Blue White Illustrated

June-July 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 48 of 67

J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 4 9 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Penn State put together one of the better regular seasons in school history, but its postseason consisted of just one match: a 3-2 loss to Princeton in the semifinals of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Tournament on April 21 at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions were ranked second in the country and had earned the tournament's top seed. They went into their postseason opener having won 19 consecutive matches and were undefeated at home. But Princeton romped to a 25-16 victory in the first set, then pulled out a 28-26 win the second. Penn State rallied with victories in the third and fourth sets, but in the decisive fifth set, the Lions weren't able to hold onto a 9-6 lead and ended up falling 15-2. The upset loss cost Penn State more than just a spot in the conference championship game. It also ended up costing the Lions an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament. They finished with a 23-4 record. Following the season, five Penn State players received All-America honors. Senior outside hitter Brett Wildman made the first-team squad, while senior setter Cole Bogner and senior opposite hit- ter Cal Fisher received second-team honors. Senior libero Will Bantle and sophomore middle blocker Toby Ezeonu were honorable mention honorees. BASEBALL: Penn State pounded Michigan State in a May 8 doubleheader, winning both games over the visiting Spartans to extend its winning streak to five. In the first game, sophomore right-hander Jaden Henline threw Penn State's first nine-inning com- plete game since 2013, striking out six batters to help the Nittany Lions roll to a 15-3 victory. In the nightcap, Penn State drove Michigan State starter Wyatt Rush from the game in the third inning. Junior Matt Wood had three hits including a three-run home run, and his career-high five RBI lifted the Lions to a 10-4 victory. The series against the Spartans followed a break in the Big Ten schedule dur- ing which Penn State played four nonconference games, falling to Bucknell 8-7 before rebounding with an 8-4 win at West Virginia and a pair of victories over visiting Omaha, 8-7 and 4-3. Heading into the final game of its three-game series against the Spartans, Penn State was 22-21 overall and 9-8 in Big Ten play. SOFTBALL: The resurgent Nittany Lion softball team honored its graduating players with a dramatic victory on Senior Day. With Penn State trailing Wiscon- sin 3-2 in the seventh inning of an April 30 doubleheader finale, junior Lexie Black slapped a double into left field, scoring seniors Shelli Rivard and Ally Kur- land. Black's hit gave Penn State a 4-3 victory and avenged an 8-1 loss to the Badgers in the first game of the afternoon. It was the first walk-off hit of Black's career, and it gave senior pitcher Bailey Parshall her 19th victory of the season. Parshall won two more games the following weekend against Illinois to finish the regular season with a 21-8 record. Heading into the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State was 31-21 on the season and 13-10 in Big Ten play, a dramatic turnaround from the 2021 season in which the Lions went 7-34 against a conference- only slate. PSU was seeded seventh in the tourna- ment and opened against 10th-seeded Indiana on May 11. MEN'S LACROSSE: Penn State's season came to an end with a 16-8 loss to Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on April 30 in Baltimore. Freshman midfielder Kyle Aldridge gave the Nit- tany Lions an early lead with a first-quarter goal, but Johns Hopkins countered with a 7-0 run and never looked back. Penn State finished the season with a 3-11 record and a 1-4 mark in Big Ten play. The three victories were the team's fewest since Jeff Tambroni took over as head coach in 2011, but there were signs of hope. Four PSU players won Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors during the course of the season, including attackman Will Peden, who led the team in points (33) and assists (22). WOMEN'S LACROSSE: The Nittany Lions were only able to score one goal in the second half and fell to No. 25 Johns Hopkins 10-5 in their final game of the season. Sophomore midfielder Kristin O'Neill had three goals for Penn State, tal- lying her fourth hat trick in as many games. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Lions from suffering their seventh loss in eight games. Penn State finished the season at 6-9 overall and 0-6 in Big Ten play, miss- ing out on the conference tournament. WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD: The women's 4x800-meter relay team set a Penn State record at the Penn Relays on April 30 in Philadelphia. The team, made up of sophomores Victoria Vanriele and Madaline Ullom, and seniors Rachel Gearing and Victoria Tachinski, finished in 8:24.49 to win the Cham- pionship of America race and surpass the previous school record of 8:25.49, which had stood since 2017. It was also the fastest time in the nation to that point in the season. — Matt Herb O L Y M P I C S P O R T S R O U N D U P the start of the year onward: a 13.05 in the opener against Army, a 13.20 at the Navy Open, a 13.60 in a dual meet against Illinois. Those competitions all took place in January. By mid-March, Clingman was hitting his stride. He turned in a career- high score of 14.20 in the Nittany Lions' regular-season finale against Michigan, then he topped it two weeks later with a 14.425 to take first place at the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall. Coach Randy Jepson said Clingman laid the groundwork for his national title last year while he was working his way back from his injury. "Chase used the time over the sum- mer to really get stronger. It's been evi- dent in his work all year, but he hadn't really broken through," Jepson said. "He really gained confidence in the second half of the year. That routine is fit- ting him like a glove. He came out [at NCAAs] and rocked it." ■ Sophomore middle blocker Toby Ezeonu was named an honorable mention All-American after leading the nation with a .528 hitting percentage. He was one of five Penn State volleyball players to receive All-America honors this season. PHOTO COURTESY PENN STATE ATHLETICS

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