Coach Brandwene Interview
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Christi Vetter enjoys debate, but there is no debating her athletic versatility.
The 5-foot-11 freshman forward arrived at Penn State having been a four-sport athlete during her high school years at Lakeville North.
She skipped playing high school hockey during her senior year to pursue Nordic skiing. Vetter was a four-year letter winner in golf and a three-year letter winner in cross-country.
"In high school I was a four-sport athlete," said Vetter. "I played hockey obviously. I was in Nordic skiing my senior winter instead of playing for the high school [hockey] team. I was on the golf team, and I ran cross-country."
Vetter is an excellent golfer, which translates well into a hard slap shot on the ice. She holds her high school record for lowest score on the links.
"My lowest score was a 69.... I guess I hold the high school record for now," said Vetter.
The coolest sports story during Vetter's high school career came back in 2012-13 though when her team fell to Minnetonka in the longest game in Minnesota high school hockey tournament history. Current teammates Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman and Hannah Ehresmann beat Vetter and Lakeville North in a six overtime marathon.
Vetter still remembers the story.
"That was awful," said Vetter. "I was on the first line, so I was out every other shift. Once it got towards the second and third overtime it ended up being my line on the ice until we couldn't skate any more, and the second line was on the ice until they couldn't skate anymore.... It was really intense. I dislocated my thumb sometime during the game. I was removed from the ice. They wanted me to stop the game, so I went into the tunnel, had them pop it back in, taped it up, and I finished the game.... It was a nine period game, so six overtimes. It ended around 1:15 in the morning."
In fact, it was Petersen who scored the winning goal on a controversial call. Unfortunately for Vetter and her team, the goal could not be reviewed because those in charge of replay left the rink at 11 p.m.
Vetter's height, strength and hockey IQ make her a perfect fit in head coach Josh Brandwene's system.
The Lakeville, Minnesota, native was a member of the USA Hockey U18 National Team in 2012, but she says that her experiences with the squad are different than collegiate game.
"The U18 National Team it was completely competitive all the time," said Vetter. "You're friends, but you're not best friends. You're competing against them constantly. Here, we are all friends. We're all family. We get along so well, so it's a completely different environment."
Once Vetter stepped foot in Happy Valley, she knew Penn State was where she wanted to play collegiate hockey.
"I came to Penn State because it has a great academic reputation as long as a phenomenal athletic reputation," said Vetter. "And, when I came to visit I knew quite a few Minnesota girls, and they introduced me to some other girls on the team. I thought they were girls with great character, so I wanted to play with girls like that."
Coach Brandwene Interview
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The recipe for success can be modeled after Penn State women's volleyball senior Micha Hancock. The ingredients are simple - be competitive, be tough, work hard, be a leader and be humble.
Hancock is adorned with many awards during her decorated Penn State career. She was the 2013 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, was named AVCA First Team All-America for two consecutive years, was named a finalist for an ESPY, among many other accolades. All of the recognitions begin with Hancock's drive to be the best.
Hancock started playing volleyball when she was very young. Her mom, a volleyball player herself, brought Hancock into the gym with her before she could even walk. When she was nine, she began playing competitive volleyball with her older sister.
The Oklahoma native grew up trying to keep up with her sister, who is three years older, whether it was on the court or off. This is where Hancock's competitive spirit originated.
"Even when we're running to the car, I want to get there first. I've always been pretty competitive," Hancock said. "I feel like it's in my blood."
Hancock's competitive nature grew with her and eventually became a part of her. And it helped her land a spot on Penn State's roster. In high school, Hancock was committed to play volleyball at another college. During spring break of her senior year of high school, she visited Penn State, talked to head coach Russ Rose, changed her commitment... and the rest was history.
"I liked the staff, I loved the campus, I loved the school, and I had heard great things about it, so I made the decision to come here," Hancock said.
Her teammates and coaches have appreciated her competitive nature as well. In fact, Rose's favorite part about Micha is how competitive she is.
"She's really competitive, she's got a great arm and she's physically competitive," Rose said.
