Volleyball falls to No. 3 Penn State, 3-1
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The fourth-ranked Texas Volleyball team fell for the second consecutive night to No. 3 Penn State, Saturday, 3-1 (30-19, 30-13, 30-21, 30-24) in front of 2,273 fans at Rec Hall. Texas' freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette headlined the UT attack on the night, hammering out a team-high 18 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Destinee Hooker registered 17 kills.
Texas (0-2) jumped out to an early lead in game one and it would never look back, using a 10-2 run to claim a 16-6 lead. Sophomore opposite hitter/setter Ashley Engle sparked the first of the Longhorns' 4-0 runs, hammering out a pair of kills to put UT in front 10-4. The Horns then added a 5-0 run beginning at the 11-6 mark, stretching their lead to 16-6 on senior Brandy Magee and junior Lauren Paolini's block. Texas extended its advantage to its largest margin at the 23-10 mark taking advantage of a Nittany Lions' attack error.
Penn State (2-0) mounted a minor rally and closed the margin to nine at the 27-18 mark, but that would prove to be as close as they would get. Hooker was too much for the Lions down the stretch, closing the door when she connected for two of her five game-one kills to close out the game, 30-19.
"I was pleased with how hard we fought tonight and how well we responded to our loss last night," head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "We gave up some runs in a couple of games that really hurt us, but I feel like we showed signs of being able to compete at the highest level."
The Longhorns fell behind early in the second stanza, as Megan Hodge registered three early kills to give the Nittany Lions an 8-2 edge. Texas rallied back within three at the 10-7 mark on a pair of aces by Engle, but Penn State responded, stretching the lead to 11 with a block by Melissa Walbridge and Megan Hodge at the 22-11 mark. Penn State closed out the game on a 13-2 run, committing zero hitting errors for the game and out-hitting UT .680-to- -.156 in its 30-13 game-two win.
"We need to continue to play hard and get a rhythm together," Elliott noted. "We haven't had the opportunity to play four 30-point games in practice, so I think we will take a lot from these matches back into our practice gym as we prepare for the rest of the season."
The third game was a battle from the start with the Horns grabbing an early lead that they held until the Nittany Lions pulled ahead on a UT hitting error at the 7-6 mark. The teams jockeyed back-and-forth before Penn State went on a 6-0 run to push its lead to 21-13 on a kill by Christa Harmotto. Texas rallied late in the game to close the gap to six at the 27-21 mark, but three straight UT errors closed out the match with PSU on top, 30-21. Faucette paced Texas in game three, connecting for nine of her team-high 18 kills.
"We called on Juliann (Faucette) tonight to come out of her shell a little bit and I really feel like she showed us what kind of competitor she can be for our team," Elliott said.
Penn State's Nicole Fawcett pounded out a couple of kills early in the fourth stanza and handed the Nittany Lions an early 6-3 lead. Texas battled back to erase the early deficit, using three kills by senior middle blocker Brandy Magee to knot the game at 16-16. The Nittany Lions responded with a 4-0 run highlighted by a pair of kills from Fawcett to claim a 23-18 advantage. Texas quickly answered with a short 3-0 spurt to pull within two at the 23-21 mark, however, that would be as close at the Horns got as PSU used a pair of Blair Brown kills to seal a 30-24 victory.
Faucette anchored UT on the night, connecting for 18 kills on .295 hitting and eight digs, while Hooker joined her in double-digits with 17 kills and five blocks. Senior libero Alyson Jennings headlined the Texas defense with a team-high 11 kills and senior setter Michelle Moriarty directed the offense with 35 assists.
Hodge led the Penn State attack with a match-high 20 kills and Fawcett weighed in with 19 kills on .351 hitting. Harmotto added 12 kills on .524 hitting, while Glass guided the offense with 57 assists.
Texas returns to action Friday, Aug. 31 when it travels to the Houston Tourney and takes on the University of Houston at 5:30 p.m.