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Penrose Shines in Nittany Lion Opener

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By Will Desautelle GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Jalen Penrose debuts at a new position to help the Nittany Lions overcome a slow start to defeat Mount Olive in four sets in its 2018 season opener at home in Rec Hall.  Read More

Penrose Shines in Nittany Lion Opener

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By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defeated the Mount Olive Trojans in its first match of the season Friday night at Rec Hall, overcoming a first set loss to win in four sets (23-25, 25-19, 25-12, 25-14).

Head coach Mark Pavlik was impressed with the energy and confidence that the Trojans played with to start off the match, but the Nittany Lions did themselves no favors by committing eight service errors, which was the difference.

"We gave them 14 points, so they only had to score 11," Pavlik said. "Throughout my career we've seen this scenario happen where decided underdogs come in, but they are senior laden, and they've been here before. There was no real intimidation factor for them. The tighter it got the more they loosened up."

Penn State made key adjustments from that point, making a concerted effort to establish their two middles in Jalen Penrose and Kevin Gear. Penrose finished with 10 kills (.615 hitting percentage), two blocks, and four aces in his first career match as a middle blocker. Gear, on the other hand, was steady with eight kills (.462 hitting percentage) and three blocks.

"We passed well throughout the whole game, which allowed us to run the middle and make them commit on us a lot," Penrose said. "That opened it up for the pins to do what they do best and just swing away."

Penrose, a redshirt senior, was moved to middle blocker this season after spending his first four years in the program as a right side, looking remarkably comfortable for someone who has never played a match at that position. 

"It's not an easy adjustment but having these guys behind me and having faith in me has been the backbone of my success," Penrose said. "There is not really any one thing that I like more about it than opposite, but it's my role and I'm just going to control what I can control and do the best I can."

Penrose's efficiency in the middle paved the way for sophomore right side hitter Calvin Mende, who finished with 15 kills and hit .667 for the match.

"Having the middles have such a dominant performance in the first game made their middles commit to ours earlier in the next set, which gave us one on one opportunities and just made it a lot simpler for us the rest of the way," Mende said. 

Mende also commented on Penrose's performance in the middle and was impressed with the way he played in his debut.

"Off his first swing of the game, I don't know if I've seen someone hit that hard in a while," Mende said. "You see the immense potential there is and when he capitalizes on it, our whole team just gets filled with energy. To see him swing like that and serve like that is something that he really brings to the table."

"He was plus nine for the match," Pavlik said. "That's what we need from the guys on the court. Score more points for the guys wearing the same uniform you are and you're going to be pretty good. I think we were able to use the strengths that Jalen brings to the court and use them in more advantageous situations." 

Outside of Penrose and Gear, one of the other critical differences in Penn State's turnaround after set one was the service line. After committing eight errors in the opening frame, the Nittany Lions served aggressively and were much cleaner from behind the line, compiling eight aces in the final three sets. 

"We just got in a rhythm, starting doing our routines back there and doing what we do in practice," Mende said. "In the first set we had some jitters but after that we just settled into it."

"I don't think there was any type of panic or doubt, we just knew at some point we were going to start to roll," Pavlik said. "We kept the ball on the court more starting in game two and all of the sudden our size and athleticism started to work for us."

For Pavlik, his team still has a long way to go, despite taking a lot of positives from Friday night's opener. The good news though, is that they have time to get there.

The Nittany Lions will be back at Rec Hall on Saturday night for a match against Alderson-Broaddus at 7 p.m. 

Duo Key in Ohio State Win

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By Andy Kuros GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a game where the Buckeyes outshot the Nittany Lions by 11, it was sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones who was the difference maker. Jones wasn't the only Nittany Lion to play perhaps his best hockey of the season Friday night though.  Read More

Duo Key in Ohio State Win

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 13 Penn State defeated No. 6 Ohio State, 5-2, in front of a packed Pegula Ice Arena to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games.