Hancock and associate head coach Salima Rockwell have a close relationship and it shows during matches. Against No. 17 Ohio State on Tuesday night, Rockwell took Hancock aside and had a one-on-one conversation with her during a time out. As Rockwell spoke, Hancock nodded her head, seeming to be on the exact same page as Rockwell.
"Micha's awesome. She's so much fun to coach. She's someone that's confident. And she's a severe competitor," Rockwell said.
Playing on the court with a player like Hancock benefits the entire team. Teammate and friend Megan Courtney said she has formed a great relationship with Hancock over the past three years.
"She's like no other person I've ever played with. She's competitive, she's a great role model, she does what she does really well and she expects the best out of you," Courtney said. "She's a great person to play with because she's never too high or too low. She's always consistent."
That's the sound of the crowd in Rec Hall while Hancock serves. The cheer, replicating the sound of a bomb, is because of her aggressive, explosive serve.
Her serve came from playing as both a hitter and a setter in her early years of volleyball. She uses the skills she learned from being an attacker in her serving. Hancock has 322 career aces, a program record.
Being an attacker gave Hancock the skills to become a successful hitter on the team, as well. Against Ohio State, Hancock had five kills on seven swings.
Hancock is both mentally and physically tough. She rallies the team after losing a point, dives for every ball and serves tough.
Freshman Haleigh Washington admires Hancock for how tough she is. Washington said she hopes to play like Hancock one day.
"[It] doesn't matter if we're down, [it] doesn't matter if were up, [it] doesn't matter what's happening, she's a really tough kid. She's a hard worker, she'll hit the ground, she'll dive, she'll roll around, she'll keep going, she'll get criticism," Washington said. "She's a tough kid that can handle a lot. It's really admirable and it's something that I want to develop as a player myself."
Hancock's efforts against Ohio State did not go unnoticed. In addition to her five kills, the senior setter had four digs and a season-high seven blocks. She is working hard both physically and emotionally as a leader of the team, trying to rally the team and increase the level of play during the remainder of her senior season.
"The biggest thing were trying to focus on is coming out of the gate strong. It's nice to have three 3-0 wins in a row, you feel like you're getting tighter with the group," Hancock said. "We needed to have more energy [earlier in the season] and I think we've been showing that with our 3-0 wins."
Hancock has been a hard worker since she stepped on the court. She holds the Penn State record for career aces, she has been named Big Ten Setter of the Year, AVCA First-Team All America, Big Ten Player of the Week, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and much more.
Her hard work paid off in 2013 when the team won the NCAA National Championship. But surprisingly, that isn't her favorite memory as a Penn State women's volleyball player.
"[My favorite memory] was the two years leading up to the national championship because it created the fight we had that third year, my junior year, to win the championship," Hancock said. "And that's the most important thing, just being a team."
Be a Leader:
As a freshman playing in every match, Hancock was guided by seniors, who showed her the ropes of Penn State women's volleyball. Now, as a senior, it's her time to be a leader.
Her goal for her senior season is to continue as a successful leader of the team.
"[My goal is to] lead the best I can, get as much out of this team as we can," Hancock said. "I'm trying to work with the staff, work with the girls individually, watch film, know what I can be better at and ease the path to hopefully compete for a championship."
Hancock's leadership during matches is what sets her apart from other players. In every huddle, she is the one telling her teammate, 'good job', telling the team what to do next and encouraging the team after a lost point.
During timeouts, after Rose talks to the team, it's Hancock's turn, getting the players ready for the next series of points.
She's the first to high-five the player who got the kill, ace or block, and she's the first to lift a teammate's spirit after an error or lost point.
Washington said Hancock's leadership has been efficient and it has helped her adjust to playing college volleyball.
"She keeps us very focused, which is a good trait to have, especially as a leader. She focuses on the next point, focuses on staying calm, focuses on staying excited," Washington said. "She makes sure that we're paying attention, that we're ready for the next play and that we know what's going on. Especially as freshman, we haven't played the game very much, she keeps us locked in."
