Penn State was able to win in convincing fashion over Northwestern in a bounce-back performance on Saturday night.
The Nittany Lions moved to 12-4 on the year behind a four-set victory while Northwestern fell to 7-10 on the year.
Penn State won the first set 25-21 behind the superb play of right-side hitter and setter senior Jonni Parker.
The first set looked over when Penn State led 23-16 late but Northwestern fought back, winning the next five points to make things interesting.
Despite Northwestern’s run, the blue and white closed things out, winning the next two points to take the first set.
Penn State got out to a hot start in the second set as they led 7-1 over the Wildcats.
Northwestern didn’t roll over, however, winning the next three points over the blue and white to bring the score to 7-4.
The Nittany Lions were able to keep the Wildcats at bay for the rest of the set and looked dominant in a 5-0 run during the set.
Penn State won the second set 25-18 behind the outstanding play of senior setter Gabby Blossom who recorded the set-winning serve for Penn State.
The third set started off with some back-and-forth between the teams as Northwestern got out to an early 3-2 lead.
In the very next point, Penn State challenged the initial call on the court that Northwestern had won the point and the challenge was successful. As a result, Penn State tied it up at three.
Northwestern would go on to win seven of the next eight points, bringing the score to 10-4.
Towards the end of the third set, Northwestern called a timeout to help kill some of Penn State’s momentum after the blue and white put a major dent in the Wildcats’ comfortable and consistent lead.
Northwestern would eventually walk away with a third set win, with a final tally of 25-23.
The white and purple’s two timeouts in the fourth set were not enough to stifle a rolling Penn State attack that took a commanding 14-9 lead.
Penn State won the fourth set 25-19 to capture victory in four sets over the Wildcats.
Here are some takeaways from Penn State’s win over Northwestern.
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Standout for Northwestern
One player who made an obvious impact offensively for Northwestern was junior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara.
Her power both serving and spiking the ball was felt throughout the night at Rec Hall.
The six-foot-two junior came in with the most total kills in the Big Ten with 244 on the year.
While her 3.64 per-set average was only good enough for tenth in the conference, it is clear that Thomas-Ailara is one of the best spike-artists in the Big Ten.
Dropped third set
Penn State was unable to capture what would’ve been its first straight-set victory since Sept. 26 against Ohio State.
The Wildcats dominated most of the third until the end when Penn State tied it up at 22 apiece and then again at 23.
Northwestern was able to hold on, though, winning the next two points to cut Penn State’s lead in half. Thomas-Ailara recorded the set-winner for the Wildcats in the third.
Pair of seniors show out
Parker and Blossom were vital to Penn State’s victory Saturday.
In the first two sets especially, the pair of seniors were consistently the top-two names said by the announcer in Rec Hall when Penn State won a point.
Parker, a three-time AVCA All-American, seemed to dominate the first set while Blossom, a one-time All-American, contributed quite often in the second.
Parker leads Penn State in points and points per set in 2021 while Blossom ranks seventh and tenth respectively.
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