In the blink of an eye, it was tied.
After leading for a majority of the second set, Nebraska had rallied to knot the set up at 22-22. Penn State was on the verge of possibly going down two sets to none and something had to change.
Then it did.
After swapping points back and forth, the set remained tied at 25-25 and then again at 26-26. It was time to make a play and that’s exactly what junior right side Ariel Scott did.
Scott drilled a ball on the backline giving the Lions a 27-26 lead. Then, on the next play, outside hitters Deja McClendon and Nia Grant combined for a block and the Lions won the set 28-26.
It was on, and the Lions had gained control of the match.
“It was really important for us after losing the first set,” Scott said. “We knew to make it easier on ourselves, we had to win the second set going into the break. We were really excited we had the momentum after the break between games two and three, so it was really good for us.”
That momentum from the second set carried over to the third and the No. 4 Lions (11-1, 1-0 Big Ten) never looked back from there. They went on to trample the No. 3 Huskers 25-17 in the third set and won 26-24 in the fourth to win the match 3-1.
McClendon and Scott helped to the fuel the Lions’ victory. The duo combined to have 39 kills, 17 digs and two service aces, while helping to give the Lions a win in the Big Ten conference opener.
McClendon finished with her fifth double-double of the season and the sixteenth of her career. Her counter partner Scott finished with 23 kills and was four away from tying her career high.
“I thought that A. Scott did a good job with an incredibly large number of swings that she had,” coach Russ Rose said.
The Lions struggled a bit in the beginning of the fourth set as they dug themselves into a 9-1 hole. However, the team managed to square things up and rallied back. Junior outside hitter Maddie Martin had a big fourth set for the Lions. All of her five kills came in the set and so did three of her four digs.
“I came in the first game and I didn’t do my job,” Martin said. “So when I got the second chance, I took advantage of my opportunity and I was just trying to help out the team.”
Martin capped off her performance with a service ace and secured the win for the Lions.
“It was a good feeling,” Martin said. “It’s a good feeling to win period.
Rose added that Martin is one of the better servers that the team has, despite the Lions not serving as well as the coach would have liked.
The Lions will now use the next two days to prepare for Iowa on Saturday night at 8 at Rec Hall. It will be their last home match until mid-October when the squad welcomes Purdue and Indiana to Happy Valley.