From a coaching standpoint, Rockwell also sees her success as a leader.
"She's a senior now, she's got that sense of urgency. She wants to win, she wants to be great," Rockwell said. "The girls feel that, they follow along with that. She's doing an excellent job leading this team."
The match against Ohio State on Tuesday was an important match between two Big Ten teams. The Big Ten Network had a camera set up on the court during warm ups and most of the time, the camera was on Hancock.
As she stretched, jogged and talked to teammates, the camera was right there with her. But not once did she act differently, or even acknowledge that that camera was on her.
Courtney said that despite the attention that Hancock gets for her level of play, she always remains humble.
"She gets a lot of hype for how good she is, but if you actually have a chance to talk to her, and sit down with her and actually have a meaningful conversation with her, she is so down to earth," Courtney said.
As a senior, this season is Hancock's last time in a Penn State uniform. She said being a senior feels very different.
"I definitely feel the urgency of senior year and trying to lead these girls, the young ones especially, who have so much talent," Hancock said. "It's great to see them working hard, but also getting them mentally prepared for the years to come. It's really fun."
After graduating, Hancock hopes to play professionally.
"I love the game so much, and that's what I want to do," Hancock said.
The team and the Penn State volleyball community will miss Hancock when she graduates, but her legacy will live on.
"I'm really going to miss her, but I wish her the best of luck in what she does. And I know even then, if she plays professionally or for the national team, she's still going to be humble and great," Courtney said. "She's just an all-around great person, not just a great player."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After assisting the Costa Rican national team in qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time ever, Raquel Rodriguez returned to Happy Valley this week with plenty of new experience.
Rodriguez, along with her Costa Rican teammates, made some history, and she was thrilled to be a part of it.
"I'm so grateful to part of the team that's making history. It's a huge deal for Costa Rica and I'm blessed to be a part of it," said Rodriguez.
By being the first Central American team to qualify, Rodriguez and her team are role models for future female athletes in their country.
Costa Rica clinched a spot in the World Cup field by beating Trinidad and Tobago on penalty kicks in a CONCACAF semifinal match on Friday night.
"The tournament is so unique that it's such a different experience from playing college soccer. I was really happy to be with my Costa Rican teammates again and being able to play for my country means so much," Rodriguez said.
Going from being a leader on Jeffrey Field to playing for Costa Rica, Rodriguez continues to be a rising star at the international level. She scored three goals for Costa Rica during the CONCACAF tournament run.
"We had a great chance to qualify so we played with a clear goal in mind," said Rodriguez. "The mentality we had was to win."
Having played for the national team before Penn State, Rodriguez was grateful to experience some international play again.
"Playing internationally is a really cool experience," said Rodriguez. "When facing the other countries you can see how each one has their own playing style."
Coming from Costa Rica to Penn State, Rodriguez is given the chance to inspire fellow international students on campus and be an example for fellow female athletes in Costa Rica.
She has previously mentioned how she wants to change the way her native country views female athletes and stand as a role model for future generations.
Not only does Rodriguez represent female athletes, she inspires younger women in Costa Rica to get a meaningful college degree, as well.
After college she has plans to return Costa Rica with her college degree and prove that anyone can excel as an athlete and earn a prestigious degree.
"It's a legacy that we are leaving behind and we hope that future generations continue to carry," said Rodriguez.
While Rodriguez was playing in CONCACAF, she found comfort in knowing her Penn State family was back at school cheering her on.
"It's awesome to be back," said Rodriguez. "It was so nice having everyone greet me with such excitement. I love my PSU family so having them shower me with this much love means a lot to me."
After celebrating Costa Rica's qualification, Rodriguez received the news that Penn State clinched the Big Ten title.
Although she was unable to be celebrate with her teammates on Jeffrey Field, she couldn't be happier for the Lions' accomplishment.
"I'm so proud to be part of Penn State. To hear the news I was so happy and wish I could have been here," said Rodriguez.
