UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 9 Penn State women's volleyball team wore its heart on its' sleeve on as the Nittany Lions came from behind to take a five-set victory, 3-2: 25-22, 11-25, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, over No. 5 Nebraska in front of a raucous Rec Hall crowd on Saturday evening.
For the first time in the career of every single Nittany Lion on the 2018 roster, Penn State got the best of the Huskers. The last time Penn State has taken a match from the Big Ten foe was on November 29, 2014, during Nia Reed and Bryanna Weiskircher's redshirt season.
Both teams looked flustered to open the match. Penn State held Nebraska to just eight kills, hitting .081, while the Nittany Lions put down 17 kills, but hit just .152. Redshirt junior Tori Gorrell shined in the opener, going 4-0-4 in the set. Another bright spot in the opening set was junior Kendall White. The Nittany Lion libero scooped up an impressive 13 digs. Penn State outlasted the Huskers to take the first set, 25-22.
In the second set, Nebraska regained its composure and went perfect in serve receive, siding out all eleven times on the first serve in the rotation. They put down 14 kills, and help Penn State to their lowest set score of the season, 25-11, to even the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the two team battled on the attack. Penn State committed just one error in the third set, going 18-1-41 for a team hitting percentage of .415. Reed led the way in the third set, putting down seven kills, while freshman Serena Gray put down four kills. The Nittany Lions out-dug the Huskers in the third set, 18-15, but Nebraska was able to tally 21 kills, and combined with the Nittany Lions five total errors in the set, three service, one hitting and one reception, the Huskers jumped out to a 2-1 set lead with a 26-24 set win.
With its back against the wall, Penn State needed to find a way. Although it wasn't pretty, the Nittany Lions showed grit and determination. Hitting just .023 for the set, Penn State needed to find another way to score. Insert White. The junior libero dished out three aces in the fourth set that helped propel the Nittany Lions. Penn State also tallied 6.0 blocks in the fourth set, and held Nebraska to just .070 on the attack. Penn State was down 20-17, when junior Emily Sciorra went on a service run that brought Penn State even at 20-all before the Huskers would get a kill to again take the advantage. A Husker hitting error and a key White ace gave the Nittany Lions' their first lead since 12-10. Penn State would hang on to take the set, 25-23, to even the match at 2-all.
In the fifth and deciding set, Penn State never trailed. Reed opened the set up with a big kill, and from there the Nittany Lions rode her back. In 13 attempts in the shortened set, Reed hammered home five timely kills. Penn State sided out at an 88-percent, going 8-9 on the reception attempts. The Nittany Lions also were able to hold the Huskers to just .071 hitting, to take the set and the match with a 15-9 win.
Junior libero Kendall White was a fireball of energy for the Nittany Lions in the back court as she commanded the defense with a match-high 25 digs, adding a season-high three aces, all coming in the crucial fourth set win.
Redshirt senior Bryanna Weiskircher finished with her fifth double-double in conference play, including her second-straight, as she dished out 48 assists and added a tied season-high 16 digs. She also added three kills, three blocks, and the game-winning ace.
Redshirt senior Nia Reed finished with a career-high 20 kills, and was the first Nittany Lion to surpass the 20-kill mark since Nov. 25, 2017. She added three blocks and four digs.
Graduate student Taylor Leath added her third double-double of the season as she finished the match with 10 kills and a Penn State career-best 15 digs, adding two assists.
Redshirt junior Tori Gorrell tallied four blocks on the evening, surpassing the 250 career mark, and is now at 253. She also added nine kills, hitting a team-high .467.
Freshman Serena Gray tallied eight kills, adding a team-high six blocks and also added three digs. Fellow freshman Jonni Parker added eight kills and seven digs, and chipped in four blocks.
Penn State saw key production off the bench as junior Emily Sciorra and senior Bayleigh Hoffman both added two digs and went on key service runs throughout the match. Penn State also got seven digs from both freshmen Jenna Hampton and Gabby Blossom in defensive specialist roles.
On the evening, Nebraska led in every statistical category, except digs, where Penn State scooped up 89 to the Huskers' 87.
Penn State returns to the floor on Wednesday, October 17 for a 7 p.m. match against Rutgers that will be on the Big Ten Network.