The Wisconsin volleyball team capped a disappointing opening to conference play with a 3-0 defeat to Penn State Sunday. After dropping their first Big Ten match to the Ohio State Buckeyes Friday night, the Badgers (6-4) were easily handled by the No. 4 Nittany Lions (11-0), 30-19, 30-26, 30-28.
Struggling to establish consistent play, Wisconsin was unable to find a rhythm on offense. Senior opposite hitter Jill Odenthal was the only Badger in double-figure kills with 10.
"Our passing was not near the net where we could start a quick offense," UW head coach Pete Waite said. "When we don't have a quick offense going, the outside blocks have two blockers almost every time. We need to be more consistent throughout the match and then we'll have shots at beating any team that walks in the gym."
UW was out-hit .351 to .087 in game one, but was neck and neck with PSU for the bulk of the game. However, with the score deadlocked at 17-17, Penn State put together a 13-2 run to finish the game.
"We just have to come to every practice, every day ready to not have another weekend like this and to come out as a unit," Odenthal said. "I felt everybody at times had a good couple plays, but we're definitely not clicking. We've just got to get a flow. We've got to find it somehow."
The Badgers never led in game two, and the Nittany Lions won 30-26 behind five kills from freshman Kate Price, who finished the match with 14.
Game three saw Wisconsin come from behind to grab a lead as large as three at 15-12. After Penn State tied the score at 15-15, sophomore Maria Carlini recorded a kill to give the lead back to the home team. However, that would prove to be the final lead of the game for the Badgers. The Nittany Lions reeled off four consecutive points to take a 20-16 lead. UW showed resolve, battling back to tie the score at 28-28, but a service error from Marian Weidner and a kill from Price put the finishing touches on the three-game sweep.
"I'm really disappointed in the way we played today," Waite said. "We didn't come to compete, we just saw some glimpses of what we're capable of in the third game and I don't have an explanation for the way we played."
Senior Ashley Pederson hammered 14 kills for the Nittany Lions, while Syndie Nadeau added 10.
"It's a great win for us—to be able to come into Madison and win a match, whether it's three, four or five games," Penn State head coach Russ Rose said. "It's a great venue for volleyball and it's always a warm crowd and a competitive environment. So, we feel very fortunate to come in and come out with a victory."
Wisconsin returns to action Wednesday when it hits the road to take on Northwestern.
Badgers fall to Penn State in 3
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