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May 2017 Archives

Historic Season Ends in NCAA Semifinals

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By Arielle Sargent,

FOXBORO, Mass. - Penn State's historic 2017 season ends in its second straight trip to the NCAA national semifinals, with a bitter loss to top-seeded Maryland.  Read More

Historic Season Ends in NCAA Semifinals

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FOXBORO, Mass. - A bitter loss in the NCAA national semifinals isn't the type of ending that anyone would want to close out a season, a historic one nonetheless.

Perhaps more than the sting of the loss or the sight of the scoreboard though, is the character and determination of those who were instrumental in making it all happen.

"It definitely didn't go our way today," head coach Missy Doherty said, reflecting on a 20-10 NCAA semifinal loss to top-seeded Maryland. "I'm so proud of our players to get us here and the season that we had was just awesome."

Penn State shot out to a 7-0 start to open the year, with a trio of wins coming against top 20 teams. By Big Ten time, the Nittany Lions went 5-1 with their only conference loss coming by way of a close 16-14 setback against the Terps, merely weeks ago.

As the NCAA postseason arrived, Penn State had reset from a loss in the Big Ten Tournament, scoring an NCAA Tournament-record 19 goals against JMU in the second round. The Nittany Lions then gritted out a 14-12 win against Princeton in the quarterfinals to earn a repeat trip to the NCAA national semifinals, marking the first time PSU has made back-to-back appearances in nearly 30 years.

As the wins continued to stack up, a new Nittany Lion emerged with a career day, or key contribution on seemingly every occasion, only helping to bolster Penn State's final tally in the win column to 17, marking the most victories in a single season since 1989.

Embedded in the foundation of every successful season though is the character of a team's veteran leaders, something the Nittany Lions surely have no shortage of this year.

"When you first take over a program, you want the players to buy into what you maybe can do, and then as soon as you start doing those things you're able to recruit with what's going on at the current time," Doherty said.

With both buy in and production as the result of the now senior class, for Doherty, the class embraced the vision and then set out to make it a reality.

"To see all of those guys really contribute greatly both on and off the field has been a huge reason why we're in these matches and in the mix," Doherty said. 

For First Team IWLCA All-American senior Steph Lazo, each opportunity to make strides toward the vision has been a point of reflection all week.

"Our first year we lose in the first round," Lazo said. "Second year, my sophomore year, we were Big Ten champs. And then last year we go to the final four, this year we go to the final four."

Perhaps one of the most prolific seniors in Nittany Lion history, Lazo concluded her final game in the Blue and White with a pair of points against the Terrapins, scooping up her own rebound for a lone goal in the second half. She ends her career ranked seventh on the Penn State all-time list with 211 points.

Along with fellow seniors in defenders Abby Smucker and Erika Spilker as well as goalkeeper Cat Rainone just to name a few, it's the entire senior class responsible for paving the way. 

"I told them, I'm like, you have to keep knocking on the door before you can go through it, and we don't do that without the leadership of our seniors," Doherty said.

Although leaving behind a proud legacy both on and off the field, for Lazo, what's still to come for Penn State is certainly promising.

"We have fought all season ever since we stepped on campus in August, the future looks super bright, and I couldn't be more proud," Lazo said. 

Among a deep group of returners, Penn State sophomore Madison Carter and juniors Katie O'Donnell and Maggie Gallagher highlighted Friday's NCAA national semifinal outing. O'Donnell led the way with four goals while Gallagher finished with three to match a career-high mark.

Carter chipped in one goal and grabbed seven draw controls, etching her name into the Penn State record book as the fourth Nittany Lion in program history to score 70 or more goals in a single season.

Drawing from the positives from a year for the ages, the Nittany Lions will look to take the good with the bad today, but certainly there's every reason to head home to Happy Valley proud. 

"I love our players, and I love being part of the group, not just on the field but off the field," Doherty said. "They're great students, and they're great people, and they have such great character. I just want the best for them."

Reach Arielle Sargent at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Nittany Lions Arrive in Boston

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State women's lacrosse is officially on location, with Wednesday's travel day seeing the Nittany Lions arrive safe and sound in Boston ahead of Friday's NCAA national semifinal matchup at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxboro.  Read More

Nittany Lions Arrive in Boston

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BOSTON - Penn State women's lacrosse is officially on location, with Wednesday's travel day seeing the Nittany Lions arrive safe and sound in Boston ahead of Friday's NCAA national semifinal matchup at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxboro. 

Surrounded by Penn State coaches, staff and student-athletes, the Nittany Lions departed East Area Locker Room around 2 p.m. only to be met with the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd, sending the group off to the airport in style. 

Penn State flew charter to Bedford, Massachusetts before hopping on the bus to arrive at the hotel, situated right in the heart of the city.

Earlier this week, head coach Missy Doherty as well as Nittany Lions Erika Spilker, Madison Carter and Maggie Gallagher all met with the media to preview Penn State second consecutive trip to the NCAA national semifinals.

Making a back-to-back appearance in the final field of four remaining teams for the first time in nearly 30 years, Penn State is battle tested and poised to make the most out of this year's opportunity. 

Penn State punched its ticket to the NCAA national semifinals with a tough 14-12 win against Princeton last weekend in the NCAA quarterfinals. For Doherty though, grinding out a gutsy NCAA Tournament win against the Tigers, having to embrace the feeling of both emotional and physical levels of the tight game is tremendous preparation headed into Friday evening.

Friday's matchup presents a familiar challenge as the fifth-seeded Nittany Lions prep for top-seeded Maryland, a perennial NCAA national semifinal contender having made it in each of the last nine consecutive season.

During the regular season matchup it was the Terps who pulled away in the second half for a 16-14 win. Regular season familiarity though, isn't something that Doherty considers as giving the Nittany Lions a major advantage. 

"I think when you get into that situation, you can see it in the tournament this year, everybody is beating everybody, you never know which game so you really have to be focused on yourself," Doherty said. "Regardless of who we are playing, we need to be ready to play but it's always exciting, we know the tradition of Maryland and we're certainly ready to bring our best and establish our own traditions." 

Penn State is well underway in establishing those traditions with Madison Carter topping the Nittany Lion sophomore single-season record list with 69 goals to surpass a record last set in 1983. Carter's tally is second to junior Katie O'Donnell, who has 61 on the year and senior Steph Lazo, ranked third on the squad with 45 goals. 

Perhaps what's made Penn State so exciting to watch this year though, is in the element of surprise, with new Nittany Lions stepping up with major contributions in at clutch moments.

Particularly evident in last week's win, freshman Maria Auth highlighted the outing with a career-day, scoring four goals to go along with an assist. 

"She played fearless and came in and made huge plays and I'm so happy for her that she stepped up for the team," Doherty said. "That's what this championship journey is all about, that next person being ready to step up." 

Looking toward Maryland, Doherty noted postgame last week that Princeton and the Terps have similarities in that that they too have a plethora of offensive options. 

"Maryland has a lot of scorers it is their strength and certainly approach is more of a team approach it can't be one person stopping one girl on that team, it has to be really everybody keyed into what's going on," Doherty said. 

With the top-ranked scoring offense nationally, Maryland is averaging 16.96 goals per game.

Draw controls will also be key for the Nittany Lions, as Carter also noted postgame last week that possession is key to generating offensive opportunities.

"It's definitely going to be a battle, Maryland is really great at getting the draw too so it's going to be a grind out there," Carter said.  

Outside of Maryland though, Penn State is also making time to savor the moment along the way.

"Like Missy said, it's all about being in the moment and kind of taking in every experience," Spilker said. "We have the banquet, we have pregame practices and those kinds of things, so it's just taking in every moment, getting excited for that and then moving on to the game and being in the moment there."

Fourth-seeded Penn State and top-seeded Maryland meet Friday at 5 p.m. in Gillette Stadium, with the matchup streaming live on ESPN3.

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Set for NCAA Championships

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men's golf turns it focus toward Sugar Grove, Illinois for the upcoming NCAA Championships.  Read More

Lions Set for NCAA Championships

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a top five finish at the NCAA Washington Regional, Penn State men's golf is headed to Sugar Grove, Illinois for the 2017 NCAA Championships.

Advancing past the regional round for the first time since 2010, the Nittany Lions are making their fifth appearance at the NCAA Championships under the direction of head coach Greg Nye.

"I think we're really starting to peak as a team and everyone's game is kind of coming into place and this last tournament kind of showed that," junior Cole Miller said.

Miller is coming off of his fifth individual title of the year, having captured the individual championship at the Washington regional at 7-under. Freshman Ryan Davis also stepped up for an eighth-place finish, concluding the event at 1-under.

Miller, a second team All-Big Ten honoree, and sophomore Charles Huntzinger, a unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection were the only two Nittany Lions with NCAA regionals experience headed into the event, which has now provided a wealth of youth on the roster with valuable postseason familiarity.

"You have to be able to play well to get through and to be able to play well as a team and make it through as a team is just the greatest thing," Miller said. "I've had a smile on my face ever since we've got through and it's been amazing. To be able to share it with teammates makes it all the more better." 

The Nittany Lions now turn their focus toward navigating the course at Rich Harvest Farms, home to Northern Illinois' men's and women's golf squads. Having never competed on the course as a team, Penn State head coach Greg Nye has relied on a variety of reports from those who have, but still a bit of uncertainty remains.

"We talked a bit about when we don't hit it perfect, what's our approach going to be on this golf course that looks like it's going to be, in the numbers, very penal, so we have to be very smart about how we go about taking on targets out in Chicago," Penn State head coach Greg Nye said.

A welcome report though comes from Huntzinger, the only Nittany Lion who has played the course, having competed at the Western Amateur Championship a few years ago prior to Penn State.

"It's definitely one of the nicer courses I've played, it's a very difficult course," Huntzinger said. "Being able to compare that golf course with some of the ones we've played this year, seeing how we've played, comparing notes, I think we're in a good spot and we're looking forward to it."

For both Miller and Huntzinger though, regardless of the course, it all comes down to the work that goes in before Friday arrives.

"We're kind of the fighter team, with balancing with everything on the course, as long as you're prepared, usually just about any golf course you'll be able to handle so from there on it's just preparation work," Miller said. "You have to study the course really well."

Freshman Alec Bard will have a different kind of familiarity come Friday, as he and his brother Derek Bard, will be the only set of siblings squaring off in the upcoming NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove. Derek, a senior a Virginia, helped UVA to a fourth-place finish at the Baton Rouge Regional with a 12th-place finish. 

"It's his last college tournament ever so for us to be able to qualify and for this to be the one chance we'll play in the same tournament, our family is definitely excited," Alec said. 

The NCAA Championships format consists of three days of stroke play, spanning 54 holes from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28 featuring 30 teams and six individuals. Monday will feature a final day of 18-hole stroke play narrowed down to 15 teams and nine individuals, with eight teams advancing to match play. 

Match play features two rounds to crown a 72-hole individual NCAA national champion, with the team national champion field determined by a match play quarterfinal and semifinal round Tuesday, May 30, with finals closing out the event on Wednesday, May 31.

Lions Battle to NCAA Semifinal Spot

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Nittany Lions Maria Auth and Cat Rainone lift Penn State to its second straight NCAA national semifinal appearance, battling to a 14-12 win against Princeton.  Read More

Lions Battle to NCAA Semifinal Spot

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's lacrosse head coach Missy Doherty has known since the beginning of fall that the 2017 Nittany Lions were a special group. Sunday's NCAA quarterfinal matchup only continued to prove the feeling as fourth-seeded Penn State gritted out a gutsy 14-12 win against fifth-seeded Princeton.

"It was a battle, but we've really been battling all season long," Doherty said. "I love games like that. I loved the game today. Obviously you always want to come out of it with a victory, but just to have a battle -  that's what they prepare for, that's why they work in the offseason, to face games like this where they're tested all game long." 

Through the entire outing, there wasn't a shortage in testing opportunities, as both Penn State and Princeton traded goals to keep each squad on their toes with no more than a two-goal lead.

Freshman Maria Auth sparked early momentum for the Nittany Lions, registering three goals in the opening half of the first frame.

"That was probably the best feeling I've ever experienced," Auth said. "I've never experienced anything like that, but it was a credit to my teammates getting open, helping me out with clearing through, I couldn't have scored those goals without them."

Auth, who had scored 13 goals through 17 games with one start prior to the matchup, wasn't finished though.

