- #5 Penn State def. Texas A&M 3-2 (24-26, 25-19, 25-23, 24-26, 15-12)
- Penn State moves to 5-0, Texas A&M falls to 2-1
- Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
- Attendance: 2,095
- Box Score
After riding the high of knocking off #1 Stanford on Friday, Penn State needed 5 sets and a late momentum shift to fight back the host Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday 3-2. The win was Penn State’s first in a 5-set match since October 5, 2016, where they beat Michigan in Ann Arbor by the same score.
What else does this match have in common with that one? A 30-kill performance from All-American Simone Lee, who on Saturday had 30 kills and 4 errors on 57 swings for a .456 hitting percentage.
Texas A&M countered with 28 kills from freshman Hollann Hans (.328 hitting percentage). The Aggies are relying heavily on freshmen this season – Hans, their top hitter, and Camille Conner, their setter, are both in their first varsity seasons with the Aggies.
In the 5th set, A&M used a 5-0 run to build an 8-5 lead, but after the mandatory side change, the momentum quickly changed. Penn State ran off 7 straight points to go up 12-8, and while a Hans back-row kill ended and an Aggie block pulled them within 2, a Penn State timeout quickly halted the momentum again. Two straight kills for the Nittany Lions gave them 4 chances at match point, and on the 3rd of those chances, Lee put away her 30th kill to end the match.
Penn State setter Abby Detering, the hero of the Stanford win with a triple double, was relatiely quiet in this match. She had just 3 kills to go with 32 assists, 3 block assists, and 6 digs. Ali Frantti had 16 kills and 13 digs for the Nittany Lions, which made for her 6th career double-double. It also pushed her into 25th place all-time on Penn State’s kills list. If she has a huge season and the Nittany Lions make a deep NCAA tournament run, she has an outside chance of cracking the program’s all-time top 10 (1,438 career kills).
From Texas A&M Coach Laurie Corbelli.
On taking Penn State to 5 sets….
“I feel like I say it a lot, but the future is so exciting with the young players that we’ve got. It’s just so exciting. The composure they showed and the competitiveness they showed was phenomenal from all of my players. I am so grateful that Penn State came to this gym because we want to win at home all the time, especially in the SEC. We got a chance to go against a great team in our gym and see what it is going to take from us. We’ve got what it takes. We just have to clean up a few things here and there. This showed us exactly the things that we need to work on. I’m so proud of these players and the composure they showed. This is a very fast sport. You have to make decisions on a dime, and for young players that is not easy to do when you are going against five seniors. Those kids have been playing together for a long time, and they are amazing. I was just really impressed with not only the intangibles my team showed, but also the execution.”
On mentality after switching sides in the fifth set…
“I think we got into passing trouble a little. We knew where they were going to set, their best outsides. They got their five-point run after we got a five-point run. The shift of momentum happened. We were really just struggling to figure out how to score that point. It was maybe the most important time in the match. I think that’s finishing, and that’s something that we will learn. I don’t think I am going to have to tell the team to finish, because they witnessed it. They saw it. When we incorporate things for finishing in our drills in practice, they are going to be completely engaged, and we will get it. It just takes a little bit of practice to be that good at that point in time against a team that amazing.”
On how they handled Penn State’s hitters…
“I thought we did okay. Early, it was off and on with the block and our defense. I felt like we started to really get a feel for their attackers, their tendencies, and the power that they hit with. My libero and two defensive specialists are in charge of 90 percent of the first balls that go to the target. They struggled to start the match a little bit off and on, but they really steadied out to get us Set 4. We know when Camille [Conner] is front row and we can put the ball up there, she can attack with the best of them. That was really hard for them, and they couldn’t stop her. They just got more and more confidence. Just learning to finish is really the biggest thing I have in my notes. I really need to help the team learn that.”
On Camille Conner and Hollann Hans…
“Both of these two, I never have to say go hard or go harder. Ever. That’s pretty special as a coach to have. It is going to be a special year, and these two are going to be a big part of that. I couldn’t be happier that it is those two, because I trust them completely and know that they are committed to this program. I know they are passionate about volleyball and winning. They trust us, and we trust them. All of those things are in place to only mean better things ahead. I am really fortunate that the players I have are great people on top of great volleyball players. You never want to quit coaching when you have that.”
Texas A&M freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans
On fighting to five sets…
“That was a lot of fun. The fight that everyone had was really great to see. We just came together as a team and played against one of the best teams in the country, so that was just so fun. We could have come out with a win, but I am still so proud of everyone and how the fight was.”
On what this match says about the team…
“It is a great feeling with how young we are and how much potential we have to be so great. We already are playing so great, but as the year goes on I know that we are going to get a lot better. I am just so proud of everyone.
On gaining confidence from this match…
“I think [it gives us confidence]. Just the way we handled ourselves in tough situations. When we were playing the highs and the lows, the way that we kept composure I think is a great thing going forward. I am really excited for the future.”
Texas A&M freshman setter Camille Conner
On mentality heading into the match…
“We just came in and treated it like any other team. We stepped onto the court and had a lot of composure. There were nerves, but nobody showed it. Everyone played with a lot of heart today.”
On being comfortable on the court even as a freshman…
“It really helps in practice going all out, so when I go out onto the court it transfers. Every time I step on the court, I give everything I can to my teammates.”