#4 PSU Volleyball Downs #11 Minnesota

It's the Nittany Lions 4th straight conference win.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - Behind  career high contributions from a trio of senior standouts, the No. 4 Penn State women’s volleyball team (13-2, 4-1)  rallied to a close 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11) victory against No. 11 Minnesota (15-3, 3-2) Wednesday evening at Rec Hall.
Senior Ariel Scott led the squad with a season-high 25 kills, while senior Katie Slay matched a career-high mark with 16 kills on .444 hitting.  Slay also logged a season-high 10 blocks to bring her career total to 502 total blocks, which ranks eighth on the Penn State all-time list.
Senior Deja McClendon rounded out the group with her fourth double-double of the season (14 kills, 16 digs), totaling four blocks, including two solo blocks. Sophomore Megan Courtney also notched a double-double, registering 10 kills and a career high 22 digs, while also chipping in six blocks. Junior Micha Hancock dished out a career high 67 assists, adding four kills, eight digs and one block.
The triumph also marks head coach Russ Roses’ 1,104th career victory, moving him just two victories away from tying former UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski  for second on the all-time wins list.
Penn State opened the first set on a roll, using an 8-2 run to build an early advantage, capped off by four consecutive kills. Minnesota trimmed the lead back to two, 12-10, but the Nittany Lions responded with a 7-2 streak to go up by as many as seven, 19-12. Following a 4-1 spurt, the Golden Gophers fought within three, 21-18, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Regrouping, Scott and Slay combined for three kills to make it set-point, 24-19, before a Minnesota attacking error secured the first frame, 25-19 in favor of the Nittany Lions. Scott led the attack in the first stanza, posting 10 kills on .600 hitting.   
With the second set tied, 8-8, the Gophers broke away on a 4-0 run to move ahead by four, 13-9. McClendon cut into the lead with a pair of kills, 14-11, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t settle into a rhythm. Trailing by four, Grant sparked a 4-1 stretch, capped off by kills from Courtney, Hancock and McClendon to push Penn State within one, 17-16.
Minnesota connected on the next four straight kills to pull away with a five-point lead, 21-16, before the Nittany Lions embarked on a 5-1 run to move within two, 22-20. As both teams continued to battle, PSU stopped two set-point attempts before an attacking error cost the Lions the set, 25-23, tying the match 1-1.
Trailing for most of the third period, the Nittany Lions used kills from Slay and Scott and a block by Courtney and Slay to crack open an 18-all tie for a two-point lead, 20-18. Erasing the deficit, the Gophers responded with three kills to knot up the frame, 21-21. Breaking away, Penn State rallied with the next four points to seal set three, 25-21.
Down 13-5 in the fourth, Grant pounded a kill to get things going for the Nittany Lions. Minnesota continued to pull ahead though, bolstering the lead to seven, 14-7, before PSU halted the attack with a kill from McClendon an ace by sophomore Kendall Pierce. Narrowing the gap, Penn State used a 4-1 stretch, featuring kills from Scott and Hancock and a solo block from McClendon to come within four, 18-14, forcing Minnesota to call timeout.
After the break, the Golden Gophers tallied two kills to move back up by four, 20-16, before Penn State sliced the lead in half with a block from McClendon and Slay and a kill from Scott. Trailing by two, 22-20, Courtney pounded a kill to pull PSU within one, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t get back on top, handing Minnesota the fourth set, 25-22.
Penn State jumped out to a 6-1 start in the fifth frame, dominated by three kills from Slay, two from McClendon and a pair of blocks from Scott and Slay. Minnesota attempted to stifle the momentum with a kill, but PSU tallied the next two points for an 8-2 lead at the crossover. Minnesota charged back within one, 11-10, but Slay tallied two kills before pairing with Scott for a block to make it match-point, 14-11. The Gophers followed with an error, handing Penn State its fourth straight conference victory.    

--PSU Athletic Communications--

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