With Penn State trailing by one in the second half with less than six minutes to play, it was Auth again, with her fourth goal of the game to tie the score, 12-12.

In a career-high performance, Auth led the team with five points, adding one assist to a team-high four goals.

"She's a great individual attacker and through the course of the season, especially later in the season, she really became a great team attacker - started to know where to move the ball, know how people are working and mixing in that great individual talent," Doherty said. "You could really see that today."

Sophomore Kayla Brisolari responded minutes after Auth's tally with the game-winning go-ahead goal on the free position.

"She looked over to see if we wanted to work the ball but it was a tie game at that point and I was like, if you want to take it, take it, because we need a goal and she did a great job of getting in and putting that shot away," Doherty said.

Penn State closed out its longest scoring stretch with a Katie O'Donnell goal to regain the two-goal advantage, 14-12, with less than two minutes remaining. 

The Nittany Lions owned the lead on the draw in the second half, with sophomore Madison Carter finishing with 12 draw controls on the day, in addition to three goals.

"It provides a lot of momentum, you need the ball to be able to do things on offense," Carter said. "The girls on the line were coming and helping out, the girls in the circle were boxing out and we were just able to come up with those possessions which was great and really kept the momentum going." 

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Princeton only dialed up the pressure, peppering the Nittany Lions with shot after shot.

It was senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone who proved poised under pressure though, coming up with a pair of critical late saves, denying IWLCA First Team All-American Olivia Hompe on a wide open attempt in the final seconds to lock up the win. 

"That last save she had there at the end I was like stop jumping, stop jumping, we've still got eight seconds on the clock," laughed O'Donnell. "She played great today and she had some great momentum saves and really kept us going and kept our energy up and we were able to build off of that and take it into the offensive end." 

For Doherty, the last save was simply signature Rainone at her best.

"She's a goalie who just grinds it out, grinds it out, grinds it out, and when we're at practice and it's a competitive thing, that's when she plays her best," Doherty said. "To see their top scorer come in and just take a shot wide open and her to come up with a huge save, I'm just so proud of her." 

With the victory, the Nittany Lions are set for their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA national semifinals, slated to meet top-seeded Maryland Friday, May 26 at 5 p.m. in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium). 

"We're excited," Doherty said. "Our goal is to do our best every single game and certainly going against Maryland you need to be ready to be on top of things. We have things to grow from, from our last game with them but it's always a great matchup when we play them."

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Focused on NCAA Quarterfinals

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State turns its focus internal ahead of its fifth NCAA quarterfinals appearance in the last six years.  Read More

Lions Focused on NCAA Quarterfinals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ahead of its fifth NCAA quarterfinals appearance in the last six years, fourth-seeded Penn State women's lacrosse is set to host Princeton Sunday afternoon in the final matchup of the year at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

"We're so excited about our win from last weekend and knowing we have Princeton coming up, we know we have a lot things we need to work on to make sure that we play our best game Sunday," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think the girls are really driven by that, we've recognized the things that we need to make sure we get better and they've been really diligent in practice so far in making sure they are working on those things."

It has been an all-in mentality for the Nittany Lions since the very start of the 2017 season, one that guided by stead leadership, has resulted in calm composure amidst not only challenges, but uncontrollable changes too. 

"I don't think we'll face anything for the rest of our season that we haven't faced already, in the regular season, Big Ten's or games we've been in," Doherty said. "That grind of competing for 60 minutes, there has been a different element this year with the 90-second shot clock so there's no more stalling, no more really long possessions."

With the introduction of an entirely new element in the 90-second shot clock, as Doherty puts it, anything can happen and any one team can always be in the mix, something that the Nittany Lions have simply embraced.

From shot clocks to the usual ups and downs and shifts in momentum, perhaps what's proven to keep the Nittany Lions calm under pressure comes from an unparalleled focus on what's internal.

"First half on Sunday, we played really well offensively and defensively, but more so on the offensive end," IWLCA First Team All-American Steph Lazo said. "We were a huge power house, we were up 8-1 at one point because we were playing our game, we were focused on what we were doing and we didn't let any of the outside stuff kind of play into that."

For senior three-time captain Erika Spilker, that type of composure is different from any team she's ever been a part of. 

"We don't get rattled," Spilker said. "If one thing goes wrong, it's not the end of the world, and that goes with the leadership. Because we're all pretty confident in ourselves personally and each other, it helps with the composure because if one thing goes wrong, we're going to learn from it and move forward."

Coming off of its highest scoring performance in an NCAA Tournament round two win against JMU that put the Penn State composure to the test last weekend, Penn State will look to keep it rolling, headed into yet another win or go home matchup.

That's nothing the Nittany Lions aren't used to though, coming off of last year's berth to the NCAA national semifinals.

"I think it definitely helps that we made it last year," Lazo said. "We all kind of remember that feeling of working hard to get to the final four and we want nothing less than that. We're super focused, we're ready to go and ready to play on Sunday."

As Doherty noted last weekend though, there are no easy games when it comes to NCAA Tournament time, as Princeton brings a new set of challenges when it comes to pregame preparations.

"Their scoring is pretty spread out amongst a lot of different people," Doherty said. "They make it really challenging just to pick one or two people." "They come down hard in transition, they're fast. We need to be ready to stop their offensive break."

Atop Princeton's potential scoring threats is Olivia Hompe, an IWLCA First Team All-American who was also named the 2017 Ivy League Attacker of the Year. Leading the team with a program single season record-setting 107 points, Hompe has accounted for 72 goals and 35 assists through 18 games, averaging a national-best 4.00 goals per game.

"Every time we play them every year, it's always just a gritty match," Doherty said.

Penn State and Princeton have already met in the regular season, with the Nittany Lions earning a 13-8 win on the road, but the two teams are also fairly familiar postseason opponents. Most recently, it was Princeton knocking off Penn State in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Virginia.

That's in the past though, as Penn State looks toward another successful week of practice before putting it all out on the Penn State Lacrosse Field for the final time, seeking a second consecutive NCAA national semifinals appearance.

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Checking in from Brazil: Day 12-13

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State spends its final day in Brazil training on the beach before catching a flight home.  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 12-13

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hi everyone, it's Kendall White!

It's been a long two days, with the last day in Brazil and a long day of travel home, but we're all back safe and sound.

On our last day in Brazil, we started the morning with a beach training session with a Brazilian beach coach, and of course AD helping out. It was fun to learn the different skills and strategies for beach and have some fun in the sun at the same time!


After the session and some lunch, we all wanted to make the most of the beautiful day before we left for the United States. Some of us should have probably used some sunscreen. It took it a little while to set in so we all packed up our stuff and headed to the buses all packed and ready to go. 

We made one final detour to see the Olympic Village and the area where the Olympic stadiums are in Rio. It was astounding, with magnificent facilities all lined up in a row. It was sad to learn that Brazil has yet to do anything with the beautiful village, as nothing is going on in the stadiums or in the apartments anymore.

It was amazing to see such large buildings and apartments so empty. It was also very eye-opening to know that our idols lived there, in the Olympic village. The place we all strive to be in the future, playing for our country against the best teams in the world.

After the village, we continued to the airport where we made our way onto a 10-hour flight home, getting in some duty-free shopping time before leaving. I don't know about everyone else, but that sunburn did not help me get too comfortable in flight.


It was a long flight but the movies on the mini TVs on the back of the seats helped entertain us until it was time to go to sleep. When we woke up we had arrived at JFK airport in New York. After going through customs and getting our luggage, we had a four-hour bus ride back to State College. 

We had the sweetest couple as our bus drivers, offering us snacks and drinks the whole trip. Half of us decided to sleep on the floor the whole trip and the rest of us contorted our bodies to fit each situation (it was quite entertaining to look at).

By the last hour, we were alive and talking, reminiscing about our trip to Brazil and joking around like always. We finally made it safe and sound to Penn State and although we are so grateful for the amazing trip, it is good to be back home in Happy Valley. 

I for one would have probably never left the country in my life if it hadn't been for this trip. Thank you to everyone who supports us and makes blessings like our foreign trips possible.

Kendall White, #3

Checking in from Brazil: Day 11

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State women's volleyball spends its last full day in Brazil at the beach! Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 11

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 


Hey guys! It's Heidi here!

I'm sad to say it's our last full day in Brazil. It has been such an awesome experience, especially since it is my first time out of the country! Thank you all for making this trip possible we are very lucky to have all of you.

Today was a beach day. Clare [Powers] and Simone [Lee] set up a sand volleyball tournament for all of us to compete in. My partner was Allison [Farrell]! It was awesome and so much fun. We had two courts going with three four-team pools.


The games were played to 15 and then once the pools were finished, there were consolation brackets and champion brackets. These games were played to 21 to find out the overall winners. Clare and Simone won the whole tournament, winning 21-17 in the final match.

After the beach volleyball tournament, we walked to the mall around the corner from the hotel to grab some lunch. There were a variety of options. I chose to each a sandwich with an acai bowl (it was delicious). Some of the other teammates had American food and Chinese.


After lunch we were allowed to hang out on the beach and catch some sun! A lot of us went swimming in the ocean. The waves were huge, it was tiring after a while! 

Other girls decided to go with the pool on the hotel rooftop. The view is gorgeous. We can see the entire city, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and the wonderful beach.

People went swimming in the heated pool on the roof and after the ocean, the rest of us joined them. It was a long day and filled with sun and smiles. After the pool we had dinner at the hotel. It was pizza! We all enjoyed a slice of pizza while talking about our favorite times on the trip.

Thank you all again for making this foreign trip possible for us! 

- Heidi Thelen

Checking in from Brazil: Day 10

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State spends a day sight-seeking in Rio, checking out a few iconic locations in Brazil. Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 10

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hi, it's Clare Powers here!

My oh my, our trip in Brazil started out amazing and it keeps getting better. This morning, our first day in Rio, the sunshine woke up us early, alongside the sounds of waves crashing on the shore along Ipanema Beach. 

With bug spray and cameras (also sunscreen for us pale folks), we loaded the bus in to visit Christ the Redeemer. We were led by an amazing local Brazilian tour guide who gifted us with facts about the statue as well as the city as a whole.


The tour bus dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain where the train transportation would elevate us up the mountain. While awaiting the train, the team visited a few tourist shops and purchased souvenirs. 

The group piled into two train cars for the trip up the mountain. We went up through a forest and came out among some amazing views of the city before reaching the last train station.

Numerous staircases later, Christ the Redeemer was in our midst. The statue stands tall at 38 meters and is 709 meters above sea level, literally stunning!

Jesus' arms extend wide across the horizon, almost as if opening for a hug to the city. It was truly an amazing site and a smile rarely left our face. The site past the statue was overseeing the entire city of Rio. The coasts portrayed luxurious white sand beaches and multiple groups of boats, anchored in the water. 

Concluding the visit, most of us stopped at another souvenir shop. Decelerating down the mountain, the beautiful greenery was a perfect completion to the wonderful monument.

Thank you to everyone who has made this experience possible for me. Not only was I able to check this beautiful monument off my bucket list but I also purchased Mother's Day presents for my Mom whom shares my love for the Christ the Redeemer.

- Clare Powers


Hi, this is Simone!

Reporting from day 10 in Rio de Janero! 

20170513_153244_6.jpgToday was absolutely incredible. Not only were we able to spend a fair amount of time outside, we also went to two beautiful places, the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Sugarloaf Mountains. My favorite part of the trip was seeing the Sugarloaf Mountains! (No, there was not sugar on these mountains).


These mountains are named "Sugarloaf" because they were discovered during the peak of sugar cane trade in Brazil. We rode in glass cable cars that run along a 4,600-foot route. The views were incredible, however being afraid of heights I was glad to have my teammates there with me! Looking down from the cable cars you could see everything from the airports to beaches and even our hotel!

It was such a great experience taking pictures from the top of the mountains and pointing out even more cool places from below! I know the team had a great time taking the tour of the sugarloaf mountains and it was an experience that will last a lifetime! 

We are all so fortunate to have been able to take this trip and experience it with such great friends, coaches and boosters. We want to thank the boosters for all of their support in organizing this trip and helping make this once and a lifetime trip a reality!

Signing off from Brazil,
Simone Lee

Lions Confident in NCAA Second Round Win

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State remains composed and battle tested in its 19-14 win against JMU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  Read More

Lions Confident in NCAA Second Round Win

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourth-seeded Penn State women's lacrosse is moving on to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals following a 19-14 win against JMU Saturday afternoon.

