Penn State had its bid for a comeback against the defending National Champion and top-seeded Wisconsin fall short losing in five sets on Thursday night at the UW Field House.
In the first set, Wisconsin jumped out to a 7-3 lead with kills by Devyn Robinson and Sarah Franklin and attack errors by Katie Clark and Zoe Weatherington. Penn State started to come back to take the lead at 11-10 on a kill by Kashauna Williams. But after an attack error from Williams from Penn State to pull ahead 13-12, Wisconsin would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the set which ended in a service error by Penn State winning 25-21.
In the second set, Penn State fell behind 2-0 behind kills by Robinson and Julia Orzoi. Penn State took the lead on three attack errors by Wisconsin. Both teams went back and forth, trading the lead until Wisconsin pulled away on three straight attack errors on Penn State on two blocks by Caroline Crawford to put Wisconsin up 19-14. The set ended with a Penn State service error, and Wisconsin won the second set 25-19.
In the third set, it was competitive throughout with no team having more than a three-point advantage. Wisconsin was up 21-18 when Anjelina Starck made a critical kill to start a comeback featuring two kills by Alexa Markley and completed by a kill by Williams to keep Penn State alive winning the third set 25-23.
The fourth set was another competitive one with no team getting a distinct advantage early until Penn State went on a 7-2 run with a block and two kills from Katie Clark to make the score 18-13 in favor of Penn State. Penn State evened the match with a kill by Allie Holland winning 25-20.
After Penn State recorded a kill by Williams in the fifth and deciding set, Wisconsin scored four straight points with various attack errors and a ball handling error by Seleisa Elisaia as Wisconsin scored six consecutive points to jump off to a 6-1 lead. Penn State answered with kills a kill by Clark, and a block by Williams forcing a service error. Then Penn State went on a 7-2 run, mostly due to attack errors from Penn State. Wisconsin recorded kills by Holland and Crawford to win the set and the match 15-8.
Williams led Penn State with kills with 14, Clark had 13 kills and Zoe Weatherton had 11. Smrek and Franklin had 13 kills each for Wisconsin and Robinson recorded 11 kills.
Wisconsin will face Pitt in the regional final on Saturday, and Penn State ends its season with a 26-7 record.