With one regular season game left for the Lions, Rodriguez and the rest of the team are staying focused before they embark on the 2014 postseason.
Rodriguez is the type of player anyone can look up too. She is using her passion for soccer to help change history in Costa Rica and is continuing to represent the ideal student-athlete at Penn State.
"I'm really proud of what we accomplished for Costa Rica, but it's great to be back with Penn State," Rodriguez said.
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This year's Penn State track and field throwers are coming off summer training stronger and more experience than before. This week GoPSUSports.com caught up with the student-athletes and Coach Patrick Ebel for part two of the 2015 season previews.
Senior Darrell Hill returns this season as a captain for the Nittany Lions after spending the summer in California with the USA track and field team at the USATF Outdoor Championships where he posted a 10th-place finish in the shot put with his mark of 64 feet, 1.25 inches.
"Making it to [the USA Championships] was a huge goal of mine and just to be able to be there in that wonderful facility in Sacramento and to be able to compete with...some of the best people in the world.. and finish high and make it to the finals just showed me that my time is coming and that with hard work I can make it back next year and be even better," said Hill.
Junior Michael Shuey threw a school record-breaking, gold medal-winning 249-5 javelin toss at the U-23 Championships in Kamloops, Canada and he spent time in California along with Hill and the USA National Team.
"I got to go to Canada and had an amazing experience at the Olympic Training Center, I got to hang out with Darrell Hill, and I finally hit 249 and it was awesome," said Shuey. "Everyone that was on the team was the top [competitor] in his or her event. [It was] an amazing experience."
Junior Rachel Fatherly spent the summer training and conditioning with her teammates. They're returning this year well built and determined to dominate the competition.
"We are all physically stronger than we were before...in the weight room we are putting up higher numbers. The summer had a lot to do with it. We did strength and conditioning and we're all in a good mindset. We want to reach really high goals this year," said Fatherly.
The team's first meet, a Blue vs. White intrasquad competition, is set for Sat., Dec. 13th.
For more information on Penn State track and field visit GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There's no "I" in team, which is a concept goaltender Matthew Skoff is quick to recognize.
This season, Skoff has led his team to three victories, two draws and one loss. He has stopped 163 shots and allows an average of only 1.96 goals per game.
Even with his impressive play, the junior credits his two 2014-'15 Big Ten weekly honors, the second of which came following this past weekend's performance, to the entire team.
"I think it's indicative of how well the team's playing right now," Skoff said of his third star honor. "The team is playing really well. When individuals on a team have success it's more or less likely because the team is playing really well."
Through the first six games, the Lions have scored 25 goals and allowed only 12. The team is a cumulative plus-35, and 14 different Lions have found the back of the net.
Penn State is clicking.
"I think everyone believes in each other a lot more," explained the goalie. "Everyone came back basically. We are playing well, and I think the reason being is last year we really started picking up at the end of the year."
"Then this year, I think we're kind of rolling into the next season. Right now, we're taking it one game at a time, and it's worked so far. We just have to keep that attitude."
Skoff's team mentality was a driving force in his offseason preparations.
The junior took all the necessary steps to put himself in a position to succeed by both working with the team's strength coach throughout the summer months and by attending an NHL development camp with the San Jose Sharks.
"He obviously put in the work both physically and mentally to be able to play at a very high level out of the gates," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "We're very happy to see that. We're not at all surprised to see it because of how he ended up last year but very happy to see it."
Despite his efforts this summer, Skoff feels there is always room for improvement.
"Every summer I try to prepare the same way, no matter what," the goalie said. "We all had a good summer. A lot of us stayed back here and worked with each other, but I'm not going to say I'm playing outstanding. I can always get better and the same with the team."
Looking forward, Penn State (3-1-2) is ready to take on Bentley (3-2-0) this Thursday.
The game, which comes just four days after their last contest, gives the Lions a limited amount of preparation time. Nevertheless, the Blue and White are on a roll, and they want to keep things moving.