Tied for the second highest Nittany Lion scoring output of the season and the second-highest in an NCAA Tournament game, the final score hardly does justice to telling the story of a back-and-forth outing featuring a wide spectrum of emotions across 60 minutes. 

"We're really excited for the win, it was a great game," head coach Missy Doherty said postgame. "That's what you're going to get when you get to the NCAA's, there are no easy games."

Jumping on the scoreboard less than a minute into action, Penn State quickly made things look easy, widening the advantage to seven, 8-1, helped out by three early goals from Madison Carter. 

The Dukes came storming back though, switching up the momentum with a 5-1 run to arrive within three, 9-6, at halftime. James Madison only continued to surge out of the break, scoring three straight to knot the score, 9-9, at 26:49. 

The Nittany Lions quickly regrouped, responding with back-to-back goals from Katie O'Donnell and then Carter, to spark a 5-0 scoring streak that built the Penn State advantage back to five, 14-9.

"Lacrosse is just a game of runs so I think as a team we just do a good job of staying consistent and we know when to not freak out when they get a run on us," Carter said.

Aiding Carter in the second-half surge, O'Donnell also noted that calm composure was key in kick starting an already potent offense on display earlier in the opening frame. 

"I thought we just had to settle it down a little and settle ourselves down a little bit," O'Donnell said. "I think we let their first half run get to us a little bit and we lost our mentality on offense. Second half, we just thought, move the ball, move ourselves, be decisive and we got back into the flow and kept pushing transition, which definitely helps us out." 

Between Carter and O'Donnell, the duo combined for 10 of 19 goals, including two on the free position and an additional pair of assists.

Finishing with a career-high eight points, Carter also edged the advantage on the draw, registering 12 draw controls.

"Haley [Warden] is really good at the draw and she really gave our team a run for their money on the draw," Carter said. "I was just trying to mix up what I was doing and the girls on the line came in and helped out to really box out the girls and it was really good to have those possessions because it kept the momentum of the game going." 

For Doherty, although pleased by the offensive output, she noted that the early postseason test would only provide learning lessons headed to the upcoming quarterfinal match against Princeton, set for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 21 at home.

"JMU played so well, they brought it for 60 minutes, they just kept attacking, attacking, attacking and really tested our defense," Doherty said.

Much like JMU, Penn State and Princeton have already met during the regular season with the Nittany Lions earning a 13-8 win against the Tigers on the road near the end of March. Princeton knocked off Cornell in the NCAA Tournament second round with a dramatic 11-9 win against Cornell. 

"I think the grill of our season has prepared us for that consistency in approach, when you go through our Big Ten games, when you go through our tough out of conference schedule, you have to be focused each game," Doherty said.

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Make B1G Championship History

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State's men's team takes home the Big Ten Outdoor title marking the first conference crown in program history.  Read More

Lions Make B1G Championship History

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State made history Sunday afternoon, as the Nittany Lion men were crowed Big Ten Outdoor Champions, earning their first Big Ten title in program history.

Carrying the momentum of a standout opening day throughout the three-day event, the Penn State men finished 14 points ahead of second-place Ohio State (103) to lock up the title.

Hosting the event for the first time since 2007 and just the third time in program history, the Nittany Lions wasted no time setting the tone, with three of four day one silver medalists coming on the men's side. 

"This has been, personally, a date that I've had on the calendar for three years," Penn State head coach John Gondak said. "When we first found out we were going to host in 2017, it was a goal to host a great championship and have two teams that can contend."

By the end of the first day, even with some unpredictable weather, the Penn State men had rocketed to the top of the team standings with nearly double the team score of second-place Nebraska and Wisconsin. 

"They just went out and from the first day, scoring 40 points in three events, which is something we weren't expected to do, and just jumped out to a big lead like that," Gondak said. 

Penn State powered through day two, highlighted by a school record performance in the long jump. Fueled by the energy of the crowd, Malik Moffett joined an elite group with a jump of 26'-3" (8 m) to surpass a school record set by David Coney in 1985.

It wasn't until just after the record-setting gold medal performance that Moffett realized he had etched his name into program history.

"I found out and my coach picked me up and I thought, did that really happen, I'm in the eight meter club," Moffett said. "It's a nice club to be in and not too many people can say that so I'm pretty psyched about it."

Having already qualified for the 200-meter finals a day prior, sprints had actually been the focus of the senior Nittany Lion leading up to the weekend.

"Really I stopped doing a lot of long jump stuff and focused more on sprints," Moffett said. "I only really practiced long jump two times out of the week and I don't know why, but I guess it worked. 

A first team All-Big Ten selection, Moffett, wasn't finished, claiming the 200-meter title with a time of 19.87w to ascend to the top of the all-condition standings in program history. 


Penn State also saw fellow first team All-Big Ten selection Isaiah Harris pour on the points, extending his stretch of dominance in the 800-meter race. With a time of 1:49.68, Harris earned his fourth consecutive Big Ten title, having now won each indoor and outdoor titles consecutively across the last two years.

"Every time I come to the conference meet I know there's going to be good competition out there so it means a lot to go out there and defend a title against that many good guys," Harris said.

Despite windy conditions, Harris wasn't fazed by the snippets of unfavorable weather throughout the weekend. 

"It was really windy out there today so I wanted to tuck in behind someone and let them break the wind for me and then the last 250 I just went for it," Harris said.

Just two of a wealth of key performances and top contributors across the weekend, it's the entire team effort that has Gondak most impressed at the end of the weekend.

"It's obviously a goal of ours to try and win a men's and a women's title on the same day, we came a little bit short on the women's side today, but the men came through and it's a testament to them and their passion and their competitiveness," Gondak said.

On the women's side, Dannielle Gibson was among two to earn gold on the final day of competition. With a 45'-1.75" (13.76m)w mark, Gibson locked up the triple jump title to help propel the Nittany Lion women to a third-place finish in the final team standings. 

Relying on training and preparation, pure joy took over as Gibson peered to the results to find out she'd be taking home the title.

"It was an exhilarating feeling, nothing like it to be honest," Gibson said. "More so not proud for myself, but proud to contribute points to my team, that was the major thing I was focused on so it was a wonderful feeling." 

Perhaps no feeling is greater than the sight of the Nittany Lion men's team hoisting their first Big Ten trophy in program history, circled by the support of the entire men's and women's team.

"Seeing the guys able to make history right here on our own track, it's like a whole different level," Gibson said.

For Moffett and Harris, it's the culmination of years of hard work, especially for those in their final season in the Blue and White. 

"The first time we came to this facility Penn State said, they've never won a Big Ten title and they've always kept on hammering us about it," Moffett said. "To make it reality is just amazing."

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Checking in from Brazil: Day 9

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State plays the Brazilian junior national team for a second match on day nine in Brazil  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 9

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hello everyone Kristin Krause here!

As you have heard from my fellow teammates, we have been having a terrific time here in Brazil! This morning we started off with some breakfast at the hotel that included fruit such as mango, watermelon and pineapple, as well as some eggs and sausage.

Some of us went to spend the morning at the beach since we were having beautiful weather in Buzios, which from my knowledge, wasn't necessarily the case back home. Others spent the morning relaxing outside at the pool at hotel, but everybody made sure they had their sunscreen and bug spray on. 


We all gathered at the hotel and sat in a game room where we were provided with our game stats from yesterday's match against the Brazilian Junior National Team. We had the opportunity to watch some game film as well on a projector.

After film, we went to eat lunch at Buzin restaurant which had a seafood buffet. The shrimp was absolutely delicious! The food has been a huge hit and this restaurant has been a crowd favorite. 

We then returned to the hotel and checked out because after tonight's match we would be heading to Rio. We had a wonderful stay at this hotel because of the change of environment and the location. The aura of the group definitely changed when we got to Buzios and had the privilege of staying near the beach!

This has been an amazing adventure and an incredible experience for all of us and we owe you all a huge thank you! We appreciate everything you all have done for us to give us this opportunity. 

Thank you,
Kristin Krause

Hello everyone! B checking in! 

After packing up the bus, we took the same two hour drive as yesterday back to the Brazilian Olympic training site. The team spent most of the bus ride snoozing and getting ready to face off against the Brazilian Junior National Team for the second day in a row. The scenery leading up to the training site never gets old and is beyond beautiful.


Once we arrived, we played five sets. Winning the second, third, and fourth set securing the "win," but the volleyball competition was much improved from the day before. It is interesting to see the different dynamics international teams compete with and its always fun to play athletes we don't see every season, especially in a gym where so many successful Brazilian volleyball players have trained. 

Overall, the experience was very humbling. (Side note: shoutout to Emily Sciorra for playing outstanding today, and Simone Lee's block that landed straight down before she did - incredible). As always, playing with the girls beside me is a great time and so much fun. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

After playing, we were invited to a barbecue type cookout in a little tent with the Brazilian coaches. The meal included rice, cheese bread balls, steak, sausage, chicken wings, and some delicious cheese garlic bread. It was a little different than our American barbecue, but was definitely tasty.

Stuffed full, we hopped back onto the bus for the two hour drive (filled with lots of chatting, mostly about books, and apparently, "Lost in Alaska" is highly recommended) to our new destination: Rio de Janeiro!


The scenery on the way back to Rio was the complete opposite of what we saw around Buzios. As we crossed over the long bridge into Rio, the lights of the city really showed how populous the area was. 

While there weren't a ton of tall buildings like in Chicago or New York City, there were buildings and houses covering all of the land-even up the hills and mountains. There were also little outdoor soccer areas each direction you looked with people playing even at 11 p.m. at night. Similar to what we saw in Sao Paulo, the graffiti and art covered walls, buildings, bridges, you name it - was quite impressive.

We arrived at our hotel at Ipanema Beach late at night, which was right across the street from the beach. Don't worry, that will be utilized later on! The hotel was absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to see what all Rio has to offer! 


This trip has been an experience of a lifetime and I don't think we could possibly put into words how grateful we are for this opportunity.  

Obrigada (thank you) and can't wait to see you all again soon!

#21 Bryanna Weiskircher

Lions Look to Build on Historic Season

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Despite a season-ending loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Penn State men's lacrosse looks toward the future with optimism.  Read More

Lions Look to Build on Historic Season

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Making its fourth NCAA postseason appearance in program history, seventh-seeded Penn State men's lacrosse's historic 2017 season came to a close in the first round of the tournament.

Equipped with multi-goal performances from arguably one of the top attack trios in the nation, Grant Ament, Mac O'Keefe and Nick Aponte combined for all eight goals, with Ament and O'Keefe scoring three apiece. 

For Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen, he knew coming into the matchup that the Tigers would likely meet their toughest attack of the season.

"We knew we were going to be challenged," Nadelen said. "It's hard to keep an attack like that at bay."

Without surrendering the lead until the midway point of the third quarter, Penn State battled from behind to tie the score at 7-7 early in the fourth quarter before Towson shifted the momentum and ran away with the win. 

Under the cloudy skies, the Nittany Lions lost to the Tigers 12-8, but as head coach Jeff Tambroni took just a moment to reflect postgame, there's still much to be proud of despite the final score. 

For Tambroni, Penn State lacrosse has plenty to build on and even more to look forward to in 2018. Proud of the progress the Nittany Lions have made throughout the last few seasons, it's what's still to come that will continue to drive motivation even with an unwelcome outcome.

"I'm excited about the future, I've got one on my left and one on my right here," Tambroni said, nodding to Ament and sophomore Chris Sabia. "They're going to be back for the next couple years and I'm hopeful that the sting of this game will help us look forward." 

Penn State returns several of its key contributors next season, including Ament who netted 30 goals this season in addition to O'Keefe. With a three-goal outing, O'Keefe set a single season program record with his 50th and 51st goals, surpassing a 60-year old record set by Bill Hess (49).

On the opposite end of the field, the Nittany Lions return freshman goaltender Colby Kneese, and important underclassmen defensemen in Sabia, Tommy Wright and Kevin Fox. Standout freshman faceoff man Gerard Arceri will also return next season. 

"It's obviously an exciting thing," Ament said. "We can learn from this, specifically Chris [Sabia] and I are going to be upperclassmen next year which is kind of scary to think of, but we're just excited, we have a lot of young guys who are excited to come back and grind in the fall, day in and day out, get better and hopefully we can get past this first round and more next year."

