Penn State’s best was not enough to propel it past Texas in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions came out hungry, winning the first set, but they could not overcome the Longhorns as they lost 3-1 Sunday night.
Texas got a jumpstart on the blue and white in the first set, but the Nittany Lions kept the score tight.
In its second match in NCAA Tournament play, Penn State lost to Texas in four sets as the Longhorns ended the blue and white’s season.
With the first set sitting at 22-21 in favor of the Longhorns in the first set, the line judge ruled a ball hit by junior right side hitter Jonni Parker out of bounds to give Texas another point.
However, this play was challenged by coach Russ Rose, and the call was reversed, resulting in a point for the blue and white that tied the first frame at 22 points apiece.
Parker guided the blue and white through the first set, hitting .571 with nine kills as Penn State took the first set 25-23.
Texas got a lead again early in the second set, but this time the Nittany Lions were unable to come from behind.
After several service errors from the blue and white, the close set started to slip away in the Longhorns’ favor.
Texas recorded four consecutive points en route to taking the second set 25-18.
Penn State kept up the intensity through the third frame, never letting Texas get ahead by more than two points.
After a long back-and-forth rally, Texas won the battle 30-28.
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With the Longhorns one set away from winning, they got an early lead but once again, Penn State didn't let them get far.
However, the early advantage provided Texas a cushion from which it would not look back as it took the fourth and final frame 25-17.
Here are some takeaways from the blue and white’s season-ending loss.
Parker on fire
Parker led the Nittany Lions’ offense the entire match in Sunday’s affair with 20 kills.
But Parker’s contributions were not limited to the blue and white’s offense; she also chipped in on defense with four blocks and 12 digs.
Parker finished the night with 22 points in what was another stellar performance for the junior right side hitter.
Errors foil blue and white’s upset bit
The Nittany Lions gave away seven points due to service errors.
In a match with the significance of potentially keeping the Nittany Lions alive in the NCAA Tournament, the blue and white’s miscues were too much to overcome.
With as close as the scores in each set were, these errors could have been the difference between a win and a loss for Penn State.
Keeping it close
Considering Texas is the No. 4 seeded team in the tournament and Penn State is No. 13, the Nittany Lions’ ability to keep each set close was an impressive display of fortitude.
The blue and white came out of the gate with ample energy, which seemed to be lacking from the Longhorns’ side.
In the third set, the score differential was never greater than two points.
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