No. 7 Penn State women’s volleyball lost to No. 8 Wisconsin 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 19-21) in Saturday night’s White Out at Rec Hall.
Madison Duello and Dana Rettke were tremendous all night long for the Badgers, who improved to 22-6 on the season. Nia Reed equaled her career high with 20 kills in the loss, which saw 13 tie scores in a nail-biting fifth set.
Freshman outside hitter Allyson Cathey had 13 kills and Penn State’s middle blockers — Serena Gray and Kaitlyn Hord — finished with six blocks apiece. Gray’s 12 kills set a new career high for the Temple City, California, native.
A night after putting down 29 kills in Penn State’s 3-2 win over No. 3 Minnesota, Jonni Parker struggled to find her rhythm against the Badgers. She had a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs but also posted 13 attack errors for a negative hitting percentage (-.048).
Kendall White paced Penn State’s defense with a match-high 26 digs and two assists. The junior libero set a new season high with 503 digs and is now just 10 away from passing Dominique Gonzalez for fourth place in program history. White currently has 1,465 during her career.
The Nittany Lions (23-7) will find out who their first round opponent will be in the NCAA tournament during Sunday’s selection show at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Coach Rose on the loss:
“It was a really tough match. I’m certainly disappointed in some things I won’t comment on, but I thought we played hard. I thought we had opportunities to win the match. I just thought a couple of the kids had nothing left in the tank after having to play a match last night til 11:30 and having to turn around and go at it again. But I thought we battled hard. Certainly Wisconsin is a very good team and very strong at the outside hitting position.
“It was a match that I thought we had opportunities to have success in. I thought Serena and Nia hit well. I thought Allyson came in and took some good swings for us. I thought a lot of the freshman players didn’t have the same success they’ve had in some other matches, and that’s part of playing in a conference like the Big Ten.”
Nia Reed on whether there were any positive takeaways:
“It’s nice that I had 20 kills, but I don’t think anything we did was positive tonight. We should have won. We had opportunities to win, and they won because of our mistakes.”
Coach Rose on Allyson Cathey’s performance:
“I think Allyson’s got a good arm and I think she’s an enthusiastic young person. I thought she came in and took a couple good swings. That’s the position that she’s in. She had to replace somebody who was physically unable to play. I thought that she stepped up at times and there were a couple times where she was tentative. That’s part of the process I think. That’s the conference that we’re working in.
“I think you can try and hide some deficiencies in some areas. Jonni yesterday was unbelievable and today from the first game on it was obvious that she was unable to go back to the well with the same energy and confidence that she had yesterday. That’s just part of being 18 years old and having to carry a bigger load than she should.”
Kendall White on the benefits of playing two consecutive five-set matches:
“I think that playing in these five-set matches gives us a good look at when we need to not make errors and how playing with heart is going to win you the game ultimately. It shows you that you need to play from the beginning and I think that’s what we did not do tonight and we did that yesterday.
“Our first set yesterday was bad but we came out with way more heart, especially in the fifth set. It hurts to lose today but we have to learn from it. That’s all we can do. You can’t dwell on it. I think that we came out tonight not ready. That’s not an excuse no matter how late the game went yesterday.”
Coach Rose on the match slipping away late:
“We had opportunities. You have opportunities for match point and you make mistakes. We had a net violation. We had a service error. A couple of those things are players being tired and maybe just being overanxious. That’s how seasons end.”