Among all of the optimism surrounding who's back and what's ahead, Tambroni, Sabia and Ament didn't end their media session without acknowledging the foundation for the success of the season - the senior class. 

"They've made the path for us, specifically with Nick [Aponte], I've learned so much from him," Ament said. "I've played alongside him the last two years, it's going to be sad to see him go but I know he left a great legacy that I think the entire offense can build off of." 

For Tambroni, the loss is just a little more bitter considering the impact the senior class has made on something a little more intangible, the culture of the program.

"They set a really high standard," Tambroni said. "In past years we've had some great kids that have done their very best to kind of push this thing forward and kind of taken incremental steps, and I think they've learned very well from the groups behind them, but then [this year's senior class] stood on top of that standard to try to raise the bar a little bit more."

Evident in the upward trajectory of the program even amidst the move to the Big Ten Conference, both Tambroni and the rest of the team are grateful for the positive leadership of such an impactful senior class.

Now ready to move forward with tremendous returning talent, that hunger to build on the strengths of the season and the foundation of those who have come before, the drive to reach the NCAA Tournament again for another shot will only grow stronger in time.

"This group that is coming back next year, the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen will learn from the optimism of [the senior class], the fun that these guys created," Tambroni said. "At the same time they worked really hard to get to that point and instill the sense of belief, the championship type culture that needed to be instilled here and I think is here now, we just have to take the ball and keep running with it."

Checking in from Brazil: Day 8

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State hits the beach in Rio before a matchup against the Brazilian junior national team.  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 8

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hello Penn Staters!!

I'm Haleigh Washington, a senior middle blocker from Colorado Springs, Colorado and I'll be writing the blog for today! Let's get started, shall we!

Thursday was our first official full day in Buzios and this town is gorgeous! Our hotel is a two-minute walk from the downtown area which is right along the beach.

This morning we started our day bright and early in order to get in as much beach time as possible before we played the Brazilian Junior National Team. We hiked about 20 minutes through the town of Buzios along the beach and went to this beautiful cove called Sao Fernandez beach. It was early when we got there so we had our pick of where we wanted to sit. 


Once we got everything situated we naturally had to do our tourist trap shopping, so as venders would approach our beach blankets some of the girls, including myself, purchased sun dresses, bracelets, and head scarfs. Just your average day as a tourist. For the rest of the morning we enjoyed the Brazilian sun, the Brazilian surf, and some Brazilian wildlife! We got to see a crab or two! 

After the beach, it was time to get down to business. Following a gorgeous two hour bus ride from Buzios to Rio we arrived at the Brazilian National Team Training center where we would play the junior national team.


Tourist time was over as we entered the facility where the two-time Olympic gold medalist volleyball team trained. We were excited and ready to play.

During warmups, the team was very strong, a lot of the girls had GREAT arms and were hitting shots we weren't always used to seeing. That got us excited! We were looking forward to good competitive volleyball. Come game time we were ready to play and this team competed. 

Anytime we made too many errors in a row our thought we could fall asleep on this team, they would take two or three points off of us. We didn't stay down for long, we'd bounce right back and get a run of our own.

Overall we played five sets that night and it was the most competitive volleyball we've seen in Brazil, which is what we expected and wouldn't have been able to find anywhere else. At the end of the match we got some ice, got to watch the men's junior national team play a little and then we were off to dinner and headed home.

The facility we played in was fantastic, but what stood out to me the most was in a gym of all volleyball, all business, there was a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote posted on the wall before the entrance to one of the gyms. I'm afraid I don't know the quote by heart, but it was the line where he says we are not defined by the positive moments in our lives, but by the way we respond to the negative moments. It's not every day you see something like that posted in a gym, so it was pretty powerful to see that there. 


Overall, today was a great day full of beautiful beaches and good volleyball. We're excited for more adventures to come and beyond blessed and thankful for the opportunity to represent Penn State on this incredible trip.

We Are!
#15 Haleigh Washington

Checking in from Brazil: Day 7

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State women's volleyball packs up and heads to Rio De Janiero for the second half of its Brazil trip.  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 7

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hi, it's Keeton!

We started off the morning super early with a 6 a.m. departure from our hotel in Sau Paulo where we bused to the airport to catch our flight to Rio De Janiero. The bus ride to the airport was completely silent as everyone was so exhausted that they were asleep within seconds of sitting down in their seats.

We finally we got to board our plane where after we took a short 45 minute ride to Rio. It was so cool because on the descent we could see Christ the Redeemer (statue) on his mountain making us even more excited for our upcoming tour day where we will get to see him up close.

After we got our bags, we made our way to yet another bus, where we had to say some teary goodbyes to Laura as she would be leaving to go home from here. 

The first 30 minutes of the bus ride to Buzios was full of chatter as everyone was fighting to get closest to the window so that they could get the best possible picture.


Soon after that, everyone was back to sleeping since we had such an early morning. The bus ride was fairly long but everyone on our team can pretty much sleep anywhere so it wasn't a problem. 

-  #12 Keeton Holcomb

Hello, it's Cami!


When we finally got settled in Buzios after a long day of traveling, everyone immediately changed into their bathing suits and cover ups.

We were all super excited to finally get to the beach and soak up some of Brazil's finest rays of sunshine, so we decided to head to the closest beach to the hotel which was only a three-minute walk. We almost had to stop a couple times during our sprint to the shore since the shops we were passing were so adorable.


We finally set camp on the beach as quickly as we could to catch the last bit of sun the day had to offer. Our view included numerous fishing and sail boats, along with many curious, passing stray dogs. As everyone heated up outside, the cold crystal clear water helped us cool off. 

The sun slowly started to lower to the horizon and made one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. We made a refreshing stop in the hot tub to rinse off before our dinner in town.

The restaurant we ate at was different than the others in the way that there were more fish options, including a buffet section with fresh sushi. To finish the night off, we shopped and then found some hammocks and relaxed until curfew called.

- Cami May

Coaches Caravan Day 4: Altoona, Williamsport

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State wraps up the 2017 Coaches Caravan in its final two stops on the road at Altoona and Williamsport.  Read More

Coaches Caravan Day 4: Altoona, Williamsport

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Altoona Photo Gallery I Williamsport Photo Gallery I  Day 3 Recap I Day 2 Recap I Day 1 Recap

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - The Penn State Coaches Caravan officially came to a close Thursday evening, wrapping up with an evening event in Williamsport following an afternoon stop in Altoona 

Across four days, seven stops and nearly 970 miles, Penn State's fifth Coaches Caravan crisscrossed the state, greeting passionate fans and alumni. Share the Penn State story, each member of Caravan reflected on everything from surging student-athlete success to exciting future plans and goals. 

"Our vision statement is preparing student-athletes for a lifetime of impact and that is our number one priority, but along the way we also serve our community," Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour said. "We serve Penn State as an academic institution and being valuable to the institution, and part of that is engaging with our community."

With living alumni in far more places than just Pennsylvania, the opportunity to truly engage in the community serves many purposes aside from giving back to those who have so passionately shown their support in a variety of ways.

"I love listening to our alumni, our community talk about what they like, what they don't like, what they're concerned about, what they're happy about - that helps me in how we go about our daily business, particularly on the alumni and community engagement side of it," Barbour said. 

Stop 6: Altoona (Penn State Altoona)
The bus pulled out of the parking lot at the Bryce Jordan Center at 9:30 a.m. headed down Interstate 99 to Altoona.

Greeted by a vibrant crowd, Penn State coaches Erica Dambach and Tim Murphy again joined Barbour and James Franklin on stage for a second show.

Among highlights, all three coaches spoke to creating and fostering a competitive atmosphere that challenges student-athletes to continually strive for success at the highest level from the moment they arrive on campus.

"My promise to student-athletes is challenge and support because really, 'we are' is for a lifetime," Murphy said.


For Franklin, it was the approach to embracing a challenge that helped the Nittany Lions to a historic 2016 Big Ten Championship season, culminating in Penn State's fourth Rose Bowl appearance in program history.

"For us, the success of our season really came down to details, hard work and doing the little things," Franklin said. 

Media Availability:
-Erica Dambach
-James Franklin 

Stop 7: Williamsport (Genetti Hotel/Williamsport Cultural Arts Center)
After lunch in Altoona, the Caravan back tracked a bit, passing by Happy Valley on the way to Williamsport for the final stop. Arriving at the historic Genetti Hotel, a nearly 100-year-old structure, the program took place right next door at the ornate Williamsport Cultural Arts Center, built in 1928.

As has been the case at nearly every spot on the entire Coaches Caravan, it's not hard to generate enthusiasm and energy surrounding the Penn State story, as deputy athletic director Phil Esten noted that he likes to refer to Penn State as an "and" university. 

"When I say Penn State is an 'and' university, I mean Penn State is about the classroom, and the community, and character and success," Esten said.

Perhaps the best part of all of the 'and' items mixed together though, is what Esten noted as the foundation of the 'Penn State way.' 

For Dambach, reflective of the Penn State way means putting together a total four-year plan for women's soccer student-athletes that involves all aspects of not only academic and off the field assistance, but also nutrition and strength training specifically targeted at ensuring each member of the team is on track to meet both short and long term goals.


"In 2015, when we won our first national championship, we had total buy in from the entire team," Dambach said. "When that happens not only do you see a difference in how individuals perform, but they also tend to put the goals of the team before self."

Penn State officially concluded the 2017 Coaches Caravan arm in arm, with one final singing of the Nittany Lion alma mater before boarding the bus back to Happy Valley.


Media Availability:
-Tim Murphy
-Phil Esten 

Mileage Tracker:
Day 1
University Park to York - 114.4 miles
York to King of Prussia - 83.9 miles

Day 2
King of Prussia to Hazleton: 95.6 miles
Hazleton to Harrisburg: 881. Miles
Harrisburg to University Park: 98.2 miles

Day 3
University Park to Pittsburgh: 138 miles
Pittsburgh to University Park: 138 miles

Day 4
University Park to Altoona: 44.4 miles
Altoona to Williamsport: 106 miles
Williamsport to University Park: 60.9 miles

Coaches Caravan round trip total: 967.5 miles

Nittany Lions Ready for NCAA Tournament

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State set to make the most of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.  Read More

Nittany Lions Ready for NCAA Tournament

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni addressed the media earlier this week ahead of the first Nittany Lion appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013. This will be Penn State's second appearance under Tambroni, and the fourth in program history, with the Nittany Lions securing the No. 7 overall seed.

"They had a goal coming in, back in the fall," Tambroni said. "To be here at this very moment, with an opportunity to compete and play in the playoffs."

Expanding on his statement, Tambroni noted the determination of this year's team has stemmed from the leadership of the senior class, specifically the example shown by senior captain Nick Aponte.

"They have done a wonderful job of just keeping us all on track," Tambroni said. "We've had our moments where I feel like we were really going in the right direction and some moments where I feel like we've gotten off track, but those guys have kept us focused the whole year."

Last year, Penn State concluded its season with a loss to Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, marking a season where the Nittany Lions developed strength but opposing teams capitalized on areas for improvement. 

While Penn State ended the 2016 campaign with a winning record at 8-7, they worked hard in the months leading up to the 2017 season with a goal of playing in both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament as long-term goals. 

Undefeated in their nonconference schedule to start the 2017 slate, the Nittany Lions built on the early success of freshman attackman Mac O'Keefe, combined with the veteran presence of Aponte and sophomore attackman Grant Ament. Together, the trio has combined for nearly half of the team's 205 goals this season (97) with O'Keefe leading the way with 48 of his own. 

At the other end of the field, veteran defenseman Peter Triolo has provided a steady presence in front of freshman goaltender Colby Kneese, who earned the starting job earlier this season securing a .507 save percentage through 15 games. At midfield, Nittany Lions like Gerard Arceri and Billy Lombardi often do the dirty work to secure faceoff wins.

For Ament, this year's team has built great camaraderie, which is both important for the team's success early on, and continued success into the postseason.

"As time goes on our chemistry has grown," Ament said. "I think that's a big focal point for us."

As for last Sunday's selection show, senior midfielder Matt Florence said it was phenomenal seeing Penn State on the television screen, securing the No. 7 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and another chance at a home outing Saturday against Towson.

