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Penn State women’s volleyball rolls in NCAA tourney opener. Who’s next Saturday?

Penn State’s Jonni Parker gets the kill past Howard defenders during the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Rec Hall.  Penn State won in three sets, 25-9, 25-9, 25-8.
Penn State’s Jonni Parker gets the kill past Howard defenders during the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Rec Hall. Penn State won in three sets, 25-9, 25-9, 25-8. adrey@centredaily.com

No. 8 seed and 7th-ranked Penn State women’s volleyball jumped out early in its NCAA tournament opener against Howard and never looked back in a 25-9, 25-9, 25-8 victory.

Penn State sided out at an impressive 96 percent for the match, going a perfect 10-10 in the second set, and a perfect 8-8 in the third. Eight different players registered kills for the Nittany Lions with freshman Jonni Parker leading the way with a match-high nine kills and a .444 hitting percentage.

The Lady Lions grabbed a 10-1 lead in the first set on the way to 25-9 win. In the second set, Kendall White picked up her fifth dig of the match to give her 508 as she became Penn State’s single-season record-holder in the 25-point scoring era, passing Alyssa D’Errico’s 507 in 2010.

The second and third sets were more of the same with Penn State taking leads of 7-1 and 14-5 on the way to another 25-9 second-set win. In the third set, the Lady Lions held leads of 9-2, 14-4 and then 18-6 on a deep corner tip ball by Allyson Cathey. Penn State took the sweep with a 25-8 third-set victory.

Redshirt senior Nia Reed had eight kills, hitting .389, while both freshman Kaitlyn Hord and graduate student Taylor Leath added seven. Hord hit .583 for the match, while Leath hit .467 and both were error-less in their attacking. The offensive production wrapped up with five kills for Tori Gorrell, two kills for both Bryanna Weiskircher and Cathey, and one for Amanda Phegley. Redshirt senior Bryanna Weiskircher directed the offense to 41 kills and a .474 hitting percentage as she dished out 27 assists. She also added four digs and two blocks.

The Nittany Lions improved to 24-7 on the season, and gave the program and coach Russ Rose 99 career NCAA Tournament victories. Next up for Penn State Saturday at 7 p.m. will be Syracuse, which beat Yale in Friday’s first match, 25-22, 25-21 and 25-16. It’s the first-ever NCAA tournament for Syracuse.

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