After seeing two-set leads evaporate each of the last two weeks, No. 3 Penn State nearly saw another decisive advantage disappear Friday night at Huff Hall.
No. 13 Illinois fought off a 19-12 third-set deficit, and staved off two match points before falling 25-16, 25-18, 24-26, 27-25.
Megan Courtney had a big night with 18 kills on .304 hitting, plus 19 digs and six blocks. She also became the eighth Nittany Lion to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for her career.
Three other Lions also had double digits in kills, with 16 for Aiyana Whitney, 11 for Haleigh Washington and 10 for Ali Frantti. Washington also posted seven blocks, Whitney had a .419 hitting night, Bryana Weiskircher had 54 assists and 14 digs, Keeton Holcomb posted 13 digs amd Kendall Pierce had 10 digs.
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Michelle Strizak’s 22 kills and Jocelynn Birks’ 21 kills paced the Illini (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten).
Penn State (15-1, 4-1), which hit .289 and held a 13-6.5 blocking advantage, visits Northwestern on Saturday.