"It was definitely exciting to hear," Florence said. "Just to have this tremendous opportunity presented to us, it definitely brings a smile to all the senior's faces knowing we have another game to play, another opportunity to continue our season, and really just strive for the goal we set out to accomplish all season." 

Checking in from Brazil: Day 6

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From a shopping trip to a final match against Sao Cristovao, Penn State wraps up its final day in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 6

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Hello all, Laura (Bro) here!

I hope you are all as happy to hear from your favorite alum as I am happy to be writing all of you wonderful people who have made this trip possible and my last four years incredible. 

Day six, I swear the earth must turn faster down here because it feels like we just got here yesterday!

Today started with breakfast at our hotel which, as always, includes the very delicious and strong Brazilian espresso, along with a variety of fruits, pastries and Brazilian breakfast items. 

After breakfast, we went to a mall. It was a very high-end mall, which all of hearts loved but wallets despised. Many of us were in awe of the Calvin Klein underwear vending machine! 

The highlight of the mall was a skin care store. They showed us a hand salt that makes your hands feel softer than a baby's bottom. Taylor claimed to have bought the hand salt for her mom, but we all know Taylor will be hoarding it for herself.

We then ate at the food court, and while there were many different food options, most of us opted for American fast food and acai bowls.

Thank you all for becoming my family away from home and thank you to my parents for giving me the opportunity and resources to attend the best university in the world! We Are!!!!!

Signing out,
Laura Broerman (Bro) 

It's Tori! 

Today we played our third and final match here in San Paulo against Sao Cristovao. We gave Penn State flashlights as our gift to them as a joke because of yesterday's game in the dark. We played four sets and won all four, but they really made us hustle and compete hard!


After the match, they started playing their Brazilian music, which is very lively, upbeat and makes you want to dance! They waved us over and then started to teach us some of their dance moves. They have a couple songs that have fully choreographed dances to them, so they taught us those. We were all definitely not coordinated enough for that kind of dancing!

After we had a good laugh watching each other learn their moves, we showed them our THON dance and a couple other popular moves that we do. They caught on much quicker and easier to our moves than we did to theirs.


What I took away most from this match was not the experience of playing against them (even though that was very beneficial and what we came here to do), but the cultural experience of hanging out with the girls, exchanging words, dances, and laughs. 

Thank you everyone who made this trip possible, we would not have gotten to experience any of these beautiful moments without you!

Love always,
#11 Tori Gorrell

By Jeff Sattora,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off one of the best regular seasons in school history, the fourth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions (15-3) are ready to make a postseason run, and that all starts this weekend in Happy Valley. Read More

By Jeff Sattora,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off one of the best regular seasons in school history, the fourth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions (15-3) are ready to make a postseason run, and that all starts this weekend in Happy Valley. 


Facing the winner of Friday night's Louisville-James Madison game on Sunday at 1 p.m., the host Lions are excited and know they've worked hard to get here. 


"Coming into the tournament bidding you never really know what's going to happen, but we knew we had one of the best resumes in the country and to get the fourth-seed is a credit to the players and how hard they worked all season long," said head coach Missy Doherty. 


Not only is the fourth-overall seed a nice bonus, the team will also get to play on its home field during opening weekend. 


"We're really excited it's a home game," Doherty said.  "Playing here is always awesome, our facility is amazing.  We're really excited to have our home crowd, our alums, and our fans.  The energy at Penn State is always amazing so it definitely gives us an edge playing at home."


"There's nothing better than playing on our home field and filling the hill with our parents, friends, it's always a great atmosphere," added junior midfielder Katie O'Donnell.


While 2017 is a new postseason run, Doherty and her squad will lean on experience from 2016, when Penn State made a run to the Final Four. 


"You have to remind yourself that you have the ability to do this and to play with confidence because we've been there before," O'Donnell said on using last year's run.  "If we can do that it will help us in the long run."


Leading that charge will be the Big Ten's Attack Player of the Year, senior Steph Lazo.  Lazo, the program's first winner of that award, led the Big Ten with her 82 points and 39 assists for the season, while her 43 goals ranked seventh in the conference. Her point and assist totals also placed her 16th and 20th in the nation in those two categories.


Doherty credits Lazo's hard work for her success this season. 


"She just kept getting better and better every year," Doherty said.  "To have the year she had this year with some of the best defenders marking her throughout the season is a credit to her and the season she had." 


Although Lazo may have been recognized, one of Penn State's best weapons is its number of weapons as a group. 


"I think it's a huge advantage for us (to have so much talent)," Lazo said.  "If you take one of us out there is six other girls that can score and make plays on the offensive end.  We're all a big powerhouse, all 11 of us on the field."


Those powerhouse players are ready to go, and the way they've been playing this season, a Final Four is within reach again.  

Coaches Caravan Day 3: Pittsburgh

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled out of Happy Valley Wednesday afternoon headed straight to Pittsburgh for its fifth event on the four-day, seven stop tour. Read More

Coaches Caravan Day 3: Pittsburgh

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I Pittsburgh Photo Gallery I Day 1 Recap I Day 2 Recap

PITTSBURGH - The Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled out of Happy Valley Wednesday afternoon headed straight to Pittsburgh for its fifth event on the four-day, seven stop tour.

Alongside head coach James Franklin and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, Nittany Lion coaches Erica Dambach (women's soccer) and Tim Murphy (swimming and diving) boarded the bus for a new lineup for the second to last evening program this week.


Stop 5: Pittsburgh (Omni Hotel William Penn)
As those in attendance have seen at nearly every stop so far, top priorities in the first five years of the facilities master plan include significant updates for both men's and women's soccer as well as swimming and diving facilities.

"I'm ready to get out there and start digging the hole," Murphy said, drawing laughs from the crowd regarding the impact that the proposed new natatorium would have on the program.

Making his first appearance on the Coaches Caravan, Murphy is in his fourth season at the helm of the Nittany Lion men's and women's swimming and diving programs. Since his days as a member of the swimming and diving team at his alma mater West Chester University, Murphy has embedded into his coaching career the mentality that no matter the ability of the individual, with a dedicated work ethic every member of the team can serve an important role.

"I was the worst swimmer on the team, but I was also a captain on the team my senior year," Murphy said.

Dambach also spoke to the impact that proposed facilities upgrades would have, while also diving into a few examples of a continued quest for student-athlete excellence in a variety of areas that have served as a reflection of the foundation of the program.

Dambach shared the story of Nittany Lion goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom, who transformed her body and elevated her game all through years of hard work and dedication, eventually earning a draft selection in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, as the first keeper picked on the day.

 "She's an example of someone who took advantage of the conditions for success," Dambach said.

On a totally different note, Franklin closed out the coach remarks welcoming the newest Nittany Lion to the 2029 signing class, introducing the packed crowd to Carter Netport, age six. 

Catching up with assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith:
A Nittany Lion alum and Aliquippa native, Smith attended the Pittsburgh Coaches Caravan stop with his parents Marian and Harvey Jr., who is also a Penn State alum.

"I'll tell you, there's a lot of energy here there's a lot of excitement," Smith said. "I love Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has always been good to me and my family and it's always been good to Penn State."

For Smith, the opportunity to gather with football lettermen to share stories and reflect on a proud past and current success is all part of what makes Penn State so special. 

"It's a unique group," Smith said. "We recruit all over the country and you run into coaches from the SEC, ACC and all over the country and Penn Staters are unique in their brand of how we stick together, how we help each other. We understand the bond of the locker room and that's for life."

Outside of football lettermen though, the opportunity to meet and engage with so many passionate Penn State alumni and fans only adds to the deep sense of community that has been palpable across all five stops this week. 

"Those are the ones who really make us up," Smith said. "When you're sitting there and you have 107,000 people in the stands for a game and then the millions who watch the game on Saturday's, those are the people who support us and give us our energy, our juice."

Media Availabilities:
- Sandy Barbour 

Mileage Tracker:
University Park to Pittsburgh: 138 miles

Day 3 Total: 138 miles
Coaches Caravan Total: 520 miles

Checking in from Brazil: Day 5

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From a trip to the market and a youth clinic, check in for an update with the Nittany Lions on day five in Brazil.  

Checking in from Brazil: Day 5

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


Today in Brazil we got to truly experience the Brazilian culture by going to a fresh food market. My original thought when I heard that we were visiting a Brazilian food market was that it was going to be outside and almost take shape of our modern-day grocery store back in the United States.

Well I was wrong. The food market was held inside a stately building with window murals and it was quite beautiful. The market was filled with food such as fish, nuts, chocolate, meat and fruits. The team was particularly intrigued by just how generous each salesman was, especially at the fruit stations. 


The language barrier wasn't easy, but with just a point, the salesman would begin to cut his delicious fruit and let us try them. Most of us came home with what fruits we liked the most, but some others came home with things like nuts or chocolates.

Not only did we enjoy their service but they enjoyed ours as well - literally, they were clapping at the fact that a large group of American girls were strolling through the aisles.

After the market, we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Things such as salmon, soups and an array of fruits were so kindly offered. Although this could be a normal morning routine for a local citizen of Sao Paulo, the Penn State women's volleyball team got a delicious taste of the Brazilian culture today.

Thank you so much to those who made this trip possible!

#18 Allison Farrell

¡Boa Noite!

After a FULL-filling day of trying chocolates and tropical fruit, the team packed up and headed to the gym. 


Getting lost in the culture of Brazil, we made our way through the decorative small streets in our tour bus.

Upon arrival at the gym, instantaneous smiles spread throughout the team at the noise of excitement through the youthful group in the gym. About 60 middle school and high school aged kids were gathered, and after a quick demo of skills, smaller groups were formed.

A fun-filled hour of volleyball rallying and an attempt at conversation with the Portuguese-speaking students soon unfolded. It was hard not to smile when your group was so excited to play volleyball with you.

Once the hour was up, we quickly put our gear on and began warming up for our match against Sesi Sao Paulo. The lights in the gym were not working so, we were challenged with getting three sets in before the sun went down.


They were a competitive three sets, with Penn State winning the first and last set. The multicolored ball was in our favor in both the daylight of the gym and after sundown!

After shaking hands, almost completely dark in the gym now, we exchanged shirts with the other team in return for their authentic Brazilian jerseys. We took pictures with the girls and all the kids from the clinic who filled the stands to watch the game.

Concluding the night, we shared a meal amongst conversation (and again nearly in the dark).


The girls from the opposing team were genuinely kind and it was amazing to share experiences of our journeys through the game of volleyball. 

Thank you to all those who have helped the team get to Brazil, whether in funding or support, because tonight was a match I will hold fondly in my memories of this beautiful country and amazing sport. 

#7 Abby Detering

Coaches Caravan Day 2: Hazleton, Harrisburg

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Day two of the Penn State Coaches Caravan hits Hazleton and Harrisburg for a pair of stops.  

Foreign Tour Update: Day 4

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State women's volleyball tours through Sao Paulo, Brazil visiting historical landmarks and local favorites along the way Nittany Lions Taylor Krause and Nia Reed recap the day.  

Coaches Caravan Day 2: Hazleton, Harrisburg

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I Hazleton Photo Gallery I Harrisburg Photo Gallery

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the road bright and early for day two of the of the Coaches Caravan, traveling to Hazleton and Harrisburg to arrive at the midway point in the four-day tour before heading back to Happy Valley this evening.

The Coaches Caravan bus pulled out of the Valley Forge Casino Resort at 8:45 a.m. en route to another pair of Commonwealth campuses located in the heart of Pennsylvania.

Stop 3: Hazleton (Penn State Hazleton)
Winding through the northeast part of the state, the bus arrived at the Penn State Hazleton campus just in time for a few media opportunities before an afternoon program.


Home to Penn State Alumni Association Chief Executive Officer Paul Clifford, who grew up in the area, he returned for a bit of a homecoming alongside the group, greeted by another sold out crowd.

During the Photo Booth session prior to the program, Penn State head coach James Franklin met 12-year-old Connor Schamany, who, through family connections has actually grown up to be a Notre Dame football fan.

In an effort to convert Schamany to a Penn State fan, Franklin brought him on stage for a quick snapshot with the Big Ten Championship trophy, delivering a message to those in attendance. 

"I'm going to need everyone's help with Connor," Franklin said. "I need everybody in this community to help me recruit Connor, a really nice kid, a really good kid, but he's confused. Notre Dame is a good school but I need you guys to recruit him, bring him to games, buy him Penn State gear and help him get on board with us," Franklin said drawing a rousing applause from he audience.


