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Taking the Lead: Ariel Scott

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When a team prepares to play against Penn State, it makes sure to watch out for the blue and white jersey with the number one on its back.

The girl wearing it stands at around 6-foot-4 and is most dangerously found wading toward the right side of the net.

8264787 (1).jpegShe's got a weighty swing and big block, and she's not afraid to use them.

On the Nittany Lion roster, she's listed with the name 'Ariel Scott'. But her coaches and her teammates like to shorten her first name to just one letter, making her more commonly known around State College as just 'A. Scott'.

The junior right side hitter has become a stronghold for the Penn State offense and a silent leader on the court this season. As a co-captain, Scott has taken on the role of being one of the most reliable athletes in the starting rotation.

"I think she's a very intimidating player," said teammate and fellow junior Deja McClendon. "She's a tremendous presence. She hits a heavy ball and I think that when people see that, they're afraid. I think she's done a really good job of being a leader."

Scott has been able to draw attention to herself on defense as well, stepping up at the net and fronting 74 total blocks this season. That number is third-best on the Penn State roster behind only her two middle blockers, Katie Slay and Nia Grant.

"She's a threat in the front-row and the back-row so they have to be worried about her all the time," McClendon said of her team's opponents facing Scott. "That opens up the door for other players. She allows the middles to have one-on-ones and allows me to have one-on-ones and that helps in so many aspects."

The Ridgewood, New Jersey native has shined throughout all 95 sets she has played this season, tallying a team-high 346 kills on 3.64 kills per set.

So what sparked such high-level performances this year compared to last?

"I think more experience has definitely been helping me," said Scott. "My freshman year I didn't play all that much and last year was my first year that I was on the court full-time so I think the swing my second season definitely helped me a lot."

Alongside former talents of Blair Brown, Arielle Wilson and Fatima Balza, Scott's talent did not fully come to the forefront until this season. Now, the junior says that instead of relying on one or two people to generate offense, she and the Lions tend to share the wealth.

"I think this year, especially, we've been really good at scoring from all positions," said Scott. "The middles are doing really well, [Megan Courtney]'s doing really well, Deja is also good at scoring too so it definitely helps to have an all-around team."

And while Scott said that she appreciates her teammates for their offensive output, her teammates are thankful that she is as calm, cool and collected as she continues to be.

"I think she's really mellow and I really like that about her," said McClendon. "She's never too crazy or too low so I think she keeps us grounded. We need that."

The veteran knows what it is like to win a national title and what it's like to finish just shy of one.  With just four matches left in the regular season, Scott said that the Lions are doing everything that they can to keep pressing and keep challenging their opponents one at a time. 

"We have Big Tens and we're finishing Big Tens soon but that's not our final goal," said Scott. "Our final goal is a national championship so we're going to keep working harder for that." 

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