Iowa volleyball takes No. 14 Penn State to five sets, falls 3-2

With the loss, the Hawkeyes fell to 1-7 in conference play this season.


Isabella Cervantes

Iowa head coach Jim Barnes spoke with the team during a volleyball match between Iowa and Indiana at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated Hoosiers 3-2.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball took No. 14 Penn State to five sets inside Xtream Arena on Saturday night. The Hawkeyes ultimately fell, 3-2, and the Nittany Lions lead the series, 57-0.

Iowa is now 1-7 in conference play and 7-12 overall under first year head coach Jim Barnes.

“We really wanted that one, and it’s tough,” Barnes said. “You know, we have players that really want to finish it, and we played a little too tight towards the end.”

How it happened

The first set started in favor of the Hawkeyes as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead, forcing a Nittany Lion timeout. It was knotted at 12, but a 7-0 run by Penn State put the Nittany Lions up, 19-12. 

The Hawkeyes responded with a 9-2 run themselves to tie it up at 21. A kill and an ace by Hawkeye outside hitter Addie VanderWeide helped seal the first set, 27-25 — Iowa’s first set victory over Penn State in five years. The Iowa defense held Penn State to a .059 hitting efficiency in the first set.

The second set was an exchange of points until Penn State went up 16-13, causing an Iowa timeout. A block by middle hitter Delaney McSweeney and a service error by the Nittany Lions knotted it at 21. But Penn State pulled away and won the set, 25-22.

Iowa scored the first point in the third set on a kill by outside hitter Michelle Urquhart. Penn State responded by jumping out to an 8-2 lead. A kill by VanderWeide cut the Nittany Lions lead to two, forcing a Penn State timeout. But the Nittany Lions pulled away from there, hitting .619 as they sailed to a 25-15 victory. 

RELATED: Iowa volleyball swept by No. 5 Wisconsin 

The Hawkeyes bounced back in the fourth set. A block by middle hitter Amiya Jones gave Iowa its biggest lead of the set, 13-7. The Nittany Lions kept fighting, but a kill by Jones sealed the set for Iowa, 25-20.

Kills by outsider hitter Audrey Black and Urquhart gave Iowa a 10-8 lead in the fifth set, but Penn State scored four consecutive points to take the lead, 12-10. A kill by Jones and McSweeney knotted it at 12, but the Nittany Lions pulled away as a kill by outside hitter Kashuana Williams sealed the set for Penn State, 15-13.

McSweeney led the Hawkeyes with a .364 hitting percentage. Jones and Urquhart had 14 and 11 kills, respectively. 

“I’m so proud of how hard we fought,” Jones said. “We’re so close. We have to learn how to finish out games, that’s the only piece we’re missing right now.”

Penn State middle blocker Allie Holland, who ranks fifth in the conference with 1.40 blocks per set and tenth in the conference hitting .322, had 10 kills and seven blocks, leading all scorers with 19 points. Williams had 16 kills for the Nittany Lions.

What’s next?

The Hawkeyes are back inside Xtream Arena on Wednesday as they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 3-1, in Minneapolis on Oct. 2.

Minnesota is currently ranked 10th in the nation with a 10-6 record.

“We’re so close to breaking through,” Barnes said. “I’m just proud of how we keep fighting and how we treat each other and how we handle challenges. Because that’s the only way you’ll get to winning, is by handling that the right way.”