It was a weekend of highs and lows for the No. 2 Nittany Lions (11-1, 1-1) who hosted No. 14 Nebraska and Iowa this past weekend in the squad’s Big Ten openers.
On Friday, in front of a crowd of 3,800 at Rec Hall, the Lions welcomed formerly No.1 Nebraska to the court. Nebraska gave the Lions trouble last year, and were ultimately the reason the Lions were bounced from a national championship bid.
The Lions struggled against the Cornhuskers and fell in three sets: 26-24, 25-19, 25-20.
Despite the set losses, the Lions still showed a strong effort, especially by Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wis.).
Lee posted a team-high 15 kills and 13 digs. Ali Frantti (Spring Grove, Ill.) and Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colo.) continued to be forces on the court, with Frantti adding nine kills and seven digs and Washington contributing six kills and two digs.
Head Coach Russ Rose took responsibility for the loss, saying he should have prepared his team better this week.
“Obviously I didn’t do a very good job of preparing the team to play,” said Rose. “I’m very disappointed in our effort. I thought the crowd was better than the team tonight, and I apologize for that.”
Rose noted that tactically, the team could have been better, but that there are plenty of opportunities left for success in Big Ten play.
“I don’t think we coached very well,” noted Rose. “I thought we had a good game plan, but we didn’t execute at all, but it’s a long season and there’s still 19 more Big Ten matches.”
Luckily, Penn State was able to make a comeback the very next night against Iowa in front of a crowd of just over 2500 spectators at Rec Hall.
The Lions overtook the Hawkeyes in four sets: 25-13, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17.
Lee wowed her team and the crowd by clinching 22 kills and 10 digs. Frantti continued to impress with 10 digs and seven kills.
Defensive specialist Kendall White (Indianapolis, Ind.) came in clutch with 12 digs, too.
The Lions will return to Rec Hall this weekend to host Illinois and Northwestern in another bout of Big Ten play. Come out to Rec Hall this Friday at 7:30 p.m. to cheer on your Lions!