WVB vs UMBC, Cathey (22)

Outside hitter Allyson Cathey (22) spikes the ball over the net during the game against UMBC at Rec Hall on Saturday August 25, 2018. The Nittany Lions sweep the Retrievers 3 sets to 0.

Eventually Russ Rose was going to have to think about how to replace All-Americans and Penn State volleyball legends Haleigh Washington and Simone Lee.

So it helped that Rose went out and got the nation's top-ranked recruiting class.

But early into the young season, there were questions as to how many of the highly acclaimed freshmen would perform in big game situations for one of the nation's most storied volleyball programs.

Through Penn State's first four games the Nittany Lions are 4-0 after beating Temple in a back-and-forth straight set victory on Friday night.

That might not have been the case if it weren't for one of those highly touted freshmen — outside hitter Allyson Cathey.

"I thought Allyson came in in the third game and had great energy," Rose said.

Cathey only played the third set for the Nittany Lions, but it was her late game heroics that sealed the Nittany Lions' fate.

Penn State was down 19-13 late in the third and was on the wrong side of 6-0 run, which at that stage in the match would've likely swiftly turned the tides for the Owls and given them the momentum to take the third set with how Penn State was playing up to that point.

Enter Allyson Cathey.

Despite being down six, the Nittany Lions were able to cut the Owls' lead to just three and Cathey delivered her first of three third set kills to put Penn State back within striking distance.

Her first kill made it 19-17 Temple and she followed that up with a big late game block that originally went Penn State's way and made it 20-18.

Temple then successfully challenged the play and that the ball was down and the point was replayed.

"The replay thing is puzzling. You have the replay where they call a play but the player said she didn't touch it," Rose said. "I asked 'Did you see the touch' and they said they didn't so I asked if they couldn't see it, why was there a touch."

Though Rose may not have agreed with the call following the replay and though it may have had the potential to throw Penn State off of its rhythm, Cathey was able to stay composed.

After that, Cathey knew she'd have to step up.

"My biggest thought was just to bring energy and heart to the floor," Cathey said. "I knew coming in that I was going to have to contribute in a big way so getting on the floor I was making sure I was hustling every play."

The New Albany, Indiana native did indeed answer the call and came back after the replay of the previous point to make it 20-19 in favor of Temple.

It likely would've been easy for Cathey to buckle under the late match pressure, but instead, she found her composure one final time and was able to record her third and final kill to give Penn State match point at 24-22 before the Nittany Lions came back and won the third 25-22.

"I think the team has taught me a lot about being chill and relaxed and if I make a bad play to move on to the next one and to keep contributing."

Her combination of energy, skill, composure and knack for late game heroics once again endeared her to Rose, her teammates and Penn State fans alike.

Rose even admitted that he will likely have to figure out a lineup that gets her back on the court.

"Allyson plays really hard and is a great net player," Rose said. "She's not afraid to take a big swing and there's certainly good reason to get here back on the floor.

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