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A Team Effort Nabs Two More Conference Victories

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The third-ranked Nittany Lions returned home for the first time in two weeks and made the most of it by grabbing two more Big Ten wins.

Penn State defeated No. 10 Minnesota in four sets on Friday night in Rec Hall and continued to dominate on Sunday with a sweep of Wisconsin.

8058501.jpegIt was a team effort all-around as six Lions recorded more than 10 kills, four had more than 10 digs and combined the squad tallied 17 service aces.

Junior outside hitter Ariel Scott had a standout weekend with 20 kills against Minnesota and another 14 against Wisconsin for a total of 34 kills on the weekend. She said that she and her sophomore setter Micha Hancock have been working on solidifying their connection on the court, and she was happy that it improved in two crucial conference outings.

"Just between the two of us in the past we've had some communication problems just because we're on the some side of the court," said Scott. "We're really working on working that out and I think, especially at this point in the season, it's beneficial to the whole team."

Service errors and inconsistent passing have plagued the Lions in recent matches and has been a sticking point for the team thus far. But Penn State passed well out of the back-row and kept their serves between the white lines during both matches, suffering a total of just 17 service errors in the two contests.

Junior middle hitter Katie Slay attributed the solid play to her team's ability to communicate well and really concentrate on playing good volleyball from start to finish.

"We just have to come out and play to our level on our side of the net and that's really what we have to focus on," said Slay. "Coming out of the gate we have to start strong."

Slay is not only a returning All-American but also a team captain this season. She said that she constantly reminds her teammates to keep pushing their limits and work on themselves before they worry about their opponents.

"In the home stretch we really have to focus on our side of the net," said Slay. "I know we say that a lot but it's super important because you have to have a certain level of expectation so you know what you're going to bring out on the floor."

At 12-1 in the conference with just five matches left to play in the regular season, the Lions sit atop the Big Ten leader board with a two-game advantage over their next closest competitor. The Penn State women's volleyball program has claimed the Big Ten conference crown in 14 of the last 20 seasons.

Rose said that while he acknowledges the conference success of the program over the past couple of decades, he hopes that his team's outcome this season will be determined by their own will to compete rather than its assumed expectation.

"These guys should want to win because they want to win," said Rose. "You've got to have your eyes going forward and play it out and go hard. It's been a great fall."

Penn State controls its own destiny.

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