Lady Lion hoops head coach Coquese Washington also joined in at the Hazleton stop, marking her third appearance on the Coaches Caravan.

For Washington, being a Lady Lion is a big deal and something that's integral in preparation to all the pride that goes into supporting Penn State.

"I think it's really, really cool to get out around the state and be able to connect with some of the fans who we don't get to connect with on a daily or weekly basis," Washington said. "Being in State College, Penn State alums and Penn State fans are such staunch supporters of the University, so to be able to get out and mingle with them and hear their stories of how Penn State Athletics has impacted them and to hear those stories is really cool."


On the heels of a 21-11 season that saw the Lady Lions reach the third round of the WNIT, Washington met questions about expectations for the future with great excitement for what's ahead.

"I think the next step in the process is that we want to return to participation in the NCAA Tournament and I think we have the leadership amongst our players and I think we have the experience," Washington said. "They got great experience this year playing some tough games. Playing in the WNIT, in a lot of ways it mirrors playing in the NCAA Tournament. I'm really excited about the future and I think that's the next step and we'll work with our team to get there."

Media Soundbites:

Stop 4: Harrisburg (Penn State Harrisburg)
Boarding back on the Coaches Caravan, Penn State cruised down Interstate 81, arriving at its third Commonwealth campus this week, Penn State Harrisburg. More than 350 attended the final evening program.

Part of each stop so far has featured a special presentation from Barbour, detailing the Penn State facilities master plan. Although aspiration in nature, Barbour is quick to point out that any piece of the plan plays an integral part in helping to bolster the impact that Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes are able to make.


"Everything we do is to make you proud, whether it's in competition, in the classroom or in the community," Barbour said.

Another piece of Barbour's presentation included a proud note regarding the more than 6,000 hours of community service performed by Penn State coaches and student-athletes. A component of the program that Franklin takes very seriously, he noted that Penn State football is regularly among the yearly program leaders in the category, taking great pride in being able to give back to the community.

"You can get everything that you want in life when you give to others," Franklin said.

Media Soundbites:
- Coquese Washington
- Sandy Barbour

Penn State returns to Happy Valley this evening to rest up before heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon. The Coaches Caravan will make just one stop for an evening program at the Omni William Penn Hotel. 

Mileage Tracker:
King of Prussia to Hazleton: 95.6 miles
Hazleton to Harrisburg: 881. miles

Day 2 Total: 183.7 miles
Coaches Caravan Total: 382 miles

Checking in from Brazil: Day 4

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 


Greetings from Brazil!

We started off the day with a bus ride through what's called the "Beverly Hills" of Sao Paulo, which is an area where professional artists, athletes, lawyers and doctors live. Our Brazilian host, AD, said that what might seem like a nice neighborhood is still extremely dangerous, with robberies sometimes occurring. To prevent this, a majority of the homes were gated with electric fences with guards who live out front.

Our first stop was at a Catholic church. We were only there for about 15 minutes because locals were coming in for mass. The church was pretty on the outside but when we walked in everyone was in awe of the architecture. It was absolutely beautiful.


There was artwork all over the walls and ceilings. We even got to see a baby getting baptized. A fun fact that I learned was that 70 percent of the population here in Brazil is Catholic which is pretty cool. 

They were also selling popcorn right outside the church which was different considering it was 9 a.m. We took some pictures and hopped back on the bus and headed to Sao Paulo's Central Park.  

We got off the bus and took pictures at a huge statue that was in the middle of the street. The statue depicted the early explorers in Brazil. 


We then made our way through Ibirapuera Park. The park reminded me of Central Park in New York. There were people rollerblading, biking and jogging everywhere we turned. There were also people were selling coconuts, ice cream and hotdogs.

Yours truly,
#6 Nia Reed 

Hello everyone, Taylor Krause here!

This afternoon we had the opportunity to tour the Museau Afro Brazil, a museum highlighting the importance of African people in the formation of Brazilian culture in the central area of Sao Paulo. The museum was located in the middle of Sao Paulo's version of Central Park, called Ibirapuera Park. 

20170507_102906.jpgDodging bicycles and trying to keep Tori [Gorrell] from petting all dogs in sight, we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery in front of us. The stroll to the museum allowed us to burn off some calories from all of the food we have been eating!

The museum was filled with a variety of exhibits, allowing us to explore some of the Brazilian history and culture. One of the more interesting pieces involved a large number of slices of burnt toast with different faces and numbers on it. The meaning underneath the artwork is still up for interpretation.


We learned a lot about the impact that the African people have had on Brazilian culture as well as art from the Africans and Afro-Brazilians.

After the museum, we had lunch as a team in the same place as yesterday. I guess you can say we like their meat! We also are big fans of their espresso. To keep the coffee people even happier, we ventured to a local coffee shop and bakery later on in the day.

A few people also went to a local church for Sunday mass and loved the experience. Afterward, our whole group took a bus to an Italian restaurant with the most amazing pizza. Ali Frantti set a new personal record with 10+ slices!

Hopefully it all burns off tomorrow as we have another match to play! Wish us luck! 

Thank you for all of your support and allowing us to have the times of our lives. I can guarantee you that we are soaking up everything on this trip, including the sun!

#13 Taylor Krause

Coaches Caravan Day 1: York, King of Prussia

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State officially opened its fifth Coaches Caravan, kicking off the four-day tour with a pair of visits to York and King of Prussia.  

Coaches Caravan Day 1: York, King of Prussia

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I York Photo Gallery I King of Prussia Photo Gallery

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Penn State officially opened its fifth Coaches Caravan, kicking off the four-day tour with a pair of visits to York and King of Prussia. After a year off, the 2017 Penn State Coaches Caravan is back and set to crisscross only the state of Pennsylvania, with a total of seven stops planned this week. 

Nittany Lion football head coach James Franklin headlined each stop on day one, alongside Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, men's gymnastics coach Randy Jepson and women's golf coach Denise St. Pierre.

Stop 1: York (Penn State York)
The Coaches Caravan bus departed the Bryce Jordan Center at approximately 8:30 a.m., headed out of Happy Valley to another one of Penn State's 23 other campuses located throughout the Commonwealth. 

Returning to York for the first time since the 2014 Coaches Caravan, a sold out crowd packed the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center on the Penn State York campus, welcoming the group for the official opening of the 2017 Penn State Coaches Caravan.


"I love being out on our Commonwealth campuses," Barbour said. "I think this is a way to pull together as an entire campus, as Penn State University, and I love being out and talking about our 800 student-athletes and the successes that they have had and the challenges and the things that we've got ahead of us."

As Barbour detailed 2016-17 highlights related to both athletics and academics, diving into the newly released facilities master plan, her message consistently drew back to what makes Penn State such a great place - the people.


Evident in Jepson's message, it's Penn State people like legendary gymnast and coaching legend Gene Wettstone, a record-holder for the NCAA men's team championships by a single coach in the sport, whose legacy is still inspiring future Nittany Lions long after his time in the Blue and White. 

"You look at the banners on the wall, it's not about that, it's about the empty space that remains and it's your job to fill that," Jepson said. "You have to do everything you can every day to make that happen for the alumni, for yourself, for your families and for the future of our program."

Media Soundbites:
Denise St. Pierre
- Randy Jepson
- James Franklin

Stop 2: King of Prussia (Valley Forge Casino)

Less than 100 miles away, Penn State packed up and hit the road, traveling along Route 30, before pulling into the Valley Forge Casino for the first of four evening programs this week.

Located in the Philadelphia area, where more than 100,000 Nittany Lion living alumni reside, the ever-popular stop has been a Coaches Caravan staple since its debut in 2012, with yet another brimming crowd out in full force. 


With such a passionate fan base in the area, it's not hard to find someone from the hometown crowd with a unique connection to Penn State. As St. Pierre kicked off her segment of the program, she invited those in attendance to share once piece of Penn State women's golf trivia they might have picked up for a chance to take home a small prize.

On the first attempt, one fan seated in the crowd recalled playing against St. Pierre in a golf scramble where she Pierre shot 15-under-par. 

"You asked if we minded playing with a woman and we ended up playing with a champ," said the member of the audience, who quickly drew joyful laughs from the crowd.

For Franklin, who grew up in nearby Langhorne, the opportunity to return close to home is one he consistently holds close. He closed out the final stop of the first day with an emotional message to those in attendance. 

"I am so proud to be the head football coach at Penn State," Franklin said. "You think about a young kid who grew up 20 minutes down the road, played football at Neshaminy high school, who had an opportunity to go to the Penn State of the Poconos - East Stroudsburg, then to go all over the country for 23 years working in every major conference as well as the NFL, to have the opportunity to come back home to represent you, to represent the great state of Pennsylvania and to continue our journey with our legacy of the program, is unbelievable to me." 

Media Soundbites:
- Sandy Barbour

Both coaches and staff will stay over in Valley Forge for the night before hitting the road early tomorrow morning headed to Hazleton for another sold out program at 11 a.m. before closing out the day in Harrisburg with an evening event.

Mileage Tracker:
University Park to York - 114.4 miles
York to King of Prussia - 83.9 miles
Day 1 Total: 198.3

Checking in from Brazil: Day 3

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Carley Muller and Ali Frantti check in from Brazil for updates from day three of the Nittany Lion Foreign Tour.  

Checking in from Brazil: Day 3

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 


Guess who's back, back, again? Carley Muller and Ali Frantti are back to tell you all about our trip!


The day began with another great breakfast in the hotel. We took a short bus tour through part of the enormous city of Sao Paulo and saw some amazing buildings and cathedrals along with different neighborhoods in the city.


Then we went to the Galeria Jose e Paulina Nemirovsky Arte Moderna - a modern art museum. It was cool to see different styles of art and learn about the history and the culture of Brazil. Needless to say, Haleigh Washington and Simone Lee were in their element.

It was a very cool experience to see the different styles of art and see some of Brazil's famous history. I (Frantti) know that a lot of my teammates were fascinated by the art sculptures, some even standing next to the sculptures mimicking their poses. Almeida Junior, a famous Brazilian artist, had many pieces in the museum and the most famous is called "The Longing" from 1899.

After another buffet lunch (with more tiny, strong coffee), we went to the Museu do Futebol and Memorial de America Latina. It was especially exciting for us seniors because this spring, Taylor Krause, Laura Broerman, and I (Carley) laced up our cleats and decided to play intramural soccer with our newfound free time. We learned pretty quickly that Laura, grass, and running don't mix well together after an injury during one of our games, so I'm actually not too sure how excited she was for the soccer museum...

The museum was inside the Estádio do Pacaembu, or the local soccer stadium, which was exciting to see in itself. As we toured the three-floor exhibit, we were able to learn all about the history of soccer as a whole, as well as Brazil's rich history with the beloved sport. When we entered, there were videos that allowed you to feel the energy of a live match in the stadium.


There was also a room that allowed you to feel the devastation that the entire country of Brazil felt when their soccer team lost in the finals of the 1950 World Cup by one goal to Uruguay. My personal favorite part was the room with pictures of things that happened in history from the years Brazil participated in the World Cup. 

We capped the night off with watching Ohio State sweep BYU in the men's volleyball NCAA national championship match and cheered on our old director of operations Kevin Burch, (who is now an assistant coach at Ohio State) to his seventh consecutive NCAA national title! Congrats Burch!

Needless to say, I think what we all took away from today was that Brazil takes its soccer among other things, VERY seriously and that's just one of the many things that makes it such an amazing place.


We want to say "obrigado" or "thank you" to everyone who made this trip a reality and opened our eyes to this beautiful country.

- #5 Ali Frantti and #10 Carley Muller

VIDEO: Lions Earn No. 4 Seed in NCAA Tournament

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- It was a busy NCAA selection Sunday for both Penn State lacrosse programs with each squad earning top eight seeds ahead of the NCAA DI Lacrosse Championship. Catch up with head coach Missy Doherty and senior Steph Lazo for an early look at reactions and expectations. Read More

VIDEO: Lions Earn No. 4 Seed in NCAA Tournament

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NEWS: Women's Lacrosse Earns No. 4 Seed I Men's Lacrosse Earns No. 7 Seed

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a busy NCAA selection Sunday for both Penn State lacrosse programs. Both the Nittany Lion men's and women's squads earned top eight seeds, making Penn State one of just three programs with both teams earning top eight seeding ahead of the men's and women's NCAA DI Lacrosse Championship. 

