Gophers Fall to Penn State in Straight Sets
Sept. 29, 2012
The No. 10 University of Minnesota volleyball program fell to No. 1 Penn State in three sets, 25-23, 25-8, 25-20, tonight at the Sports Pavilion in front of a season-high 5,147 fans. With the loss, the Gophers fall to 12-3 on the season and were handed their first Big Ten Conference loss of the season (3-1). Penn State improved to 14-1 overall and 4-0 in conference action.
The Gophers were led by Katherine Harms, who had a team-high 13 kills and two aces, followed by Tori Dixon with seven kills in 15 attempts. Alexandra Palmer led the team with 12 digs and 26 assists. A balanced attack from PSU, the Nittany Lions had three with nine kills (Ariel Scott, Katie Slay and Deja McClendon), Nia Grant had eight, while Micha Hancock had 35 assists.
After 10 tie scores and three lead changes, Penn State used a 6-1 run to keep the lead and win the set, 25-23. After a Harms kill put the set at 12-12, PSU had back-to-back kills by Megan Courtney, and an ace by Dominque Gonzalez to go up, 15-12. After a kill by Dixon, PSU's Scott had a kill, a PSU block and a kill by Katie Slay put the Lions at 18-13. The Gophers, however, rebounded and brought the set within one on a block from Dixon and Mia Tabberson. Although PSU allowed a service error for the 23rd Gopher point, Slay finished the set with her fourth kill of the set.
Penn State bettered its hitting percentage to .421, while the Gophers held a -.111 clip as the Nittany Lions went up 2-0 on a 25-8 set win. After a 1-1 tie, PSU rolled through the set and went on an 8-2 run early and followed with an 11-1 run for the set win. PSU swept the Gophers with a 25-20 third set and match final. Although Harms had five kills in 10 attempts in the third, the Gophers fell in straight sets for the first conference loss of the season. PSU jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a Gopher attack error and later 16-9 when Scott had a kill. Minnesota, however, would battle back and close the gap to 22-19 on a block by Daly Santana and Dixon, while Harms delivered a service ace at 22-20 to force PSU to take a timeout. The Nittany Lions, however, would have three-set ending kills by Nia Grant to win the set and the match, 3-0.
Minnesota will have a short turnaround this week as it faces Michigan, Wednesday night and Michigan State Saturday night, both at the Sports Pavilion. Wednesday's match will be televised live on Big Ten Network at 7 p.m., while Saturday's tilt is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start against the Spartans.