"I think the team's playing well, and I think when you're playing well it's important to get more and more games under your belt," Skoff said. "Hopefully, like I said earlier, we're just going to hopefully keep this rolling because the more and more games you play, the more and more you get comfortable with each other."
Bentley is fresh off an away sweep of Rensselaer, where the team scored a total of nine goals and held RPI to only two.
Even with Penn State's early offensive explosion, the team knows these games will be hard fought.
"I know they score a lot of goals," said Gadowsky. "They don't necessarily pepper the net, but they score a lot of goals. We're scoring quite a few ourselves. I think we're right around four, and they're at 3.8, something like that. They're just behind us. So they score a lot of goals and they just swept RPI at RPI, which is a tough place to play. I know they're playing very well right now."
Knowing Bentley's strengths will help the Lions in their final home series of the fall semester.
"They had some good teams the past couple of years, so we're not going to take them lightly," Skoff said of Bentley. "We're going to treat it like every other game. We're going to come in and do our best to put up a W."
Maryland | Beaver Stadium | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions meet the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday in the first meeting between the schools since 1993, and the first since Maryland joined the Big Ten.
Randy Edsall is in his fourth year leading the Terrapins with a mark of 18-27. Edsall is 92-97 overall in his 16th year as a head coach. Maryland went 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the ACC in 2013. They fell 31-20 against Marshall in the Military Bowl. The Terrapins returned 52 lettermen and 17 starters.
The Terrapins dropped to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play on Saturday, losing 52-7 at Wisconsin. The Maryland offense gained 175 yards, with 129 coming through the air. Quarterback C.J. Brown completed 13-of-29 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Running back Wes Brown gained 22 yards on five carries. Deon Long caught six passes for 59 yards and Stefon Diggs hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass.
The Terrapins allowed 527 total yards, including 311 on the ground and five rushing touchdowns. Safety Sean Davis recorded 17 tackles, including 14 solo, and broke up a pass. Cornerback Jeremiah Johnson made seven stops, six solo, and forced a fumble. Defensive end Andre Monroe added a 10-yard sack.
Maryland ranks fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 31.6 points per game. They also rank ninth in the Big Ten, gaining nearly 374 yards of total offense per contest. They average 137.5 yards rushing and 236 yards passing, ranking 11th and seventh in the conference, respectively.
Brown has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,316 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He also leads the team with 376 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Brown is seventh in the conference in total offense, averaging 211.5 yards per game.
Junior Brandon Ross and sophomore Wes Brown join C.J. Brown in the backfield. Ross, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior, has 257 yards rushing and two touchdowns, gaining 4.4 yards per carry. Ross also has 11 catches for 202 yards and two scores. Wes Brown has recorded 231 yards and three touchdowns. Brown also has 115 yards on 11 receptions. Fullback Kenneth Goins has 41 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Terrapins have a very strong receiving corps, led by junior Stefon Diggs. One of the fastest players in the country, Diggs leads the team with 601 yards and five touchdowns on 46 catches, averaging 13 yards per catch. Diggs has caught a pass in 26 straight games. Senior Deon Long has caught 33 passes for 366 yards and a touchdown. Junior Marcus Leak has 253 yards and three touchdowns on 16 receptions.
The Maryland offensive line includes two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Three linemen have at least 21 career starts.
The Terrapins use a 4-3 style defense, but provide the look of a 3-4 scheme (standing defensive end). They allow 29.2 points and 458.4 total yards per game, ranking 11th and 13th in the Big Ten, respectively. They rank 13th in the conference, giving up 212.4 yards rushing. They are 11th in the league, giving up 246 yards passing. They have forced 14 turnovers this season.
The defensive line is led by end Andre Monroe. The senior has 44 tackles, including eight for loss and 6.5 sacks and has forced a fumble. Fellow end Keith Bowers has recorded 27 tackles, 14 solo, and 2.5 tackles for loss. Tackle Darius Kilgo has made 30 stops, 22 solo, six for loss and two sacks. Kilgo has also recovered three fumbles and blocked a kick.
