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No. 7 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Takes Down No. 5 Wisconsin in Five-Set Thriller

by on November 29, 2019 10:03 PM

No. 7 Penn State women’s volleyball pulled out an impressive win over No. 5 Wisconsin Friday night at Rec Hall, ultimately storming back from an 0-2 deficit and stunning the Badgers.

Two Nittany Lions — Jonni Parker and Gabby Blossom — notched double-doubles in the 19-25, 15-25, 25-12, 25-22, 15-11 victory, which kept Penn State's Big Ten title hopes alive.

How It Happened

Russ Rose rolled out a familiar starting seven Friday night consisting of outside hitters Jonni Parker and Allyson Cathey, middle blockers Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray, setter Gabby Blossom, defensive specialist Jenna Hampton, and libero Kendall White. Cathey made her return to the lineup after missing the Rutgers match last Sunday due to an undisclosed injury.

The opening frame consisted of back-and-forth play between the two teams, as neither side led by more than two points until Wisconsin pulled out to a 23-16 lead. The Badgers went on to win 25-19 after, hitting an otherworldly .640 in the first set — a stark contrast to Penn State’s still-impressive .333 mark.

The second set also began in back-and-forth fashion, which is what you’d probably expect from two Big Ten powerhouses. The Badgers quickly regained control, though, and took the second frame 25-15 by staying hot offensively and hitting for 17 kills on .395 hitting. Wisconsin also dominated Penn State defensively, limiting the Nittany Lions to 11 kills on .289 hitting and recording five total blocks.

Penn State seemed to get its act together a bit to kick off the third frame, as it jumped out to a quick 9-5 lead early on. That lead would remain, as the Nittany Lions quickly found their groove and took the set 25-12. Penn State hit a much-improved .630 in the third game.

The Nittany Lions’ momentum carried into the fourth set as they ripped a 7-0 run to start the frame. Wisconsin eventually caught up and pulled even with Penn State at 15, but the Nittany Lions used a 10-7 run to take the set 25-22

Penn State stayed hot in the fifth and deciding set, jumping out to an 8-3 lead early on. Wisconsin didn’t go down without a fight, though, as the Badgers scored 11 points before Penn State took the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.

Parker and Blossom each tallied double-doubles in the five-set victory. Parker recorded 12 kills and 10 digs in the contest, while Blossom dished out 48 assists and 10 digs.

Four Nittany Lions recorded double-digit kills in the five-set match. Gray and Gorrell posted 13 apiece, while Parker and Hord notched 12 and 11, respectively. Hord recorded a team-high six blocks, Gray notched five, and Parker and Gorrell each put up four.

White recorded 14 digs in the match to bring her career total up to 1,923. She now needs just 35 more to pass Kaleena Walters and become Penn State’s all-time digs leader.

While her team wasn’t victorious, Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke put on a brilliant performance. She posted 15 kills and 13 (yes, 13) blocks in the five-set loss, nearly single-handedly carrying the Badgers to a win.

With the victory over the Badgers, Penn State is now tied for first place in the Big Ten alongside Wisconsin at 17-2. The Nittany Lions need to defeat No. 7 Minnesota and hope that Wisconsin falls to Rutgers if they hope to take the conference outright. Otherwise, the Badgers and Nittany Lions will share the title.

Player Of The Match

Gabby Blossom | Setter

Blossom’s electric performance was the difference-maker in this one. She put up 48 assists to power the Nittany Lions’ offense and added five kills of her own en route to the five-set victory. Blossom also totaled 10 digs, good for second on the team.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions (24-4, 17-2 Big Ten) will wrap up their regular season with a match against No. 8 Minnesota on Saturday at Rec Hall. First serve against the Gophers is set for 8 p.m. and the match will air on the Big Ten Network.

Matt DiSanto is a Penn State student and writer for Onward State.
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