Penn State's women's lacrosse team hosted its watch party at Primanti Brothers in downtown State College, gathering together to see the official bracket reveal flash across the big screen.

The Nittany Lions earned the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye, set to meet the winner of the James Madison (13-6) and Louisville (11-7) matchup. Penn State will host both rounds of NCAA Tournament, making their 23rd appearance in the annual postseason event.

Catch up with head coach Missy Doherty and senior Steph Lazo for an early look at reactions and expectations headed into NCAA Tournament time.

Burger, Nadeau Highlight Minnesota Series

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By Mandy Bell, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Despite a sweep by Big Ten foe Minnesota, Penn State's Mason Nadeau and Willie Burger highlighted the Nittany Lion offense throughout the weekend.  

Burger, Nadeau Highlight Minnesota Series

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By Mandy Bell, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - Despite a sweep by Big Ten foe Minnesota, Penn State's Mason Nadeau and Willie Burger highlighted the Nittany Lion offense throughout the weekend. 

On Friday, Nadeau was the only Nittany Lion with a multi-hit game going 2-for-5 with a run scored. Penn State entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 6-2 deficit, but was not willing to go down easily. After an Alex Malinsky single to start off the inning, Nadeau followed with a single through the right side to keep the inning alive. The Nittany Lions managed to cut the deficit to 6-5, but could not score enough runs to come back.

However, Nadeau was only getting started.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions found themselves in a quick 5-0 hole after the top of the first inning. Despite a Nadeau leadoff single up the middle, the Nittany Lions were never able to catch the Golden Gophers. Penn State was able to put one run on the board coming off of the bat of Nadeau.

In his third at bat, Nadeau was due up first in the bottom of the sixth inning. As the Golden Gophers were warming up prior to the start of the inning, Nadeau prepared for his at bat the same way he always does -putting his left batting glove on first, followed by his right. The freshman then has to strap his right batting glove before he straps his left before he's ready to go.

Despite falling behind 1-2 in the count, Nadeau drove the next pitch he saw deep into right field for his second career home run.

"I never hit home runs in high school," Nadeau said. "I hit one home run in a fall-league game and that was it. Before that, it was eighth grade travel ball. It's a pretty great feeling. Everyone loves the long ball, me included. But, I know that's not what I am here to do so if it happens it happens. I'm just trying to get on base and help my team win whenever I can."

Nadeau ended the evening going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

"I think the biggest thing right now is even though Mason [Nadeau] is a freshman, he has an unbelievable competitive spirit," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "He doesn't take pitches off. We have some other guys like that, but there's a reason he's swinging the bat well. He'll get down two strikes and he doesn't let it bother him. Everyone once in a while he takes a bad swing, but he gets rid of it and comes right back. To be able to flush everything and move on to the next pitch is what we need to be doing as a group." 

After falling to the Golden Gophers 17-1 the night prior, the Nittany Lions found themselves in another quick 9-0 hole after just three innings on Sunday. This time, Penn State got on the board an inning earlier when Burger stepped up to the plate.

With runners on first and second, Burger singled to right-center field bringing home Braxton Giavidoni from second. Burger then picked up his second RBI of the evening in the bottom of the ninth inning with runners again on first and second. The sophomore sent a line shot up the middle to bring home the fourth run of the game. 

"I thought he made a great adjustment in the middle of the game," Cooper said. "He really tried to stay within himself more. One of Willie's greatest strengths is he has a deep reservoir of confidence. He believes he can do just about anything on a baseball field. He just kind of simplified stuff at the plate tonight rather than trying to add more to it."

On top of his 4-for-5, two-RBI night, the typical first baseman made his fifth consecutive start at third base.

"I played [third base] for the first half of my freshman year," Burger said. "Then, I broke my rib and missed a substantial amount of time. When I came back, based on necessity, I moved to first and never really went back to third. So it was a pretty easy transition for me. It's a little bit different because I spent so much time away from that corner, but the two corners are pretty similar. If you're an infielder, you're an infielder."

Of the team's 22 hits throughout the series, Nadeau and Burger were responsible for 11 of them. Combined, the two went 11-for-26 (.423) with two walks, three RBIs and three runs scored. 

Despite standout performances from Burger and Nadeau, the Nittany Lions are looking to put a full team effort into the two-game series against West Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The big thing is we want to try to continue to improve our collective toughness as a group," Cooper said. "We also want to eliminate negative thoughts. It doesn't' matter who puts it in your head. We need to control what we can control and then we will go from there."

The Nittany Lions will travel to Morgantown on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to take on West Virginia.

Checking in from Brazil: Day 2

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In the second update from Brazil, Penn State women's volleyball details its first match as well as a tasty dinner.  

Checking in from Brazil: Day 2

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.


After a full day of traveling, we arrived at our hotel in Sao Paulo and had a great lunch in the restaurant that included steak, pasta, seafood and so much more.

After lunch, we had time to get situated and prepare for our 5:30 p.m. match. We played Sao Caetano, which is a club team here in Brazil. To open the match, we exchanged gifts and gave Sao Caetano Penn State t-shirts and they gave us a huge box of tasty chocolates. It was a good match and we managed to win all four sets with the scores of 25-10, 25-16, 25-8, and 25-10.


After the game, we took a group picture with players on both teams and thanked them for hosting us. It was awesome seeing our team back in action playing some unfamiliar faces across the net.



For dinner, we went to the amazing Vivano Steakhouse. There was a huge salad and sushi bar and the waiters continuously brought out portions of meat or other foods to choose from. Not bad ending the day with some good ol' meat sweats! The restaurant was delicious and everyone had more than enough to eat. 

Throughout the day, both players and coaches have slowly but surely been learning a few words in Portuguese to communicate with the locals.

We can't thank the Booster Club enough for these opportunities and can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us! 

Emily Sciorra #2

By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The regular season has passed and the postseason is finally here. It's been a long road for the Nittany Lions but now as they have gotten through all their games, practices and classes, they have finally made it to the point they have been looking forward to all season long.

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By Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The regular season has passed and the postseason is finally here. It's been a long road for the Nittany Lions but now as they have gotten through all their games, practices and classes, they have finally made it to the point they have been looking forward to all season long.


"I think this is the best part of the season," senior Abby Smucker said, while also talking about where the team left off last year in its tournament success. "We're just itching to get back to that spot and ultimately move further."


That excitement and hunger to accomplish more has been a driving force behind the team all season. But as the postseason begins, Penn State will also have redemption on its mind.


The two-seeded Blue and White's first round draw in the Big Ten Tournament will be familiar foe in three-seeded Northwestern, making it a rematch from last year's tournament semifinals.


In that matchup, the Nittany Lions fell to the Wildcats in a low-scoring 9-6 affair and would not be able to repeat their 2015 tournament title performance. Penn State in the end would have the last laugh, however, as they went deeper than their Chicago-based rivals in the NCAA tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four before falling to eventual champion North Carolina.


"Northwestern's going to offer us a tough battle, they always do, but I think we wouldn't want to play anyone else," Smucker said. "Having that tough competition on Friday, if we come out on top, will just prepare us for the championship game on Sunday."


A win Friday night against Northwestern will only bring with it an even tougher challenge. Waiting to face them on Sunday afternoon will be the victor of the Maryland-Johns Hopkins game.


Johns Hopkins this season gave the Nittany Lions a run for their money in a 16-10 bout that saw Penn State come out on top. Meanwhile, tournament host Maryland handed Penn State it's second loss of the regular season in potentially Happy Valley's final game this year. Either way, the road to the tourney title will be far from a walk in the park as any matchup presents a worthy challenge.


While the team knows the mountain they will have to climb in order to reach their ultimate goals of taking home both the Big Ten and NCAA championships, the players remain calm and poised.


This is a team that is stacked with big-game experience and has no need to act because they have been there before. Even the sophomores were a part of the deep NCAA that took place last May, so every player with at least one year's experience has had its chance to play under the spotlight that comes with national play.


Senior Natalie Schmitt feels this type of experience is one of the team's greatest assets and that they will be taking into battle with them the knowledge of how to thrive under pressure.


"We know we have to play hard and then be on top [of things] for the next game," Schmitt said.


The team also brings with them a new level of expectations, something the Nittany Lions will have to be aware of come tournament time.


"It's fun being the underdogs but I think maybe we're now under a little more pressure so we've got to keep working hard through the tough games," Schmitt said.


Along with the drive to succeed the calming presence of vast experience, the Lions will also be motivated by the added feeling of mortality in postseason play. With a unit this tightly knit after years of playing together, these players will do anything they can to keep pushing forward in order to get one more game with the teammates they share such a close bond with.


"Missy has said you never know which play is going to win the game," junior Katie O'Donnell said. "Give every moment everything you have, especially in postseason when it could be your last game, you don't know when it's going to be over." 

The end of the season is on the horizon, but with experience and confidence this Nittany Lion team has, the group is ready to make a final push. 

Checking in from Brazil: Day 1

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Travel day for the Nittany Lions was a success as Penn State women's volleyball arrived safely in Brazil for its foreign tour. Catch up on the excitement in the first update from Lainy Pierce. 

Checking in from Brazil: Day 1

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 5-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 


Hi everyone it's Lainy! 

Today we began our travels to Brazil. We boarded the bus at Rec Hall around 12:30 p.m. and took off to JFK International Airport. Spirits were high and full of excitement. I think we must have taken in some laughing gas though because for the first hour of the trip we all had the giggles. We arrived at the airport after a long bus ride and grabbed some quick food together before getting to our gate.

Everything we have done so far has been in a big group and we've stressed to everyone the importance of sticking together and not wandering off alone, despite some of our curious minds. 

The flight was a total of nine hours. Most of us sat next to familiar faces and we were able to entertain ourselves with movies, games or books. Once the lights turned off, so did ours. Some girls were able to sleep the entire trip, which I think is a blessing, but most of us caught a couple hours of sleep before landing in São Paulo. 


As we started our descent, our faces were glued to the windows to try and get a first look at where we were headed. It really is a concrete jungle. After landing, we went through customs, got our luggage and headed to the bus to drive a little over an hour to our hotel. 

20170505_112102.jpgAlthough the trip took about a full day of traveling in total, we didn't care. It was an experience in itself and every single person on this trip is so excited and grateful for the experience and adventure ahead of us. 

Thank you to all who helped make this happen. We hope to make you all proud, win some games and indulge in the Brazilian culture. Stay tuned!


Lainy Pierce #8 

By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the regular season begins to wind down, the Penn State softball team must prepare to say goodbye to another class of seniors. The Class of 2017 marks head coach Amanda Lehotak's first recruiting class at Penn State and is the first group to play under her for all four year. They come from every corner of the country and are looking to leave Happy Valley on a high note.


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the regular season begins to wind down, the Penn State softball team must prepare to say goodbye to another class of graduates. The Class of 2017 marks the first group to play for head coach Amanda Lehotak all four years. They come from every corner of the country and are looking to leave Happy Valley on a high note. 

Kristina Brackpool
The first baseman out of Valencia, California has started 169 games in her career as a Nittany Lion. She has been an anchor at first base the past three years and currently has a .289 batting average on the season. Coming to State College from the other side of the country requires a lot of travel, but that's exactly what Brackpool loves to do with her team. 

"My favorite memory is travelling all across the country and seeing how big our fan base is," Brackpool. "There's so many Penn Staters all over the country and no matter where we go, whether it's Texas or Seattle or Colorado, there's Penn Staters everywhere."

Brackpool will not be graduating this May and is instead staying for a fifth year. However, she'll still be involved with the softball program as an assistant to Lehotak for next season. Once she completes her degree next spring, Brackpool plans to go to medical school.

Jess Haug
Haug has only been a Nittany Lion for the last two seasons, when she transferred to Penn State after playing at Temple for one year. She also played basketball at Penn State Abington for a year. When she got to Happy Valley for her junior year, she walked on to the team, which has been her favorite memory in a blue and white uniform so far.

"My favorite memory was last year when I transferred here and ended up walking on to the team," Haug said. "Coach Tek gave me a chance and it ended up working out so I'm always appreciative and thankful for that opportunity."

As of now, Haug doesn't have anything lined up for post-graduation, but she plans on enjoying the summer while she continues to look for jobs.


