PROVO — BYU knocked off No. 8 Penn State in five grueling games Saturday, 21-30, 30-27, 30-23, 26-30 and 15-13.
In handing the Nittany Lions their first defeat of the season, BYU ends up 3-0 in its own Mizuno Classic and improves its record to 7-3.
The Cougars dashed off to a 13-7 lead in Game 5, but the Nittany Lions never gave up, coming back to 14-13 before April Varner smashed the kill on match point, ending Penn State's perfect season.
BYU's Kimberly Wilson was named tournament MVP after a 22-kill, 11-dig, and six-block performance against the Lions. Lindsy Hartsock scored a career-high 11 blocks, and the Cougars recorded a season-high 74 digs.
"It's a big accomplishment for us. It showed us we could play with the big teams," said Wilson.
"It was really unexpected," she said of the MVP selection. "I had no idea that was coming." The Cougars jumped out to a 10-5 lead in Game 1 before the Nittany Lions took control, outscoring BYU by 15 through the rest of the game. Senior Cara Smith led Penn State with seven kills in nine attempts and no errors. Kimberly Wilson led BYU with only 6 kills.
Game 2 started in much the same way, but Penn State was never able to pull away, giving BYU a chance to pull it out in the end as the Cougars dug in for 5 straight points and the 30-27 victory. April Varner led the Cougars with eight kills, and Wilson recorded five. The Cougars used 13 digs, including six by Uila Crabbe, to overcome five service errors and tie up the contest at one game each.
After playing to a tie at seven in Game 3, the Nittany Lions reeled off six straight points before Wilson stopped the bleeding with a powerful kill.
Three straight BYU blocks gave the Cougars a one-point lead at 18-17, and another Wilson kill put them ahead by two. The Cougars finished the game with a block, capping a 14-block performance.
The Nittany Lions proved their grit in Game 4 with the 30-26 win, tying the contest at two games apiece and sending it into a fifth and deciding game. But BYU didn't give in easily and ran off six straight on Penn State game points before Ashley Pederson knocked down the winning kill for the Lions.