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Penn State Women’s Volleyball Defeats Towson to Reach Sweet 16; Kendall White Sets Digs Record

by on December 07, 2019 9:32 PM

No. 11 overall seed Penn State women’s volleyball (26-5, 17-3 Big Ten) defeated Towson 3-1 in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament Saturday night at Rec Hall.

The Nittany Lions served a season-high 11 aces in the 22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-20 win over the Tigers.

After recording 14 digs in the match, senior libero Kendall White passed Kaleena Walters to become Penn State’s all-time digs leader. She’s up to 1,969 and counting.

How It Happened

Russ Rose’s starting seven featured outside hitters Jonni Parker and Tori Gorrell, middle blockers Serena Gray and Kaitlyn Hord, setter Gabby Blossom, defensive specialist Keeton Holcomb, and libero Kendall White.

Sloppy hitting and a slow start hurt Penn State in the first frame, which the Nittany Lions lost 25-22. They trailed by as many as seven points in the opening game and hit just .229 as a team.

Penn State found its stride as the second set began, though, and cruised to a 25-16 win. The Nittany Lions hit .393 in this set and dominated from the service line, recording six aces and keeping the Tigers on their feet.

The Nittany Lions continued playing well into the third set, hitting .303 as a team en route to a 25-17 third-set victory. Penn State’s defense held the Tigers to .303 hitting in the third set and recorded three total blocks.

Penn State’s momentum carried into the fourth frame, which it won 25-20. The Nittany Lions once again played outstandingly from the service line and used three service aces and 16 kills to close out the match.

The difference between Penn State’s first set and the ensuing three was night and day. The Nittany Lions hit .229 in the first frame and recorded five hitting errors. After that, they hit .378 as a team and tallied a season-high 11 service aces.

White became Penn State’s all-time digs leader in the match after recording 14 digs, bringing her career total up to 1,969. What else would you expect from the 2018 and 2019 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year?

“I tried to ignore [the emotions surrounding tonight’s match], I’m not going to lie,” White said. “I try not to let the emotions get to me and just focus on the volleyball.”

The win will send Penn State to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the 17th consecutive season. They’ll head west to Stanford, Calif., to take on the winner of No. 6 Pitt and Cincinnati.

Player Of The Match

Jonni Parker | Outside Hitter

Parker recorded a match-high 19 kills and set a new season-high. The first-team All-Big Ten outside hitter also added three total blocks, five digs, and two service aces.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will rest up and head west to Stanford, Calif. to take part in the NCAA Tournament’s regional rounds. They’ll match up against the winner of No. 6 Pitt and Cincinnati in Stanford next weekend.

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