Nov. 4, 2011
Penn State, 3, Minnesota 2
Trailing 2-0, the No. 15 University of Minnesota volleyball fell to Penn State in five sets on Friday night at the Sports Pavilion (25-27, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 12-15). The loss drops the Gophers overall record to 13-9 and 6-7 in the Big Ten. Although the Gophers were outblocked 17.5-0, Minnesota led the dig category, 83-68 and in aces, 8-7 (five errors by Minnesota, 13 by Penn State).
Ashley Wittman held a career-high 31 kills, including 12 kills in the fourth set. Wittman also hit .393 and had 19 digs to provide her 13th double double of the season. Tori Dixon hit .400 and had 11 kills, while Katherine Harms also had double-digit kills with 10. Hailey Cowles had a season-best three aces and also had 16 digs. Kellie McNeil had a career-high 61 assists, while Jessica Granquist had a match-high 24 digs.
Minnesota fell in the first set, 27-25. PSU held a 19-15, but the Gophers battled back, led by Dixon, who had three-straight kills to the right, tying the set at 19. The Nittany Lions took a timeout to stop the Gopher run and had kills from Deja McClendon and Micha Hancock to go up 23-19. As Penn State was at set point, Minnesota battled back again with a kill from McNeil, an attack error by PSU and two aces from Dixon tied up the set at 24. Ariel Scott had a kill to go up one before Wittman responded with a kill. Another kill by Scott and a block from Scott and Nia Grant closed out the first set at 27-25.
Although Cowles delivered an ace in the first point of the second set, Penn State came out and took control for a 25-17 win. PSU went on a 9-3 run in the middle of the second set for the 25-17 final.
Minnesota rallied back out of the break and took the third set 25-23. Minnesota jumped out to a 13-9 lead and then went on a 5-1 run, going up, 18-12. After a timeout by Penn State at 19-16, Cowles added a kill to put it at 20-16. PSU, however battled back and pulled the set within one at 23-22. After a kill by Wittman, a kill by Scott at 24-23, Minnesota closed out the set with a kill from Cowles at 25-23.
Minnesota forced set five when it won the fourth set, 25-23. Coming back from a 14-10 deficit, Minnesota climbed back into the match, including back-to-back kills by Wittman. After an attack error by PSU put the set at 15-15, Wittman put the Gophers up, 16-15. However, PSU wasn't done and tied the set at 20-20 when Hancock had an ace. After a kill by Wittman and an attack error by PSU, the Gophers jumped up to a 22-20 lead, forcing PSU to take a timeout. After both teams responded with a kill, Wittman added two straight kills to go up, 24-21. Penn State added back-to-back kills from Scott and Aiyana Whitney to close it within one, but a Wittman kill off the shoulder of a PSU player helped the Gophers to a set win and forced a fifth.
After Penn State jumped out to an 8-5 lead in the fifth, Minnesota responded when it came back and tied the set at 8-8 with a kill by Harms, an attack error by Hancock and a kill by Briana Haugen. Minnesota took a short lead when Ariana Filho had an ace. After a kill by Scott and McClendon, Dixon tied the set at 10 and Cowles helped the Gophers go up, 11-10 with a kill. However, PSU had an ace from Grant, a kill by McClendon to go up, 13-11. After a kill by Dixon, Minnesota had a service error before PSU's Katie Slay added a kill on the overpass to end the match.
Minnesota will look to rebound against No. 22 Ohio State tomorrow night. The match starts at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.