No. 5 Penn State Opens B1G Play With Sweep Of Michigan State
Sophomore Jonni Parker Led All Players with 16 Kills
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jonni Parker led all players with 16 kills and added three blocks and two aces to lead No. 5 Penn State to a 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-18) win over Michigan State in the Big Ten women’s volleyball opener for both teams Wednesday night at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions improved to 8-2 overall, while the Spartans dropped to 9-2 and saw their five-match winning streak come to an end.
Parker hit .343 for the match and one of just two players from either team to record double-digit kills. Tori Gorrell tallied six kills on .455 hitting, while Serena Gray totaled her six kills with a .333 hitting percentage. Gray also led a solid defensive effort with four total blocks, including one solo and three block assists.
Penn State hit .258 for the match, but that number was boosted by a terrific third set that saw the team hit .556 with 17 kills. Gorrell was nearly unstoppable during the final set, registering five kills and no errors on six total attacks for an .833 clip. Parker had six kills and one of her aces.
The Lions had three aces as a team, but that came along with nine service errors. Neither team served well as the Spartans had three aces compared to 12 service errors.
Kendall White finished with 14 digs, putting her just 35 away from moving into second on Penn State’s all-time list. It was her ninth consecutive match with double-digit digs. Also in the back row, Keeton Holcomb was lauded by head coach Russ Rose for her passing game.
Penn State continued a trend it would like to avoid as it fell behind early before coming back in each of the first two sets. The Lions trailed 12-7 at one point in the first set and were down 12-9 midway through the second.
Back-to-back attack errors by Michigan State helped Penn State tie the score at 14-all in the first set. The Nittany Lions eventually took their first lead since being up 6-5 when they took a 22-21 advantage on another attack error by the Spartans. The Spartans had 11 attack errors in the set.
With the score tied at 24-all, Penn State scored consecutive points to finally lock up set one. Allyson Cathey, who had six kills in the match, put her team up one with a kill and then helped clinch the team point with a block alongside Kaitlyn Hord.
Penn State held Michigan State to .126 hitting and had nine total blocks. Hord had three total blocks, while gabby Blossom added two. Jenna Hampton made her first career start and finished with three digs.
Meredith was the Spartans’ lone player in double-digits with 10 kills. Rebecka Poljan had seven kills and four blocks.
In support of International Week of the Deaf, a Silent Set was held at Rec Hall. The fans remained silent until Penn State scored its ninth point of the first set, which came on a kill by Gray. The ninth point was chosen in honor of Parker, who is hearing impaired. The Lions also have a deaf student manager, Ryan Perry, who played an integral role in the execution of the event.
Penn State continues Big Ten play when it welcomes Rutgers to Rec Hall for a 7 p.m. match on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are 6-6 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten following a 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-14) loss to Michigan on Wednesday.