State College, Pa.- The No. 3 Nebraska volleyball team (8-2, 0-1) fell to the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions 3-1 (25-23, 26-28, 17-25, 24-26) Wednesday at Rec Hall in State College, Pa. In the first Big Ten showdown of the season, the Huskers pushed Penn State to the edge, but could not come away with the road victory.
Gina Mancuso led the Huskers with 12 kills on the night. Meghan Haggerty notched 11 kills, as Hayley Thramer recorded 10 kills and Hannah Werth tabbed eight of her own. Lauren Cook had 44 assists as the Huskers hit just .209 as a team. Werth led Nebraska with 16 digs. Penn State notched a .315 team hitting percentage.
The Huskers and Nittany Lions came out fighting for every point. Mancuso helped Nebraska take a 7-6 lead early in the first set, while a kill from Werth put NU up 11-9. Morgan Broekhuis posted a kill, giving Nebraska a 15-13 advantage before a timeout. NU came out of the timeout scoring two consecutive points on a kill by Mancuso and another by Haggerty, as PSU was forced to call a timeout of their own. The Huskers went up 20-16 after Thramer notched a kill, while Paige Hubl served an ace, putting NU ahead 21-16. Penn State went on a 4-0 run to cut the Huskers' lead to 23-22, but the Huskers closed out the Nittany Lions in the first set as they won 25-23.
In the first set Thramer led the Huskers with five kills, while Broekhuis and Haggerty both had four. Cook tabbed 15 assists as the Huskers hit .395 as a team. Penn State notched a .412 hitting percentage and three team blocks, compared to NU's two.
Penn State went up 5-2 in the second set, as Cook and Haggerty teamed up for a double stuff block to cut PSU's lead to 7-5. The Nittany Lions went up 9-5 and forced Nebraska to use a timeout. Haggerty ended a 5-0 run by Penn State to make it 11-6, Nittany Lions. NU and PSU would trade runs, as Werth cut the Penn State lead to 20-18. Mancuso punched a kill through to put Nebraska within one at 22-21. Back-to-back kills by Haggerty made it 23-22, NU and gave the Huskers their first lead of the set since going up 1-0. The two teams would trade points until PSU edged NU 28-26 in the second set, tying the match at one set apiece.
Mancuso recorded six kills for the Huskers in the second set, while Werth and Haggerty both had four apiece. Cook tabbed 13 assists as NU went on to hit .186 in the set. Penn State notched a .324 hitting percentage and out-blocked Nebraska 5-3 in the second set.
Penn State came out to a 3-2 lead in the third set before Mancuso tied it up. Haggerty and Cook teamed up for a block to make it 7-6, PSU, but the Nittany Lions took a 9-6 lead and forced NU to use a timeout. Penn State went on a 5-0 run to go up 13-6. Nebraska would never be able to muster much of a comeback as PSU went on to take the third set 25-17, leading the match 2-1.
Cook, Mancuso and Thramer all recorded two kills in the third set. The Huskers hit .259 in the set, while PSU notched a .376 hitting percentage.
Aided by an ace from Mancuso, the Huskers took a 6-1 lead in the fourth set and forced Penn State to use an early timeout. Nebraska went up 9-1, before Penn State posted eight consecutive points to tie the set at 9-9. Penn State surged ahead to a 14-11 lead before Nebraska used a timeout. Thramer put NU within 17-14, as Thramer and Mancuso teamed up with a block to make it 19-18, PSU. Penn State committed a service error, cutting their lead to 21-18, while a block by Cook put NU within 24-23. Nebraska tied the match at 24-24, but could not complete the comeback and fell 26-24 in the fourth, losing the match 3-1.
The Huskers return to action on Saturday as they travel to Ohio State to face the Buckeyes at 6 p.m.