocks apiece, while Scott, and sophomore Nia Grant (Warren, Ohio) had five each.
Penn State won the blocking match totaling 19.5 team blocks to Oregon’s 10.0. The Duck’s hit slightly higher at .170, while the Lions had a .165 hitting percentage. Penn State totaled 52 kills, six aces and 67 digs. The Ducks finished the match with 63 kills, six aces and 80 digs.
After a close start in set one, Penn State grabbed a 7-3 lead with two blocks and a kill from Scott. Oregon called a timeout. A 3-1 Oregon run had the Ducks within two, 8-6, but two Penn State kills sandwiching one from Oregon had Penn State leading, 10-7. The Ducks responded with three straight kills to tie the set at 10-10. An Oregon error put PSU in front, 11-10, but Alaina Bergsma pounded a kill to make it 11 all. The score tied nine more times before an Oregon error and a solo block by Courtney had Penn State with a two-point edge, 22-20. Two consecutive Nittany Lions blocks had Penn State a set point, 24-20. Martenne Bettendorf put down one final kill for the Ducks before Slay tallied a kill for a 25-21 win.
Oregon took control early in set two, 5-2. The Ducks’ lead grew to five, 8-3, sending Penn State to the bench for a timeout. Slay and Courtney joined for a block, but Oregon’s Katherine Fischer pounded a kill to keep Oregon ahead, 9-4. Hancock suffered an injury and senior Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) subbed in. Oregon scored back-to-back points for an 11-4 advantage, but Carpenter stopped a run with a solo block. The Ducks responded with a 3-1 run for a seven-point lead, 14-7. Scott and McClendon rallied Penn State each pounded a kill to bring Penn State within five, 14-9, but an error and an Oregon block kept Penn State behind, 16-9. Hancock subbed back in, but Oregon used a 4-1 run for a double-digit lead, 20-10. After an Oregon attack error, Scott sparked an impressive 8-1 run pulling Penn State within three, 21-18. Following a Fischer kill for Oregon, Courtney and McClendon each put down a kill to bring Penn State within two, 22-20. The teams went back and forth briefly before joint blocks from Scott and Grant gave Penn State the lead, 25-24. An Oregon block knotted the score at 25-25, but McClendon pounded a kill to give Penn State the edge, 26-25. The score tied twice more before an Oregon block gave the Ducks an 28-27 lead. A block by Scott and Slay made it 28 all, but a PSU service error and an Oregon kill had the Ducks with a 30-28 second set victory.
The third frame saw the teams tied early at 3-3. The score tied four more times before two kills and a block from the Ducks had Oregon leading, 9-6. Penn State fell behind by four, 12-8. A Scott putdown and a McClendon ace pulled Penn State within two, 12-10, but two kills by the Ducks and a Penn State error had Penn State trailing by four once again, 15-11. A 3-1 Penn State run narrowed the gap to two, 16-14. The Nittany Lions stayed within two until a solo block by Grant and a McClendon ace had Penn State tying the set at 19-19. After an Oregon timeout, Scott notched a kill for a 20-19 Penn State lead. However, back-to-back kills from Fischer put the Ducks back on top, 21-20, and Penn State called a timeout of its own. Penn State used a timeout and Scott tied it up with a kill. Another Oregon kill sent Penn State back to the bench. The Nittany Lions scored on one final kill before two straight kills by the Ducks gave Oregon set three, 25-22.
The Ducks jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth frame. Junior Maddie Martin (Tampa, Fla.) cut off the early run with a kill, but the Lions continued to trail. A Scott kill had Penn State within three, 6-3, but a 3-0 run by the Ducks had Oregon with a 9-3 advantage. Following a Penn State timeout, the Lions used a 3-0 run to close the gap to three, 9-6. Two straight Duck points had Oregon leading by five before Hancock dumped it over to bring Penn State within four, 11-7. Four straight points by Oregon had Penn State behind by eight, 15-7. The Nittany Lions used a timeout, but Oregon’s lead grew to 10, 20-10. Penn State again rallied taking off on a 9-3 run to be within five, 24-19. Oregon called a timeout and Lauren Plum dumped the ball into center court for the Oregon win, 25-19.