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    Wildcat Volleyball Nearly Upsets No. 1 Penn State

    21 kills for Burbach, 16 kills for Holloway

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Top-ranked Penn State got a big scare this afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena, needing five games to knock off the Wildcats, 15-3, 15-11, 7-15, 13-15, 16-14. It marked the first time all season that the Nittany Lions have been forced to play five games. Penn State improves to 19-0 overall, 8-0 Big Ten. Northwestern falls to 11-8 overall, 2-6 Big Ten.

    Carmen Burbach
    Carmen Burbach

    PSU took an early two-game lead over the Wildcats, including a dominating performance in game one that saw the Nittany Lions connect on 13 kills and not committing a hitting error. NU battled back in game two, setting the tone for the next two games.

    The Wildcats came out hot in game three, and stayed that way. NU hit .324 for game three on the strength of 18 kills and five team blocks. Wildcat freshman Carmen Burbach had five kills in six attempts as NU took game three, 15-7. In game four, NU took a 10-5 lead before Penn State worked their way back into the game. The Nittany Lions, down 14-9, rattled off four straight points to close the gap before a kill by NU setter Liz Renius sent the match to game five.

    For most of game five, it looked as if the Wildcats were going to pull the upset. The 'Cats opened the game with three-straight points and led 12-8 before PSU went another run, tying the game at 12-12. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the game at 14-13, finally winning on an ace by Terri Zemaitis.

    NU freshman Carmen Burbach led all players with 21 kills and a game-high .395 hitting percentage. Jessica Holloway had 16 kills and a game-high 15 digs for NU. Zemaitis and Laura Cacciamani paced the Nittany Lions with 15 kills apiece, while Christy Cochran led PSU with 12 digs. Zemaitis also had nine blocks for Penn State, followed by Lindsay Anderson with eight and Cacciamani with seven. Northwestern's Sharon Fisk had eight blocks in the loss, including a game-high two block solos.