Penn State Offense Comes Alive Late to Rally Past Wisconsin

  0 Braden Keith | November 25th, 2017 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Match Stats

  • #1 Penn State Nittany Lions def. #18 Wisconsin Badgers 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20)
  • Penn State moves to 28-1 (18-1 Big Ten); Wisconsin falls to 19-9 (10-9 Big Ten)
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Attendance: 6,012
  • Box Score

Penn State ate their Thanksgiving dinners with two huge hurdles in front of them. Before the big one, against Minnesota on Saturday, the Nittany Lions had a Friday night showdown against Wisconsin and the leading National Freshman of the Year Dana Rettke. This match was very much in danger of being a “lookahead game” for Penn State – for even though Wisconsin is a little down from last year, they’re still a very good team with a number of stars capable of beating anyone in the country.

The first set built those fears, after Wisconsin beat Penn State 25-18. In that opening frame, the Nittany Lions hit just .032 – far below their nation leading (by far) .351 hitting percentage this season.

During the change, however, the Nittany Lions came alive. In the 2nd set, Penn State hit .448 (16 kills, 3 errors), led by 5 from Simone Lee and 4 from Haleigh Washington. Wisconsin had 7 hitting errors in each of the game’s 4 sets, but in the 2nd they came with just 9 kills, resulting in an .071 hitting percentage.

From there, the seniors came alive. After just 2 kills each in the opening set, Lee finished with 14 (6 errors, 37 attacks, .216) and Washington finished with 10 (1 error, 20 attacks, .450 hitting percentage). Ali Frantti, another senior, had just 1 kill in the opening set but wound up with 11 (2 errors, 31 attacks, .390 hitting percentage).

Rettke, who will be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year at least, finished with 13 kills, 3 errors, and a .476 hitting percentage. That led a team that hit just .158 as a team – Lauryn Gillis had just 3 kills and 7 errors, which is the 3rd time in the last 4 games that she’s had more errors than kills).

The Nittany Lions were also boosted by a season-high 4 aces from one of the two setters in their 5-2 offense: Bryanna Weskircher. She now has 7 aces in the team’s last 3 games and just 3 service errors against them.

For Wisconsin, senior Kelli Bates recorded her 30th career double-double with 12 digs and 11 kills. Freshman Grace Loberg entered the game in the 3rd set to give the Badgers and offensive spark and did just that with 8 kills in just 2 played.

Penn State’s regular-season finale comes on Saturday at 8:30 Eastern in Minneapolis. A win there will lock up at least a share of the Big Ten title and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.


Press Releases

Courtesy Penn State Athletics:

MADISON, WIS. – The No. 1 Penn State women’s volleyball team took down the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers, 3-1; 18-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20, in Madison, Wis., on Friday evening to move to 28-1, 18-1 on the season.

The Wisconsin native Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) led the way with 14 kills and 14 digs for the double-double, while also adding two blocks.

Ali Frantti (Spring Grove, Ill.) added 11 kills, and eight digs, while Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Co.) added 10 kills, on .450, while adding five blocks.

Heidi Thelen (Edgewood, Ky.) added nine kills and added six blocks. Tori Gorrell (Oakville, Ontario) added six kills and six blocks.

Abby Detering (Mentor, Ohio) dished out 26 assists and scooped up nine digs, while Bryanna Weiskircher put 24 assists and four aces.

Kendall White (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 13 digs.

The Nittany Lions started cold, hitting a season-low .032, in the open set, while Wisconsin relied heavily on the arm of Dana Rettke, who put down eight kills on nine attempts, while the Badgers as a team hit just .194. The Badgers took the opener, 25-18.

In the second set, Penn State bounced back, hitting .448, led by a 4-0-5 performance from Haleigh Washington, while Simone Lee added five of her own. Defensively, Heidi Thelen made three key blocks, and the Nittany Lions held the Badgers to .071 hitting with just nine kills, compared the Penn State’s 16.

Penn State jumped out to a 2-1 set lead with a powerful third set, led by Thelen. The senior put down four kills on all four of her attempts. Lee added some defensive plays to her arsenal as she scooped up six in the third set alone. Bryanna Weiskircher helped Penn State extend the lead with two aces as well.

In the fourth and final set, the Nittany Lions saw Lee lead the way with five kills, and the Nittany Lions again held their opponent to a sub-.200 hitting, as the Badgers hit just .195.

Penn State out-hit Wisconsin, .265-.158, while out-blocking them, 12.5-7.0.

The Nittany Lions head to Minneapolis, Minn., to take on the eighth-ranked Minnesota Gophers at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday evening. The match will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.


Courtesy Wisconsin Athletics:

MADISON, Wis. – An explosive first set wasn’t enough to push the 11th-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team past No. 1 Penn State Friday night at the UW Field House. Penn State prevailed in four sets 18-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20.

Senior Kelli Bates recorded her 30th career double-double thanks to 12 digs and 11 kills to lead the Badgers. Freshman Dana Rettke hit a team-high 13 kills with fellow freshman Grace Loberg adding another eight kills in just two sets.

Wisconsin (19-9 overall, 10-9 Big Ten) hit .158 (50 kills – 28 errors – 139 attempts) for the match while Penn State hit .265 (53-18-132).

Setter Sydney Hilley put up 47 assists while running the UW offense. She also added five digs and two blocks

PSU (28-1, 18-1) out blocked the Badgers 12.5 – 7. Rettke earned a team-high four stuffs.

In the backcourt, three Badgers notched double-figure digs consisting of Bates (12), Lauryn Gillis (11) and Tiffany Clark (10). The Nittany Lions earned a 53-51 advantage in digs.


  • Wisconsin held Penn State to a .265 attack percentage, its seventh lowest hitting percentage of the season, and well below its season average of .355.
  • Senior Kelli Bates recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 12 digs. It was her 30th career double-double, which ranks 10th on the UW all-time list.
  • Freshman Grace Loberg came off the bench to record eight kills in just two sets. That is one off her career best of nine kills set at Kansas State on Sept. 2.
  • Freshman Dana Rettke led Wisconsin with 13 kills, her 15th time leading the team this season and her 21st double-digit kill performance.
  • Sophomore Madison Duello had four digs in the match to surpass 100 career saves.
  • Freshmen Sydney Hilley and Dana Rettke played in their 100th career sets tonight.
  • Junior Tionna Williams had three blocks in the match to record 400 career stops.


“There were elements that we played well. We just didn’t play well enough to beat these guys. I loved the effort we were playing with defensively. I thought we executed the game plan for the most part.

“This team’s getting closer. I think that’s one of the things that if you listen to (the players) right now, they feel like we’re getting closer. You have to remember, this is a pretty young team. I don’t sense a single person losing confidence in themselves. I see feistiness up here. I see hunger and drive. That’s one of the things we discussed downstairs, that there were positives to take away from that game and let that build you up. Everything else is learning. Let’s keep learning.”
-Head coach Kelly Sheffield

“I thought the first time we played (Penn State), we stuck with them even though we weren’t playing very well at all. This time we had to fight and I thought that we played a lot better this time. I think we keep making those steps, and that’s going to help us towards the tournament getting some momentum. I thought we battled really hard tonight.”
-Freshman Sydney Hilley

Up next
The Badgers conclude Big Ten Conference play tomorrow night taking on Rutgers in the UW Field House. The match starts at 7 p.m. and seniors Lauryn Gillis and Kelli Bates will be honored after the match.

The 64-team bracket for the 2017 NCAA Tournament will be announced Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Badgers are looking for their fifth straight and 19th overall tournament appearance.


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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