Cole Farrand, an inside linebacker, leads the unit with 67 tackles, including 35 solo, and four tackles for loss. He has also broken up five passes. Also on the inside is L.A. Goree, who has made 66 stops, 43 solo and two for loss. On the outside, Yannick Ngakoue has a team-leading 10.5 tackles for loss. Ngakoue also has 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Cornerback William Likely leads the Big Ten with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He has 134 total return yards on those four picks. Likely also has 51 tackles this year, nine passes defended, a sack and a forced fumble. Fellow cornerback Jeremiah Johnson has three pass breakups and an interception. Safety Sean Davis leads the team with 75 tackles, 52 solo. He has two tackles for loss and four pass breakups. The other safety, Anthony Nixon, has 34 tackles, an interception and a blocked kick.
Kicker Brad Craddock, a Lou Groza Award candidate, has hit on all 12 attempts this year, including a 57-yarder against Ohio State. Craddock has made 18 straight attempts, dating back to last season. Punter Nathan Renfro averages 41.1 yards per punt and has placed 15 inside the 20-yard-line. Diggs and Likely handle the return duties. Diggs has averaged 25.2 yards per kick return. Likely leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh nationally, averaging 16.3 yards per punt return. Likely returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown against West Virginia.
Penn State is 35-1-1 all-time against Maryland. The schools last met on Oct. 2, 1993, with Penn State winning 70-7.
What Randy Edsall is saying about Penn State:
"They have a tremendous history with their football program over the years. I think it's great to be able to be in the same conference with them, in a bordering state."
"[Hackenberg]'s big, he's strong, and he can make every throw that you want a quarterback to make. He's mobile and able to move around, so when an opportunity does present itself, he can hold the ball down and run."
"I think when you take a look at their defense, it starts with Mike Hull. That guy is all over the place. He is a tremendous football player. He makes a ton of tackles and is a leader for them... They are very strong up the middle and have very good athletes at the other positions."
Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After winning their third consecutive Big Ten title and posting a 24-8 record, the Lady Lions graduated four seniors, leaving them with only one returning starter for 2014-'15.
Enter Tori Waldner.
A senior forward, Waldner is taking over the helm of the Lady Lions' leadership this season, a role that fellow teammate Peyton Whitted believes she has always owned.
"Tori (Waldner) has always been someone we look up to," Whitted said. "I don't think that this year will be any different."
Over the past three seasons, Waldner has seen action in almost every game, starting every game last season. This Lady Lion basketball team is young, but head coach Coquese Washington is looking to Waldner to "balance" her role as a leader along with working on her game.
"She's doing a great job of being vocal without being too focused on other people and not focusing on herself," Washington said. "She's done a great job of leading my example, with effort and communication."
Leading By Example
Waldner's leadership precedes her career in the blue and white. The Milton, Georgia, native was chosen to the All-Region 6AAAAA honors team as a scholastic senior and junior, while earning the 2009 and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year Award. She led her team to a regional championship and berth into the state championship playoffs, making it to the elite eight.
"If I am the only starter coming back, I need four other people with me," Waldner said. "I am willing to do whatever it takes to get everyone ready for the season."
Waldner is a leader off the court, as well. Aside from her contributions in the classroom, she is involved outside of basketball, when time permits. This year she was voted to serve on the homecoming court, an accomplishment she said sparked a desire for her younger teammates to join other clubs and organizations.
"Coach is really into helping us and encouraging us to accomplish things outside of basketball," Waldner said. "She helps us become great women and people, which is important because all of this comes to an end at some point."
The Lady Lions made it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last year, a feat that Waldner contributed to during her efforts during the regular season and postseason. Her experience in tournament play will help leverage her leadership on the court. With the loss of Maggie Lucas, Ariel Edwards, Talia East and Dara Taylor, Waldner has big shoes to fill at the helm of Penn State's offensive and defensive schemes. Last season, she finished fifth on the team in scoring with 155 points (4.8 ppg), 179 rebounds (5.6 rpg) and 32 blocks. She is ranked 10th in program history with blocks per game.