In a game where the Buckeyes outshot the Nittany Lions by 11, it was sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones who was the difference maker.

Jones recorded a season high 45 saves and played a crucial role in Penn State snapping Ohio State's six game win streak.

"If we didn't have Peyton (Jones) it could've been a long night for us," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This was a really big win but it doesn't happen without Peyton."

Jones stopped 20 shots in the second period, setting a career high for saves in a single period. 

"Peyton Jones was just tremendous," Gadowsky said. "He made ridiculous saves and he made a lot of them. I can't say enough about him."

With his stellar performance, Jones improves his record to 12-5-2 on the season.

"I just go out there and do everything I can to stop the puck," Jones said.

Jones wasn't the only Nittany Lion to play perhaps his best hockey of the season Friday night. Freshman forward Evan Barratt gave the Nittany Lions a spark offensively, scoring two goals to go along with an assist.

Barratt tallied both his sixth and seventh goals of the season to set a career high mark with three points.

Barratt credited his performance  to his teammates, noting he's finding confidence within the program.

"As a freshman, you definitely get more comfortable as the year goes on," Barratt said. "Playing with these guys for a couple weeks now has helped me with my confidence a lot."

For Gadowsky, he has noticed Barratt's growing confidence throughout the season.

"As he gets more games under his belt, you can he see he is getting more comfortable," Gadowsky said. He certainly looks more comfortable not only with the puck, but also in the faceoff circle, and that's been a big jump for him."

Like Barratt, the Nittany Lions seem to be catching fire at the right time. Penn State is now tied for second place in the Big Ten with their win against Ohio State.

With another game in the series still remaining, Gadowsky and the team are well aware that there's no time to exhale.

 "It took us a while, but we got back to our roots," Gadowsky said. "We can't take (success) for granted, and we need to continue to work really hard."

For Jones, the result of that hard work is finally coming together as a unit.  

"With six freshmen coming in all while losing some guys from last year who were the leaders of this program, it was tough," Jones said. "But we've had other guys step up and fill the holes, and we got on a roll."  

Penn State looks to complete the series sweep against Ohio State Saturday night at 7p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena.

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's officially indoor track season for the Nittany Lions as they head into their first meet of the season this weekend. Although it's only the beginning, the women's track and field team is looking to accomplish big things this season.  Read More

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's officially indoor track season for the Nittany Lions as they head into their first meet of the season this weekend. Although it's only the beginning, the women's track and field team is looking to accomplish big things this season.

 

The women's team is reigning Indoor Big Ten Champions, as they won the conference last season at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The women are looking for nothing less than a repeat of that this year.

 

"This season I think the ultimate goal for our team is to go defend our Indoor Big Ten Championship. I think that we have a really good chance to do that this year with the people that are returning from last year and also our incoming freshman class," senior pole vaulter Hannah Mulhern said.

 

Although winning the indoor championship meet last year was great, the women say that winning the Indoor Big Ten again would be even sweeter if they did so alongside the men's team.

 

"It would be even more special if we did it on the same day as the boys because it was really cool that they won outdoors (Big Tens) and we won indoors (Big Tens). It'd be better if we all did it on the same day, I think that would be a major team goal," senior high jumper Megan McCloskey said.

 

Winning the Indoor Big Ten Championship is the ultimate goal for the women's team this year, but so is maintaining a great team atmosphere as the seniors prepare for their last indoor season.

 

"As a team, we're going to try to obviously go after the Big Ten Championship, we'd love to do that indoors and outdoors and at the same time as the boys would be awesome. I think just creating a really good team atmosphere this season. We have a lot of great talent and it would just be great to bring us all together and have really great team unity," senior sprinter Rachael DeCecco.

 

This indoor season, the women are traveling more than they are used to, and earlier on than usual. They travel to Clemson next weekend for their second meet of the season as the compete at the Clemson Invitational. The women say traveling this early will only benefit them more going into championship season in late February.

