The No. 8 Penn State women's volleyball team (11-5, 4-2 Big Ten) lost a dramatic but ultimately disappointing five-set match to undefeated No. 1 Illinois Saturday night (21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12) at Rec Hall.
Despite winning the first and third sets to take a 2-1 lead in the match, the Nittany Lions dropped the last two sets to lose the match.
Coach Russ Rose said he was disappointed by the outcome and by some of the Nittany Lions' errors.
"It was an interesting match," Rose said. "I thought we had some opportunities."
In the last set to 15, the Lions tied the score at 11 but made errors on four of the next five points to lose the set and the match.
Sophomore Ariel Scott credited a large Rec Hall crowd of over 5,000 with helping to provide energy to the team, but even the support of the fans wasn't enough.
There were some positives to take from the match, though. Freshman Dominique Gonzalez earned some of her first significant playing time and recorded a career-high 14 digs. Junior libero Ali Longo also set a career-high in digs, with 24.
Freshman setter Micha Hancock's fast-paced serve was a threat all match long, and Hancock improved her consistency in that aspect. She scored a career-high seven aces without any serving errors. The Lions nine total aces tied for second-most in the rally-scoring era in five set matches.
Sophomore outside hitter Ariel Scott carried much of the offensive load for the Lions, with 74 attacks, a career-high for her. With those attacks, Scott kept Penn State in the match with a career-high 27 kills.
However, despite the record-setting night, the Lions were disappointed to walk out without a win. The team's 39 hitting errors eventually sank Penn State against the more efficient Illini.