Oct. 2, 2009
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University Park, PA – The University of Iowa volleyball team lost to top-ranked Penn State, 3-1, Friday night at Rec Hall. Iowa dropped the match in four sets (25-16, 25-10, 24-26, 25-18). The Hawkeyes fell to 1-2 in conference play, 9-6 overall. Penn State improved to 15-0 overall, 3-0 in the Big Ten. Iowa’s 26-24 victory in the third set marked the first time this season the two-time defending NCAA Champion Nittany Lions have lost a set. Penn State had previously won 141 consecutive regular season sets, dating back to Nov. 24, 2007.
“We stayed true to ourselves in this contest,” said Head Coach Sharon Dingman. “We know we can’t play Penn State’s style of volleyball, so I reminded our team to play within ourselves and use our strengths. We put them in a position to make errors. I thought Mara did a great job of leading the offense and the middles came to play. Overall it was pretty good execution by the Hawkeyes.”
The Hawkeyes dropped the opening set of the contest, 25-16. Schipper and freshman Emma Kreiger Kittle led the Hawkeyes with three kills apiece. Meister picked up four digs and Hilgenberg dished nine assists.
Iowa started the match strong, recording a kill and an ace from Schipper to establish an early 3-1 lead. Penn State then rallied with three straight points to take a one-point edge, but Schipper and junior Aimee Huffman attacked with a kill each to eventually tie the set, 5-5. Kreiger Kittle sparked a late Hawkeye run with three kills to keep Iowa within five points, 21-16, but the Nittany Lions closed the match with four-straight points to take a 1-0 match lead.
Penn State took a 2-0 match advantage with a win in set two. Schipper picked up four kills to lead the Hawkeyes. Hillgenberg added six assists. Five different Hawkeyes recorded a dig in the contest.
Penn State started the second set in familiar fashion, building a 10-5 lead over the Hawkeyes. Schipper picked up two kills and junior Becky Walters added a block in the early going. After the Nittany Lions stretched the lead to seven, junior Aimee Huffman picked up a kill to pull Iowa within six, 14-8. Penn State then used a 7-0 run to take 21-8 lead. Walters ended the rally with a kill to make the score 21-9 before the Nittany Lions closed the set with a 4-1 run. Sophomore Mallory Husz picked up the Hawkeyes final point with her first kill of the match.
Iowa bounced back from intermission to win set three, 26-24. Junior Katie Kennedy, Schipper and Husz led the offense with three kills apiece. Hilgenberg dished nine assists and Meister picked up four of Iowa’s 11 digs in the set. The Hawkeyes picked up four total blocks in the winning effort, including three block assists from Husz.
The Hawkeyes battled strong in the third set behind an improved offense. Husz and Kreiger Kittle attacked with back-to-back kills to tie set, 8-8. After Penn State built a 17-14 edge, Iowa used a 5-2 run to tie the match, 19-19. Two PSU errors, a pair of kills from Kennedy and Kreiger Kittle and a block from Husz sparked the Hawkeye rally. Penn State rallied from a time out to take a 21-19 lead before Iowa used a couple Nittany Lions errors to tie the set, 21-21. The Hawkeyes then battled to a 23-23 tie before Penn State recorded a kill to set up a serve for match point. Following a PSU error, Husz recorded a kill to set up set-point for the Hawkeyes. Huffman served to the middle of court and the Nittany Lions’ attack sailed long to give Iowa the 26-24 set win, the first set win by a PSU opponent this season.
Iowa rode its third-set momentum into a highly-contested fourth set. Back-to-back kills from Schipper and Kreiger Kittle gave the Hawkeyes an early 5-4 edge. Penn State rallied to take an 11-8 advantage before the Hawkeyes battled behind three Huffman kills to pull within one, 14-13. Husz and Huffman added a kill each to eventually pull Iowa within four, 21-17, but Penn State finished the set strong and prevailed with a 25-18 set victory.
The Hawkeyes continue conference play tomorrow (Oct. 3) at Ohio State. The Buckeyes host the Hawkeyes at 6 p.m. in Columbus, OH. Iowa volleyball play-by-play announcer Mike Haberle will call the action live from St. John Arena on KXIC (AM 800).