MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (September 17, 2021) – Unable to overcome a PSU offense in the final game of the Mountaineer Invitational, the West Virginia University volleyball team (10-1) dropped a 3-0 match to No. 20, Penn State on Friday evening, in set scores of 22-25, 13-25 and 20-25.
WVU opened the tournament on, Thursday with a double-header. West Virginia beat George Washington (0-9), in set scores of 25-18, 25-18, 24-26 and 25-8. Following the win, the Mountaineers swept the UMBC Retrievers (4-9) in set scores of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-21.
“We played a really good Penn State team,” said coach Reed Sunahara. “We got exposed in our weaknesses. They are in the top-25 historically for a reason. They are well-coached, and they play hard. They dug a lot of balls, and they don’t make mistakes. We have to fix our game and make sure that we keep getting better.”
In Friday evening’s matchup, the Mountaineers posted 36 kills, along with five team blocks. The Nittany Lions had 37 kills and 10 team blocks.
WVU was led by senior setter Lacey Zerwas, who recorded 23 assists. She was joined by senior outside hitter Kristin Lux, who tallied a team-high of eight kills and redshirt senior Adrian Ell with seven kills.
The Nittany Lions opened the set, 3-0. The teams followed with traded points, and a 4-0 WVU scoring run tied the game, 13-13. PSU took another lead, but WVU kept the score close. The Mountaineer squad tied the game again, 21-21. A kill from senior outside hitter Natali Petrova brought WVU within one point of PSU, but the Nittany Lions took the last two points and won the set, 25-22.
Penn State rolled to a 20-7 lead to start the second set and never looked back. Consecutive kills from Ell and Lux cut the Mountaineers’ deficit to 10 at 20-10, but PSU claimed five of the last eight points for the 25-13 win in the set and 2-0 lead in the match.
The third frame started similar to the first, with the Mountaineers keeping the game alive. Penn State was up 10-5, but West Virginia went on a 3-0 run to get back into the game. After a few traded points WVU went on another scoring run to tie the game, 13-13. The teams traded points again, but PSU took a 24-19 lead. WVU held on for one more serve with a kill from Ell, but Penn State took the final set with a score of 25-20.
The Mountaineers and the Colonials have met 31 times in program history, with George Washington holding a 22-9 advantage in the all-time series.
It’s been eight years since WVU and UMBC last squared off. The two teams have now played 10 times since 1979, with the Mountaineers holding a 9-1 edge in the all-time series.
West Virginia and seven-time National Champions Penn State went head-to-head for the 29th time in program history. The Nittany Lions hold a 0-29 record in the all-time series.
Looking ahead, West Virginia will kick off its Big 12 season in Morgantown, West Virginia, with two matches against Oklahoma, from Sept. 24-25. Friday’s match will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a match on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The first of two Dollar Nights of the season is scheduled for Friday’s match. All tickets and select concession items will be just one dollar. The match will also be a Friday Night Happy Hour from 5-6 p.m.
Saturday’s match is presented by WVU Medicine Children’s and will be the annual Gold Rush match. All fans are encouraged to wear gold. The Mountaineers will be giving away 150 gold headbands as part of the promotion. Saturday’s contest will also be the Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer match, where the Mountaineers will dawn gold shoelaces courtesy of Go 4 the Goal Foundation and WVU Medicine Children’s. The match will also be a Mountaineer Kids Club t-shirt pickup day with special appearances by MKC mascot Musket as well as Mr. Twister’s Balloon Art and Face Painting.