 

"I definitely think it's going to benefit us. I think it's exciting to get on the road early in the season. The benefits of that is really understanding what it feels like to travel and to not be at our home facility. We are pretty lucky to have a lot of meets at our home track, so it's good to get used to being at other tracks," McCloskey said. "The most important part is to get out of our comfort zones, so when Big Tens rolls around we will already know what it's like to be at away meets."

 

"I think that traveling a little bit more is really going to help us out. It really helps for us to get experience on the road early," Mulhern added. "I know in the past we haven't traveled as much, and our coaches think that may have affected us at the Big Ten Championship, so they're trying to get us out and traveling a little to get exposed to different facilities and competing against different people."

 

The Nittany Lions will also travel to the Spire Institute, where Big Tens are held, earlier in the season to get a feel of the environment there.

 

"Going to Spire for a meet will be great because that's where Big Tens is held, so we get a feel for the track meet atmosphere and to prepare a couple weeks before Big Tens," DeCecco said.

 

Even though clinching the Big Ten title is the main intention of the women this season, for the seniors, so is making it memorable.

 

"With it being my last season, you never know what the season is going to hold for you. I definitely just want to make this last season one to remember with my teammates," Mulhern said.

By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a stellar new coach, a Big Ten Freshman of the Week, and a win to knock out their first win of the season, the Nittany Lions have reason to feel confident as they prepare for their upcoming meet against Nebraska, the first meet of their Big Ten slate.  Read More

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By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a stellar new coach, a Big Ten Freshman of the Week, and a win to knock out their first win of the season, the Nittany Lions have reason to feel confident as they prepare for their upcoming meet against Nebraska, the first meet of their Big Ten slate.

 

This past weekend marked newly-hired Penn State head coach Sarah Brown's first meet of the season with the gymnasts. However, the former Mizzou gymnast and Eastern Michigan head coach has been hard at work with the team since she first stepped foot in State College last May. As the Nittany Lions gear up to take on the Huskers in Rec Hall this Saturday to kick off the Big Ten competition, Brown feels ready to get the home season going. 

 

"My goal when I got here was really to understand the girls' personalities," Brown said. "I really feel like we've spent the last eight months doing that. I definitely know that I'm doing things differently than they have been done in the past, and so getting that trust and buy-in has been huge, and we're all moving at the same pace and the same direction now."

 

Despite falling to Nebraska last season on the road, the combination of a new coaching staff, some new faces on the team, and a first meet win leaves Brown feeling confident.

 

"The first meet was a really solid starting point for us.  We had some mistakes early on in the line ups, but I was proud of how well we recovered," Brown said.  "Now we know we can make the routines, and moving forward we're focusing in on the little details and making sure we're looking at each routine piece by piece."

 

Most recently, new face Lauren Bridgens was honored Big Ten Freshman of the Week after contributing largely to the squad's 194.275-192.900 win over Eastern Michigan last weekend.

 

"It's really exciting for the program that we're already being recognized on that level," Brown said. "It's a starting point, I know if you ask Lauren she knows she has more in her, so I think she's proud of the accomplishment, I'm very proud of her, and I know she's going to continue to get better as the season goes on."

 

The freshman from Maryland agreed that the team can only go up from here.

 

""Now's the time to start focusing on the smaller details," Bridgens said. "I think for our first meet we were focused on getting out there and knowing what it's like to compete together."

 

Senior Brianna Tsang, a familiar face and renowned Nittany Lion gymnast, looks forward to what's to come after a winning all-around score of 39.050 with freshmen teammate Bridgens.

 

"I thought we had a really good team dynamic already going into the season," Tsang said. "Having the first meet was super exciting, we didn't get the chance to have a full intrasquad in Rec hall before this, and the freshmen did really well with that."

