UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team fought back from an 0-2 deficit to beat No. 16 Penn State 3-2 at Rec Hall on Friday night.
In front of the largest Penn State home crowd in 20 years (6,645), the Huskers stormed back after dropping the first two sets by scores of 25-15 and 25-23. Nebraska turned it around in sets three and four, winning 25-18 and 25-20. In the fifth set, the Huskers led 8-3 but allowed Penn State to come back and tie the score, and it remained tied at 13-13 before Harper Murray and Merritt Beason recorded back-to-back kills to win the match and help the Huskers (22-0, 13-0 Big Ten) remain unbeaten. Penn State fell to 15-7 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten.
The last time the Huskers came back from an 0-2 deficit to win in five sets was on March 12, 2021 against Ohio State at the Devaney Center. The last time the Huskers accomplished that feat in a true road match was Sept. 6, 2018 at Creighton. The Huskers won their seventh match in a row against Penn State.
Beason had a career-high 27 kills on .426 hitting with five digs and three blocks. Her 27 kills tied Mikaela Foecke's 27 kills in 2018 as the most by a Husker since 2013.
Murray finished with 15 kills and 14 digs and hit .379. Bekka Allick had a season-high 11 kills with a .381 hitting percentage and a team-high five blocks. Andi Jackson provided nine kills on .389 hitting with three blocks, and Ally Batenhorst finished with seven kills and four blocks.
Bergen Reilly set the Huskers to a .288 hitting percentage with 52 assists and 13 digs. Lexi Rodriguez had 13 digs and a career-high 11 set assists.
Penn State hit .298 for the match and had a 17-9 edge in blocks. But the Huskers had 12 more kills (71-59) and six more digs (56-50). NU served two aces and wasn't aced by the Nittany Lions all night. Both teams had 12 service errors.
Jezz Mruzik had 21 kills for Penn State.
Set 1: Nebraska got off to a slow start as Penn State scored the first four points and led 7-1. The Nittany Lions proceeded to go up 15-5 before two kills by Murray and one by Allick brought the Big Red within 15-8. But after seven straight sideout rallies, Taylor Trammell put Penn State ahead 20-11 with a kill. The Nittany Lions won 25-15, hitting .552 in the set, while Nebraska hit .310.
Set 2: Penn State used a 6-0 run to take a 9-4 lead. Two kills by Allick and a block by Allick and Beason pulled the Huskers within 12-11. The Nittany Lions answered with a 4-1 run to go up 16-12, but a kill by Jackson helped the Huskers get back within one, 17-16. Once again, Penn State answered and went back up by five, 23-18. Beason and Allick had kills as NU cut it to 23-21, but Penn State claimed set point after a successful challenge resulted in a kill. Beason brought the Huskers within one again after back-to-back kills, but Mruzik ended the set at 25-23 with a kill.
Set 3: Nebraska tried to get some momentum going with a 4-0 start to the third set. Allick, Beason and Murray all had kills with Reilly at the service line. The Huskers led 6-1 before Penn State went on a 5-1 run to cut it to 7-6. Beason had a kill before a solo block by Batenhorst and kill by Jackson made it 10-6 Big Red. The teams traded sideouts with Murray and Beason posting kills to keep NU in front by four. A service error by Penn State gave the Huskers a 15-10 lead, but the Nittany Lions scored three of the next four to cut it to 16-13. Then Beason and Murray came up with kills for an 18-14 advantage, and Reilly dumped a kill before teaming up with Allick for a block that made it 20-15 Huskers. Murray had two more kills, and Beason and Jackson each had one as the Huskers closed out a 25-18 win to stay alive.
Set 4: Holding a 9-8 lead, the Huskers went on a 7-1 run to seize control at 16-9. Beason started the spurt with a kill and a block with Jackson. Jackson and Batenhorst added kills during a Beason service run, which included an ace by the junior captain. Batenhorst, Beason and Reilly tallied kills for a 19-13 advantage, but Penn State chipped away to get within 22-19. Batenhorst and Murray answered with key kills for the Big Red to earn set point, 24-19, and Murray finished the set with a kill for a 25-20 win.
Set 5: After Penn State scored first, Beason and Murray tallied kills before a block by Allick and Batenhorst and another kill by Beason made it 4-1. Penn State scored the next two, but Allick sided out with a kill and Beason connected on two in a row before Batenhorst put the Huskers up 8-3 as the teams changed sides. Penn State scored a 4-0 run to close the gap to 8-7 before Beason earned a sideout kill. The Nittany Lions tied the set 9-9, but NU went back in front with kills by Batenhorst, Allick and Murray to make it 13-11. A Husker hitting error and Penn State block tied the score at 13-13, but Murray and Beason provided the final two kills for a 15-13 win.
Up Next: The Huskers will head to Rutgers for a match on Sunday at Noon (CT).