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PSU women’s volleyball team tops Illinois

Photos by Jeff Shomo

Courtesy of GoPSU Athletics
It was more difficult than the season opener, but the No. 9 Penn State women’s volleyball team picked up another win Saturday, beating Illinois 3-2 (25-16, 27-29, 26-28, 25-15, 15-8) to improve to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten.

Penn State totaled 13 blocks as a team, led by nine from Kaitlyn Hord and seven from Jonni Parker. The duo had those numbers through four sets. Serena Gray had four total blocks, including two solo.

Annie Cate Fitzpatrick got the job done offensively for the Lions, finishing with a double-double of 17 kills and 17 digs. That came just one night after she missed a double-double by one dig in a four-set win over the Illini. Hord had a big night, adding 11 kills on .556 hitting to her impressive block total.

Joining Fitzpatrick and Hord with double-digit kills were Parker with 12 and Anastasiya Kudryashova with 11. Parker added 12 digs for her first double-double of the season.

Penn State came up short in two close sets but the three it won were won handily. Both sets they lost were by two points, while the three they won were won by an average of more than eight points.

Trailing two sets to one, the Lions never faced any real danger of losing set four. They broke a 9-9 tie with a 5-0 run that included two kills by Parker and one apiece by Hord and Kudryashova. Illinois would only get as close as four the rest of the set.

Penn State carried that momentum into the fifth set. The Lions jumped out to an 8-2 lead, including a stretch of five-straight points with freshman libero Maddy Bilinovic at the service line. They closed the match with a 5-0 run, clinching the victory with an ace by sophomore setter Emily Oerther.

Making her second career start, Oerther gave Penn State three players with double-doubles in the match, finishing with 46 assists and 12 digs. She had two of the team’s nine aces.

Gray was the best server in what was an inconsistent night for the Lions at the service line. She tallied four aces.

Illinois, which dropped to 2-4 overall and 2-4 in the Big Ten, was led by Megan Cooney with 16 kills, 12 digs and two aces. Diana Brown had a double-double with 24 assists and 10 digs.

Up next for Penn State is a marquee matchup with No. 6 Minnesota. The Lions and Gophers tied for second in the Big Ten last season. 

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