 

In addition to kicking off the Big Ten slate, this weekend's meet will be titled Throwback Alumni Night, where the team will welcome gymnastics alumni back to the floor. In addition, the meet will be combined with the Flip for the Cure competition, which focuses on honoring those who have survived and are battling breast cancer.

 

The gymnasts will don new black and pink leotards, marked in the school's original colors, complete with a throwback logo. Following the meet will be an alumni reception, where coach Brown and some of the athletes are excited to converse with and get to know the alumni one-on-one.

 

"This weekend is huge for me, because it's an opportunity for the alumni to be here and be part of the program again," Brown said. "It's very important to me that the athletes recognize who came before them and how everything was paved before we got here, so we owe these alumni so much and we're so thankful that they're willing to come back."

 

No. 17 Penn State opens Big Ten action on Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. in Rec Hall.

Penn State Looking Toward BJC Return

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By Arielle Sargent GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is back in a bit of an unfamiliar place, preparing to return home from a bitter road loss to regroup. Although pleased with the progress and the high points along the way, it's clear to Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers that it's once again, time to respond.  Read More

Penn State Looking Toward BJC Return

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is back in a bit of a familiar place, preparing to return home from a bitter road loss to regroup. Although pleased with the progress and the high points along the way, it's clear to Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers that it's once again, time to respond. 

"It's a new day, we've got to get better today," Chambers said. "We were a little out of sync and that's okay. We'll watch film, we'll come back to work, get in practice with those different lineups that we now have and try to get those lineups better."

On the heels of its third Big Ten loss by six points or less, Chambers hasn't lost sight of the path, opting to take small steps forward instead of casting focus too far ahead.

"I always feel like we're right there and then we always get a little shot of adversity and then you've got to punch right back, you've got to come back and handle it, make your tweaks and adjustments," Chambers said. "We are thisclose to being able to handle the next obstacle, the next adversity and getting on a run. I really believe that." 

Since resuming conference play, the Nittany Lions bounced back from a road loss at Maryland with a defining 78-63 win against Northwestern last weekend in front of an energized crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Looking to build off the momentum, the Nittany Lions entered a notoriously hostile environment on the road Tuesday night at Indiana, falling short in a comeback attempt. 

"Our offense did not look anything like it did on Friday," Chambers said reflecting on the loss to the Hoosiers. "We need to play more consistent on the road and if we can bottle up that energy and that effort that we played with last Friday night, we'll find success."

Road-woes aside, for Chambers it all comes back to a familiar phrase - mental conditioning. It's all encompassing too, from desire and energy to discipline and focus, it's something that Chambers has yet to consistently see from the Nittany Lions.

"It's fighting through when you're tired, it's fighting through when you're not shooting well, it's fighting through when the team's going on a run," Chambers said. "It's fighting through, handling obstacles and adversity and sticking together, especially on the road when their fans are going crazy. That's when you've got to fight and stick together the most."

There's still nearly 10 days before Penn State heads back on the road, providing back-to-back opportunities for the Nittany Lions to get back on track in front of a growing home crowd. With students returning to their usual spots in the stands led by the Legion of Blue, there's plenty to look forward to.

"The Legion of Blue has been awesome," Chambers said. "I've actually gotten to know them really well and that's been a great relationship for me. When they get here and when the students come it's awesome and we have a great atmosphere." 

In Penn State's last Bryce Jordan Center outing, the Nittany Lions were confident in the win against the Wildcats, powered by a career-high 30-point outing from sophomore Lamar Stevens. With at least 20 points in the last two games, consistency from Stevens is key for the Nittany Lions. 

"When he's fresh, he's in stances, he's doing a good job," Chambers said. "I'd like to see him rebound a little bit more but just the mental conditioning. It's that aspect of the game when he's hitting that 34-35-minute mark, he's got to really punch through for us."

The Nittany Lions host Nebraska Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. At 12-6 on the year, the Huskers are 3-2 in the Big Ten coming off of a 63-59 win against Wisconsin on Tuesday.

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