"My experience, being a leader and being vocal is what I hope will help the team," Waldner said. "Coach says I know what I am doing on the court now, helping them and communicating what I am doing will help them adjust to the game."
It was obvious at media day on Monday that both Waldner and Coach Washington are confident in this team, despite how young the group is. With several new pieces on the roster, along with a strong sophomore class, the future looks bright for the Lady Lions.
At practice, Waldner has been lending a hand to helping out with the freshman. Her style of play is something all young players can learn from, as she has had three seasons to develop as a collegiate player.
"Everyone has something special to bring to the court," Waldner said. "When we scrimmage, they show up. They will do the same in the game."
By Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of two weekend victories, the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team marched to an assertive three-set sweep (25-15, 25-22, 25-12) against No. 17 Ohio State on Tuesday evening inside Rec Hall.
"I thought it was a well-played match for us to block as well as we did and everything we did was good tonight," said head coach Russ Rose. "It was a nice thing to have happen at home. It's great to have a nice crowd and the band out on a Tuesday night."
The Nittany Lions came strong out of the gate by earning the first point and maintaining a big lead throughout the initial set. The Lions were on a three-point streak with a score of 18-10 when Ohio State called a time out. The Buckeyes notched a point out of the break, but Penn State pushed ahead and won the set 25-15 with a service ace from senior Nia Grant.
"I thought we came out and played a great first game," said coach Rose. "We hit .650. We didn't have any hitting errors and I think that kind of set the tempo for the match."
Though Penn State had a dominant first set, the team was unable to gain a lead on Ohio State for much of the second set. The Buckeyes had a 7-2 lead and never trailed until the Lions notched a 22-21 lead on an Ohio State service error. The Nittany Lions battled through the adversity in the second set en route to a 25-22 win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
"A lot of times, you're fighting yourself because we contributed to them getting a number of those early points, but when we were down 7-2, I wasn't too concerned other than how they got to seven," said coach Rose. "I thought we were going to score more than two points."
Penn State didn't want to fall behind Ohio State in the third set, so the Lions continued their drive from the previous set. They opened the set with a strong score of 6-2. Ohio State attempted to interrupt the streak, but the Nittany Lions continued their power and finished the third set 25-12 to complete the sweep.
"I think the biggest thing we're trying to focus on is coming out of the game strong and sustaining it," said senior Micha Hancock. "It's nice to have three 3-0 wins in a row. You feel like you're getting tighter with the group and we're getting to a more consistent level, so I really feel like we need to show more energy and I think we've been showing that with our 3-0 wins."
Hancock recorded 31 assists to earn a total of 5,010 all-time assists. She's the sixth player at Penn State to reach 5,000 or more career assists. Hancock also logged a season-high of seven blocks.
"I thought we had great performances tonight from all the hitters," said coach Rose. "We pass the ball well. I thought Micha did a nice job...Micha was good with distributing the ball tonight."
Senior Lacey Fuller also played a key role in the victory, finishing with five digs.
"[Lacey] played hard. Had a couple of good digs," said coach Rose.
With her performance, Fuller had a great time tonight.
"I felt fabulous," said Fuller. "It was amazing. The crowd was great. It was a really good game."
The team will continue to practice for their matchup with the Buckeyes once again on Friday evening, but this time, they have a better idea of what they will be up against.
"It's nice [to play a team] because it's one thing to watch film on a team, but getting to play them, you get more of a feel," said Fuller. "At least for defensive players, you know exactly where they hit the ball and hopefully going into Friday, I'll be more prepared since we just played them."
Even with a sweep, Coach Rose was pleased to earn a victory against a talented Ohio State team.
"They're ranked 17th in the country and they've beaten teams in the top 10 in the country. They're really good. They just didn't have their best outing tonight and we know that and we'll work hard [today] and Thursday and we'll have a tough match on Friday," said Rose.
Penn State will take on the Buckeyes again this Friday at 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio.