Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The eighth-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team defeating No. 9 Illinois, 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-18), Saturday night in front of 3,563 Nittany Lions faithful. The victory improved Penn State to 13-3 in conference play and pushed the Nittany Lions into a tie for first place in the conference standings with Illinois.

Tonight's victory also improved Penn State's home match winning streak to 88 consecutive matches. The Nittany Lions surpassed their previous record of 87 consecutive home matches, which lasted from Nov. 25, 1995 to Sept. 29, 2000. Penn State's current streak of 88, which began on Sept. 1, 2006, ranks second in NCAA records, behind only Nebraska's streak of 90 straight matches.

Three Nittany Lions posted double-digit kills against the Illini, led by senior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) who had 13. Freshman Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) was second on the team with 12 on .600 hitting and freshman Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) had 10. Sophomore Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) dished out 37 assists, while freshman Ali Longo (Littleton, Colo.) had a personal-best and match-high 12 digs. Senior Cathy Quilico (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) finished second on the team with 10 digs. Senior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) had five total blocks, as did Scott, which was a career-high.

Penn State hit .324 against Illinois, while the Illini were held to .112. The Nittany Lions totaled 45 kills, four aces, 53 digs and 8.5 total team blocks. Illinois posted 33 kills, two aces, 43 digs and 4.0 team blocks.

The first set was close from the start with the score tying three times before Illinois took a 9-7 lead. The Illini held onto the two-point edge until a 4-0 PSU run had Penn State up by two, 13-11. An Illini timeout failed to slow Penn State as the Lions used kills from Brown and Balza and two Illinois errors to increase their lead to five, 17-12. Illinois used its second timeout, but Penn State continued to roll with three straight points for a 20-12 advantage. A kill by Illinois' Erin Johnson sparked a 4-0 Illini run to cut the gap in half to four, 20-16. Penn State called a timeout and Scott increased PSU's lead to five with a kill, 21-16. Two more kills by Scott and two Illinois errors secured set one for Penn State, 25-18.

The Nittany Lions leapt out to a 7-3 lead in set two and sent the Illini to the bench for an early timeout. A PSU error and a kill by Jazmine Orozco brought the Illini without two, 7-5, but kills by Scott and senior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) had the NIttany Lions up by four, 9-5. The Nittany Lions maintained at least a three-point lead until three straight kills by Brown had PSU leading 14-9. After a second Illinois timeout, the Illini fought to within two, 14-12. However, Penn State answered with a 4-0 run for an 18-12 lead. The Illini put down two kills to cut off the Penn State run, but the Nittany Lions closed out the set with a 7-2 run for a 25-16 second set win. The Illini had four errors to aid the PSU run.

Penn State wasted no time taking the lead in the third and final frame. Penn State had an 8-4 lead when Illinois called its first timeout. Johnson tallied a kill after the break for the Illini, but four straight Penn State kills and a Quilico ace had Penn State leading by eight, 13-5. The Illini used their second timeout, but it didn't faze the Lions whose lead grew to nine, 15-6, with kills from Brown and McClendon. Kills by Illinois' Michelle Bartsch and Johannah Bangert helped the Illini come within four of the Nittany Lions, 17-13, before two PSU errors had the Illini within three, 18-15. Two consecutive PSU kills increased Penn State's lead to five, 20-15. Kills by Wilson and McClendon and two Illini errors put Penn State in set-point position. Carpenter closed out the set and the match for Penn State with a service ace.