Women’s volleyball opens Big Ten slate with win over No. 3 Nebraska

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The No. 4 Penn State women’s volleyball team (11-1, 1-0 Big Ten) earned a 3-1 (23-25, 28-26, 25-17, 26-24) victory against No. 3 Nebraska (8-2, 0-1 Big Ten) Wednesday (Sept. 19) night at Rec Hall. Three Nittany Lions posted double-digit kills against the Huskers.

Junior Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) led the Nittany Lions with 23 kills on .360 hitting, while junior Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) posted 16 and junior Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) had 10 on .600 hitting. Sophomore Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) had six kills with 55 assists, 11 digs and two blocks. Sophomore Dominique Gonzalez (San Antonio, Texas) had a team-best 16 digs, while McClendon added 13. Sophomore Nia Grant (Warren, Ohio) and McClendon put up five blocks apiece.

Penn State registered a .315 attack percentage, while Nebraska hit .209. The Nittany Lions totaled 66 kills, five aces, 59 digs and 10.0 total team blocks. The Huskers totaled 55 kills, four aces, 54 digs and 14.0 team blocks.

After a 3-1 start for the Nittany Lions, the first set was close until the Huskers took a two-point lead near the midpoint of the frame, 14-12. A 3-0 run by the Huskers increased their lead to four, 17-13, and Penn State called a timeout. Penn State narrowed the gap to two, 18-16, but two straight Nebraska kills had PSU trailing by four, 20-16. After a second Lion timeout, Penn State fought to within one, 23-22, thanks in part to three straight Husker errors. Nebraska called a timeout and used two kills to claim set one, 25-23.

Penn State grabbed a 9-5 lead in the second set and Nebraska called a timeout. The Huskers trailed for much of the set, but managed to push to within one, 16-15, more than halfway through. Penn State maintained the lead with kills from Grant, Scott and freshman Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), but Nebraska pounded back-to-back kills to come within one, 22-21. Penn State called a timeout, but two straight kills from Husker Meghan Haggerty gave the Huskers a slim, 23-22, advantage. Penn State called a second timeout and a service error by Nebraska had the score knotted at 23-23. The score tied three more times before a kill by Scott had Penn State with a 27-26 lead. McClendon and Grant teamed up for a block to secure set two for PSU, 28-26.

After a close start, Penn State was leading 9-6 in the third when Nebraska called a timeout. Penn State took off on a 4-0 run to take a seven-point lead, 13-6, and send Nebraska back to its bench. The Nittany Lions never relinquished control and their momentum carried them through the remainder of the set. Nebraska came no closer than six points and Penn State won the set off a Slay kill and a Husker error, 25-17.

Despite falling behind 9-1 in the fourth and final set, McClendon sparked a 8-0 run to tie it up at 9-9. After a service error, which put Nebraska back in front, a 5-1 run had Penn State on top, 14-11. Following a Nebraska timeout, Penn State continued to maintain control with Nebraska coming no closer than two point, 22-20. Kills by Scott and junior Maddie Martin (Tampa, Fla.) had Penn State at set point, 24-21. A kill and a block by Nebraska had the Huskers within one again, 24-23. Penn State called a timeout, but an error allowed Nebraska to tie it at 24 all. However, a Nebraska error and an ace from Martin closed out the set for Penn State, 26-24.

Penn State is back in action on Saturday, Sept. 22 against Iowa. Action is set for 8 p.m. at Rec Hall.

For more information on the Penn State women’s volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women’s volleyball 2012 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.

The Penn State women’s volleyball team is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us @PennStateVBALL and at www.facebook.com/pennstatewomensvolleyball.

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