Three weeks ago, Penn State walked out of Rec Hall with its head held high after knocking off then-No. 5 Nebraska in a five-set shootout.
Tonight, the No. 7 Nittany Lions found themselves in another five-set classic with No. 8 Nebraska, but this time Penn State wasn’t able to escape the Cornhuskers’ 250th consecutive regular-season home sellout, falling 3-2 behind a strong performance from Nebraska’s Mikaela Foecke, who finished with 15 kills, 29 digs and six blocks.
On the road in one of the Big Ten’s toughest environments, Penn State started out the night firing, going up by four early in the opening set. A 7-2 run by Nebraska changed everything, however, and before Russ Rose and his Nittany Lions knew it, they were down 15-14 heading into the media timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Huskers continued their hot streak, jumping out to a 23-19 lead until the Nittany Lions closed back in, tying the match at 25. With the opening set tied in overtime, two Nebraska errors finished out the first set, as Penn State came back to win 27-25, and jump out to a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, the Nittany Lions found themselves one-step behind again, falling behind by six going into Penn State’s second timeout with the score sitting at 19-13. Penn State struggled to catch up, falling down 24-15 as Nebraska hit set point first for the second set tonight.
While the Nittany Lions used a 4-0 run to try and get back in the match, it was too little too late, as a combination block by Nicklin Hames and Callie Schwarzenbach put the second set away for the Huskers 25-19, tying the match 1-1.
A much closer beginning to the third set saw the score tied multiple times throughout the first half. After 13 ties throughout, Penn State took its first two-point lead of the third set with the score sitting at 19-17.
After a timeout by Rose with the Nittany Lions up 23-21, freshman Kaitlyn Hord’s 10th kill of the night gave Penn State set point before senior Bryanna Weiskircher put the road team up 2-1 on the night with her third block of the match.
With an opportunity to escape with a four-set victory, Penn State started slow once again. Down three early in the set, the deficit grew to six after a pair of challenges went against the Nittany Lions.
From that point on, it was all Huskers, as Penn State wasn’t able to challenge Nebraska in the set. The Nittany Lions tried to catch up late once again, but it wasn’t enough as the Huskers tied the match 2-2 with a 25-18 victory.
Now, with the match officially on the line in the fifth set, the Nittany Lions pulled ahead 3-1 early before Nebraska was able to get control back with a three-point lead after the two teams swapped sides.
With the score sitting at 10-6 coming out of the Nittany Lions’ timeout, Nebraska dominated the rest of the set, using an 11-3 run to win the final set 15-8, and the match 3-2.