Oct. 11, 2009

Courtesy of Penn State

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team remained the only unbeaten team in the Big Ten with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25- ) victory against No. 5 Minnesota Sunday afternoon. Penn State's NCAA-record winning streak improved to 82 consecutive matches.

Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led the team with 21 kills and junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) was second on the team with 13 kills. Junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) finished first on the squad with four total blocks, while junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) Brown both has three apiece. Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished our 46 assists and totaled 11 digs. Junior Cathy Quilico led the team with 14 digs, while junior libero Alyssa D'Errico posted 13.

The Nittany Lions attacked a .328 clip with a total of 56 kills. The squad also registered 64 digs and 7.0 total team blocks. While Minnesota tied Penn State in blocks, they tallied just 37 kills and 49 digs.

The Gophers took a 6-2 lead early in the first set with Hodge tallying Penn State's first two points. The Nittany Lions continued to trail Minnesota until Glass recorded an ace for a 9-9 tie. Minnesota managed to grab a two-point edge, 11-9, on a kill by Ariana Filho and a PSU error. The Nittany Lions answered back with kills from freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) and Hodge to tie the set at 11-11. Soon after, Penn State grabbed its first lead of the set with another Hodge kill. Neither team was able to develop any momentum and break away and Minnesota had only a one-point lead, 20-19, when the Lions took a timeout. Following the timeout, Minnesota's Taylor Carico tallied a kill for a 21-19 edge. However, kills by Brown and Wilson tied it up once again at 21-21. Brook Dieter gave the Gophers the lead with a kill, but Wilson and Hodge joined forces for a block and the Gophers recorded an error to put PSU ahead, 23-22. The Gophers tied the set at 23-23 and again at 24-24, but PSU secured a 26-24 first set win with one kill each by Brown and Wilson.
The second set proved to be much like the first with several ties and lead changes as neither team could find any sort of rhythm to gain a substantial lead. The Nittany Lions managed to get ahead by two, 10-8, after back-to-back kills by Brown and a solo block by Balza. The Gophers weren't deterred and were soon ahead by one, 12-11, thanks to two kills and a Penn State error. The two squads went back and forth until Megan Wilson and Dieter put the Gophers up by two, 18-16. The advantage was shortlived as Hodge notched a kill and D'Errico served an ace to tie the set, 18-18. The score tied again at 19-19 and a kill from Lauren Gibbemeyer sent Penn State to the bench for a timeout. Following the timeout, two Hodge kills and one from Dorton put the Nittany Lions in the lead, 22-21. In hopes of slowing Penn State, Minnesota called a timeout. However, Balza and Glass blocked an attack by Dieter to send the Gophers back to the bench. A kill by Hodge and a Gopher error secured set two for Penn State 25-21.

A kill from Brown and block by Dorton and Balza gave the Nittany Lions an early 2-0 lead in the third set. A Filho kill and a Gibbemeyer block had the teams tied at 2-2 moments later. From there, the two teams traded points until Wilson and Brown each tallied a kill and D'Errico an ace to give Penn State some breathing room, 8-5. Two PSU errors brought the Gophers with one, 8-7, but three straight kills by the Lions moved the Lions ahead by four, 11-7. Despite a kill from Love, Minnesota was soon trailing by seven as Wilson, Hodge and Glass each registered a kill and a Love attack was denied by a Glass/Wilson block. The Nittany Lions lead grew to double-digits, 20-10, and the Gophers tallied just four more points before Penn State closed out the third set, 25-14 for the match win.

The Nittany Lions finish up their four-match road trip with trips to No. 8 Michigan and No. 18 Michigan State on Oct. 16-17. Penn State faces the Wolverines on Friday at 7 p.m. with its match with the Spartans following on Saturday at 7 p.m.