Oct. 20, 2013
No. 4 Penn State 3, Northwestern 0
Welsh-Ryan Arena Evanston, Ill. Attendance: 2,206
Box Score | Box Score
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern battled valiantly to try and secure its fourth-straight win Sunday afternoon, but the fourth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions denied the Wildcats with a straight-set victory (25-17, 25-15, 25-17) Sunday in front of more than 2,200 enthusiastic fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus led all players with 13 kills in the match, but the Wildcats were generally stifled on the attack as they accumulated 21 hitting errors in the contest. On the other side of the net, No. 4 Penn State had only seven miscues as it hit .385 for the match.
"This was a great environment to play in," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Penn State played as well as I've seen them play all year and they showed why they are among the top teams in the country right now.
"The bottom line is that we didn't serve and pass well enough and that's always the name of the game in this league," added Chan. "We'll get right back in the gym and prepare for another difficult test when we face our instate rivals back here on Wednesday night."
The Wildcats hung tough with the Nittany Lions in the first set. Holthus started the day's scoring off with a kill that led to a back-and-forth battle as play continued. The score was knotted at six points apiece following a kill from Kayla Morin, but PSU answered with a strike from Nia Grant that sparked a 6-3 run and put Northwestern in the rearview mirror for good. Northwestern dropped the opening set, 25-17.
Holthus carried the scoring load for the Wildcats in the first frame as she buried seven kills on 10 swings. The 2012 All-America honoree was also stout defensively as she recorded three of NU's seven digs in the first stanza.
Penn State appeared to be in control from the onset in the second set. The visitors pushed out to an early 9-4 advantage before Chan whistled for a timeout. The nation's fourth-ranked squad pressed on after the stoppage and eventually extended its cushion to 11 points at 18-7. Northwestern would not go quietly as it soon sliced its deficit to seven points on another termination from Morin. Penn State called a timeout and got a pair of attacking errors and a service ace to close out the stanza, 25-15.
In a furious attempt to extend the match, the 'Cats played some of their best volleyball of the afternoon in the third set. Penn State rushed out to a 6-1 start, but NU quickly countered with its own 6-1 run to even things up at 7-7. Northwestern found itself down by a pair, 15-13, after a serving error on Penn State and an ace by its own Monica McGreal, but a quick 5-2 run created more breathing room for the visitors. Penn State closed out the third set, 25-17, to pick up its seventh Big Ten victory of the year.
NU libero Caroline Niedospial led all players with 10 digs Sunday, while Holthus finished with seven for the home team. Morin finished with nine kills and six digs for the Wildcats.
Northwestern, which dropped only its second match of the season at home Sunday, will have the opportunity to build the foundation for a new streak on Wednesday, Oct. 23 when the instate rivals from Champaign make the trek to Evanston for a midweek match. The first serve between the 'Cats and Illinois is slated for 7 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
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