Marlaina Laubach
Laubach has been a force on the pitching mound this season, and for much of her career as well. She's Lehotak's go-to pitcher and leads the pitching staff in innings played. From Northampton, Pennsylvania, she heads towards the final stretch of her career with a 3.49 ERA and 318 strikeouts. 

"Playing for coach Tek has actually been really fun, she has been pretty much my biggest advocate in my four years here," Laubach said. "She's always held me to a high standard and I really appreciate that so I'm successful because of her." 

Laubach, a psychology major, doesn't have any definite plans lined up for after graduation but hopes to enjoy the summer before she has to take her GREs for grad school.

 Shelby Miller
Miller came to Penn State from Sugar Land, Texas and has been a trusty hitter ever since arriving at Beard Field. Her career batting average* sits at .319 and sits in second place on the career RBI list with 118. Since arriving on campus four years ago, her favorite memory is when the team travelled to Texas to play and she got to show her teammates her home.

"My favorite memory from Penn State softball is when we went to Texas because I'm from Texas and I got to show everybody what Texas is about and the Texas food that I miss so much," Miller said.

Miller currently doesn't have anything lined up for after graduation, but she plans to take a year off and then apply for grad school so that she can hopefully become a physical therapist.

Mia Monopoli
The graduating redshirt junior catcher has played in 65 career games as a Nittany Lion, including 37 games and 25 starts in 2017.  Monopoli is hitting .206 this season with four doubles and five runs batted in.  Heading into her final home series, she has had some great moments in the Blue and White.  

"My favorite Penn State softball memory was getting to start the first home game my first year here," she said.  "It was such an honor to me, I've never smiled bigger.  Seeing my name on that big screen was worth every blood, sweat, and tear that ever went into my training" 

Following graduating the California native will be heading home to work in her hometown area of San Francisco, and there are she will be taking lessons from the diamond to her next path. 

"I have countless lessons that I will take away from softball but mainly I will take away how much a positive attitude can do for you," Monopoli said. 

 "You have to appreciate and respect the whole process," she added.  "And that goes for any job or passion!" 

Sam Shanahan
Shanahan has gone back and forth as right fielder and DP this season, and has succeeded at both. The Seattle, Washington native has played in 42 games this season, which are the most games in a season in her career. As she looks ahead to the future, Shanahan is looking to take the lessons she learned from softball with her in the real world. 

"The one thing I'll take from softball is you have to put in the hard work everyday to get the results," Shanahan said. "I definitely have understood what hard work takes and I definitely will take that into my future."

Shanahan plans on going to grad school after graduation so that she can one day become a registered dietitian.

Student Managers
Penn State softball also has two student managers that are graduating. Alex Comonitski and Jon Herzing have both been managers for three years, with Comonitski starting her freshman year and Herzing started his sophomore year. Comonitski took a year off when she studied abroad her junior year. 

After playing softball in high school and fielding some offers from small Division 1 schools, Comonitski came into Penn State hoping to be involved with the program somehow. 

"I knew that Coach Tek was new so I started emailing the secretary and I asked if they needed help in any capacity in the office or anything so that I could get involved somehow," Comonitski said. "And luckily because [Lehotak] was new and she had a whole new staff and needed student managers so I've been doing it ever since." 

Herzing originally worked for the grounds crew at Beard Field and when the team was looking for a new manager his sophomore year, he thought it would be a good opportunity.

"I think it's just the collective experience of all the people I've met and the experiences I've gotten to have, like travelling with the team," Herzing said. "I've gotten to see a lot of great places and I've really made a lot of good friends on all these trips and from being around the team." 

Senior Day will take place when the Nittany Lions conclude the regular season with a home series against No. 4 Minnesota. The six graduates will be honored before the series finale on Sunday, May 7 at 1 p.m.

All About Details Ahead of B1G Championship

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Come Thursday, Penn State men's lacrosse (12-2, 3-2 Big Ten) is set to face Maryland once again this season, only this time in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament, while the Terrapins come in as the top seed. 

The last time the two teams met, Maryland came out on top with a 15-11 victory over the Nittany Lions. Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions are looking at this week's game with a new perspective and renewed confidence. 

"I think we've learned a lot from that time," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We lost a couple games to Maryland and Johns Hopkins, but then we won a couple of big games coming down the stretch. So I think this team is battle tested, not just physically but I think mentally, we're better prepared that if things don't go our way early I'm hopeful that we'll battle back." 

The tournament, which is being hosted by Ohio State, will be played at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, which is typically home to the Buckeye soccer programs. The grass field will provide a new challenge, as both Maryland and Penn State play on turf fields at home. 

"I think since both teams are field-turf teams, adjusting to grass is going to be a push," Tambroni said. "I don't think it will affect either team's advantage. It does take a little while to get used to it and having only two days, knowing we gave them [Monday] off because of exams and travel the day before, may not work in our favor but I think they'll adjust quickly."

The team will only have two days of practice on grass before Thursday's opening faceoff, but the Nittany Lions aren't too worried about an added challenge. 

"It's a little nicer on the knees," senior attackman Nick Aponte said. "It's just stuff like the ball kind of dies, it doesn't bounce that well, so it was great to practice on and I think the field [at Ohio State] is just like that. It's great to have that opportunity to play today and tomorrow before we get to Ohio State." 

Tambroni said he's looking for his team to make a few key improvements before Thursday too, specifically working on consistency in possession time. 

"There's a lot of different ways you can earn possessions, certainly the faceoff is the one that is going to highlight the majority of those possessions but ground ball plays, rides, clears, better possessions for us in the offensive end and eliminating careless turnovers," Tambroni said.

He expanded by explaining that Maryland exposed Penn State's weaknesses last time around, which allowed them to dominate possessions. Tambroni said that the team's likelihood of winning the first game in the tournament will go hand in hand with the small adjustments. With a victory on Thursday the Nittany Lions will either face No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 Johns Hopkins in the Championship game Saturday.

"I think if we can just do a better job in each one of those areas, of just pushing the advantage towards Penn State, maybe just one in each one of those areas that makes a big difference, not just for offense but for defense," Tambroni said. "It gives them a chance to catch their breath against a really good offensive team, and it gives our offense another opportunity to be on the field."

Lions Optimistic Despite Season-Ending Setback

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State looks toward the future despite a season-ending setback in a five-set loss to Hawaii in the NCAA Opening Round. 

Lions Optimistic Despite Season-Ending Setback

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn State's 2017 season officially came to a close in the NCAA Opening Round on the road at St. John Arena. Although uncomfortably reflective of season dotted with highs and lows, the fifth-seeded Nittany Lions were once again resilient, but ultimately came up short in a five-set loss to fourth-seeded Hawaii.

In an opening set that featured 12 ties and four lead changes, the Nittany Lions and the Rainbow Warriors set the tone early, beginning the back-and-forth battle with run after run.

As Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik mentioned just last week though, the game of volleyball is all about momentum and come Tuesday evening, Penn State happened to find itself on the wrong side of the momentum swing.

With the Nittany lions owning a four-point lead in set one, 10-6, the Rainbow Warriors battled back with a 5-0 run to take over a one-point lead, 11-10, causing Penn State to call a timeout. 

Kevin Gear came out of the break with a kill to halt the streak, sparking a 7-3 stretch that sent Penn State ahead with a comfortable cushion, 17-14, this time forcing Hawaii to call timeout. The Nittany Lions forged ahead despite pressure from the Rainbow Warriors, arriving at 23-23, which was nearly set point for the Nittany Lions before an overruled touch call. Penn State quickly regrouped, closing out the set 25-23 off a stuff block from Matt Callaway and Cal Mende.

Trailing by as many as five in the second set 12-7, Penn State called its first timeout of the frame. Shifting the momentum once again, the Nittany Lions rallied out of the break, scoring four straight capped by a Chris Nugent kill to arrive within one, 12-11, prompting Hawaii to call a timeout.

Gear ripped a kill off the overpass out of the break to open a 10-8 stretch that put Penn State in solid position to pull ahead 2-0 in the match, leading 22-19. The Nittany Lions couldn't shake the Rainbow Warriors though, as they climbed back to fend off a pair of set point attempts before securing a 27-25 win to the tie match, 1-1.

In yet another back-and-forth beginning, Penn State broke open a 9-all tie in the third set with a 7-3 run to take over a 15-12 advantage at the media timeout. Nugent and Mende quickly combined for back-to-back kills out of the break to begin a streaky stretch that saw the Nittany Lions reload to build a five-point lead, 21-16, forcing Hawaii's final timeout of the stanza. Penn State had no trouble cruising to a 25-17 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match at the intermission.

A different team emerged from the locker room though, one oddly similar to a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" conundrum that Pavlik noted has challenged his relatively young squad throughout the season.

"Games one, two and three we were right there doing everything we wanted and our first contacts kept us in there," Pavlik said. "Games four and five, all of the sudden the shrapnel exploded. There was no real consistency, we couldn't run the offense that we were running."

Imposing physicality and athleticism, the Rainbow Warriors forced the Nittany Lions into two-pass situations that left the Nittany Lions seemingly rattled. 

"I would say they just stayed clean," Gear said. "They were able to get some touches on some balls and turn them on us and we able to run off a couple of points. That's just something we couldn't sustain."

While the sting of the loss will certainly linger, there's no doubt that it's fueling the motivation for 2018. No greater is that motivation for standout true freshman Mende, a first team All-EIVA selection. 

Earning AVCA All-America honorable mention distinction, Mende is one of just two true freshmen to earn to a selection to one of the three AVCA All-America teams (first team, second team, honorable mention) this year. His All-American caliber offensive firepower shined against Hawaii, as he finished with a team-high 18 kills, one of 15 double-digit performances on the year.

"I think he has been somebody who has been a constant all year," Pavlik said. "He has accumulated information, processed it, thrown out what was not necessary and kept was necessary to change his game and improve his game." 

For Mende, the bright lights of the big stage were no reason to be concerned as he and redshirt freshman setter Luke Braswell stepped to the court for their first NCAA Tournament action.

"It was nice to be at Ohio State, we played here before so it's our third game here," Mende said. "Eventually, I think halfway through the first set, it was just another volleyball game."

Despite the usual growing pains of the season, Pavlik has nothing but pride for the endurance and perseverance and display this year, often coming by way of on-the-fly position changes due to injury, resulting in pleasant surprises and clutch contributions. 

"We can't wait to get started again with the youth that we have coming back and have experienced some highs and lows, certainly tonight as one example but I'm so proud of this team for what they've fought through and the resiliency that they've showed through the whole year," Pavlik said. "Everything has the arrow pointed up and sometimes you have to experience a storm before you can really, really like the rainbow." 

NCAA Men's Volleyball Pregame Reading

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Pregame reading ahead of Penn State's NCAA opening round matchup against Hawaii.  

NCAA Men's Volleyball Pregame Reading

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VIDEO: Pavlik Previews NCAA Tournament Opening Round

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn State men's volleyball has arrived in Columbus, set to kick off the NCAA Tournament in the opening round match against Hawaii Tuesday evening at St. John Arena.

The Nittany Lions left Happy Valley Sunday morning, arriving at Ohio State with time to get in a practice. Penn State hosted one more practice Monday evening before a serve and pass session on gameday.


AVCA All-Americans
Penn State saw two Nittany Lions earn AVCA All-America honors Monday. Senior Chris Nugent earned second team honors while Mende picked up honorable mention distinction. While Mende's honor is the first of his career, Nugent's marks his second, having earned honorable mention laurels last year.

Both Mende and Nugent have been atop the Nittany Lion offense this year with Nugent averaging 3.26 kills per set and Mende close behind at 3.23 kills per set, with each ranking seventh and sixth in the NCAA national standings, respectively.

Experience Counts
Penn State and Hawaii last met in the play-in round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament on the road in Palo Alto, California at Stanford. Of the nine Nittany Lions to see the court in the four-set win (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25), three are still currently on the roster. Among the trio, Nugent finished third on the team with 15 kills on .400 hitting, adding five digs and two blocks. 

As Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik noted earlier last week, while postseason familiarity does help, what it really comes down to is each individual managing a variety of outside distractions and extra responsibilities in addition to what's happening on the court.

Student Athletes
Part of managing postseason responsibilities in May also means finals. To ensure Nittany Lions are not falling behind, Penn State associate director for counseling, eligibility and compliance and academic counselor Jim Weaver is busy setting up time slots and proctoring exams right here on location in Columbus, Ohio.


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