No. 8 Penn State women’s volleyball swept No. 25 Illinois 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18) Friday night at Huff Hall in Champaign.
Jonni Parker’s double-double (match-high 12 kills, 10 digs, three total blocks) helped the Nittany Lions improve to 47-11 in the all-time series against the Fighting Illini. Penn State rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Illinois earlier this season on Oct. 23 in Rec Hall.
Kaitlyn Hord trailed just behind Parker with 10 kills and tied her career high with eight total blocks in the victory — a feat she had accomplished three times prior to Friday night’s sweep. Both Hord and Parker hit well above .400 against the Illini and spectacularly combined for just one attack error. Penn State didn’t trail once during the first two sets and would go on to outhit Illinois .308 to .081.
Serena Gray and Allyson Cathey tallied seven kills apiece, while Tori Gorrell added four of her own on a somewhat down night for the redshirt senior, who hit just .045 in the win. Gorrell did make her presence felt at the net, however, with five total blocks. Kendall White continued her strong play of late with 15 digs, three assists, a kill, and one of Penn State’s two service aces. She’s now just 82 digs away from breaking the program’s career record. Junior libero Morgan O’Brien performed valiantly in the loss for Illinois with a match-high 24 digs.
Gabby Blossom put together another solid outing with a match-high 35 assists, eight digs, and a kill in Penn State’s third straight win in conference play. Keeton Holcomb enjoyed an impressive performance with nine digs and an ace, while sophomore defensive specialist Brooklynn Hill made her third apperance of the season. Playing in her home state of Illinois, freshman Molly Russell came in to serve toward the end of the third set and collected a dig to set up match point, which Cathey hammered home. Penn State outblocked the Illini 11-2 in what was a thorough drubbing hardly reminiscent of the last time these two teams met.
The Nittany Lions (20-4, 13-2 Big Ten) head to Evanston Sunday for their only match against Northwestern this season at 2 p.m. ET. Penn State is currently 53-9 against the Wildcats.