Eagles Pounce on Nittany Lions in First Set (but Penn State Takes Match 3-1)

According to the “Eagle Virtual Field Trip,” an eagle can spot a target as small as a rabbit up to a mile away.  Once their prey is in sight,  they swoop down close to the ground, catching the unsuspecting animal with their razor sharp talons.

Given that a Nittany Lion is considerably larger than a rabbit, and thus much easier to spot, perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles were able to make a meal of Penn State, 25-20, during the first set of last night’s match.  They outhit the Nittany Lions, .323 to .138, and at one point were leading 17-7.

To the relief of Penn State fans, the Nittany Lions regrouped to take the next three sets by scores of 25-11, 25-17,  and 25-11.  It would be tempting to say that Penn State got a wake-up call in that first set (and not only because clichés are our friends!).  But we think it’s more a reflection that this is a very young team, and young players are unpredictable — sometimes looking great, and sometimes looking . . . not so great.  Last night apparently featured some of both.

We weren’t able to see the match, but those who did reported that the connection between Fr. S Micha Hancock (36 assists, 13 digs, and 3 service aces) and her hitters showed improvement — particularly with 6-4 So. RS/Opp Ariel Scott, who registered a career-best 17 kills (.419 attack %) — as did the blocking, with 6-6 So. MH Katie Slay (9 kills, .571 attack %) totaling 10 blocks, Hancock adding 4, and 6-1 So. OH Deja McClendon (10 kills), 6-2 So. OH Maddie Martin (7 kills, career-best .545 attack %), and 6-2 Fr. MH Nia Grant, adding 3 apiece.

In the back row, 5-6 So. DS Ali Longo had 12 digs and  2 service aces, 5-6 Jr. Kristin Carpenter totaled 7 digs and 2 service aces, and 5-6 Fr. DS Lacey Fuller chipped in 2 digs and 2 service aces.  Penn State registered 11 service aces for the match — the program’s highest total in a four set match since the rally scoring-era began.

Katie Slay was named the Hampton Inn Classic MVP and was joined by Ali Longo and Ariel Scott on the Hampton Inn Classic All-Tournament Team.

For the complete match statistics, Click Here.