Penn State's height stymies Hawkeye volleyball


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Two things were blatantly noticeable in Penn State’s win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in straight sets (25-15, 25-19, 25-15) on Wednesday night: Penn State’s height and the errors committed by each team.

The Nittany Lions came into Carver-Hawkeye Arena with one of the taller rosters in the Big Ten — they have 8 players over 6-1. That height advantage was the most important factor in their win over Iowa.

“Penn State just overwhelmed us with their size,” head coach Sharon Dingman said. “When we played [in Happy Valley], it didn’t seem to be much of a factor, but it certainly was tonight.”

Each team began with a service error to start the match, but the Nittany Lions came out with a win in the first set. The Hawkeyes only held one lead as Penn State would win the first set behind a .500 hitting percentage.

The Hawkeyes had opportunities throughout the match to steal a set — they had leads in both the second and third frames — but couldn’t find the inspiration to maintain the energy needed to beat Penn State.

“I think we let the long day get to us too much,” sophomore Erin Leppek said. “I don’t think we were lacking our skills, it was just our lack of energy.”

The lack of energy, coupled with sloppy play, prevented the Hawkeyes from playing up to their potential on a night where the No. 1 ranked team in the nation seemed beatable.

“The match lacked momentum from both teams,” junior Rachael Bedell said.

The Nittany Lions registered 9 service errors to Iowa’s 4. The issue, however, was that on the offensive attack the Hawkeyes committed 23 hitting errors while Penn State only had 8.

“We talked a lot [in the huddle] about how Penn State was making so many errors,” junior setter Nikki Dailey said. “It almost seemed like both teams didn’t want it tonight.  We were trying to step on that on use that to our advantage, but we were committing the same errors.”

Those errors halted any chance of a Hawkeye attack. Iowa hit .079 for the match and didn’t have any hitter record double-digit kills.

Then again, it’s tough to hit between women who are 5 inches taller than you.

“Penn State is a huge team,” Leppek said. “I know for the outsides, it’s hard to hit around them or over them when [Penn State] doesn’t have to jump to block you.”

The Nittany Lions registered 9.5 blocks — the Hawkeyes only had 3 blocks on the night — for the match and did a good job at making Iowa’s hitters work for their shots.

“One thing is patience,” Bedell said. “They’re a very good defensive team, and at some point we just got too frustrated. We all wanted to make the big play but I think we got to over zealous.”

The defense did a admirable job at keeping one of the most potent offenses in the nation quite — Deja McClendon was the only Nittany Lion with double digit kills (11). But overall, Dingman said the Hawkeyes have a lot of work to do to be able to gain its third conference win.

“We’re far from not having a lot of things to improve on,” Dingman said. “We have to get better in all aspects [of the game].

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