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Gulibon Starts Season With Impressive Win

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10518528.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Jimmy Gulibon didn't have to wait long to get thrown into the fire.

On Sunday, when the Penn State wrestling team opened its season against Lehigh, the 133-pounder found himself matched up against the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the nation at his weight, junior Mason Beckman.

During an afternoon in which the Nittany Lions raised their fourth consecutive national championship banner, Gulibon gave arguably the best performance of his career, beating the All-American with a convincing 8-3 win that highlighted the team's 24-10 victory.

"Jimmy's good," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He knows how to wrestle, he's tough and he just did what he does. I thought falling behind early and keeping his poise ... that was good to see. It was a good start for him."

The falling behind occurred when Gulibon was taken down by Beckman just 21 seconds into the bout. Instead of allowing his deficit to increase, the sophomore ended the first period with a series of moves that turned the tide of the match.

After getting an escape, Gulibon pressured Beckman until he was able to score a takedown and put the junior on his back for two near fall points to turn a 2-1 disadvantage into a 5-2 lead at the end of one period.

From that point, Gulibon stayed in control, picking up an escape and a takedown in the second period that led to the eventually 8-3 decision.

"I felt pretty strong," Gulibon said. "I was a little hesitant towards the end, I think I could have shot a little more but I felt good."

It was a big moment for Gulibon, and not just because it was an upset win over one of the nation's best grapplers at his weight.

For starters, it was a better result for the Nittany Lion than the last time he faced Beckman. When Penn State defeated Lehigh 22-12 last season in its second match of 2013, Gulibon made his dual meet debut against the Mountain Hawks star and fell to him in a tight 7-6 match.

"We've wrestled a good bit," Gulibon said. "Last year we wrestled once. Every time it was fun. It was just fun to go out there and wrestle."

More importantly though, the victory gives Gulibon plenty of confidence moving forward with the Nittany Lions season just beginning.

Last season, the 133-pounder lost his first four dual matches before notching his first career dual victory with a dominant 15-0 tech fall over Indiana's Chris Caton.

Though Gulibon finished the year strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, he entered the 2014-'15 campaign looking to improve on last year's 18-15 mark.

Now that he has begun the season on a high note, the sky is the limit for the Latrobe, Pennsylvania native.

"Obviously [Gulibon's win] helped us with the team score but I think that was big for him," senior Matt Brown said. "I think that's going to help his confidence even more."

For Sanderson, the best part of Gulibon's win wasn't the takedowns or the back points. It was seeing the sophomore actually enjoy himself on the mat.

One of the most soft-spoken members of the team, Gulibon was hard on himself during his first year as a starter. At the same time, no one in program has ever doubted his talent or his work ethic.

"I think he just got off to a bad start last year," Sanderson said. "We were trying to get him to smile and just enjoy what he was doing. But today, he ran off the mat and and he was smiling. So that's a good sign because Jimmy knows how to wrestle and he's good enough to win a national championship but you still have to believe in yourself and enjoy what you're doing.

"I think everyone was happy for Jimmy because you want to see him win that match and give him a good start to the season. He's going to be tough to beat now."

Gulibon's victory highlighted an afternoon that had plenty of big moments, including freshman 165-pounder Garett Hammond's first ever victory (an 8-3 win over Santiago Martinez) and a dominant pin by Brown against Marshall Peppleman at 174.

Even with a collection of new faces in their lineup, the Nittany Lions find themselves in a familiar position after one match, with a 1-0 record.

"I think this is great. We had to come out and wrestle hard," Sanderson said. "[Lehigh] is obviously motivated and they want to come in and beat us like we want to beat them. They did their homework and made it a fun match." 

Nittany Lions Top Big Ten Newcomers

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10518569.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team welcomed the Big Ten's two newest members for the first time in conference competition over the weekend.

Thanks to a pair of consistent outings, Penn State (24-3, 12-2) logged back-to-back sweeps against Rutgers and Maryland on Friday and Saturday, respectively, inside Rec Hall.

On Friday evening, after senior Micha Hancock's opening serve led to the first point of the match, Penn State cruised through the first set by creating a strong 14-4 lead. Rutgers mounted a small rally, but the Nittany Lions were able to close out the first set with a 25-11 win on a solo block by freshman Ali Frantti.

Hancock opened up Penn State's scoring surge, once again, in the next set to produce a 6-2 lead. From there, the Lions rolled to a 25-12 set victory.

The Nittany Lions' momentum continued in the third set by generating another early advantage, 9-3. Rutgers put up a tough fight to end Penn State's drive, but they were unable to hold Penn State for long as the Nitany Lions' secured the match with a 25-10 win in the third set.

"I thought we played a pretty good first and third game," said coach Rose. "I thought we were a little sloppy in the second game, but it was a good opportunity to get some other people involved in the match...It was a good match for us, not a great match, but I'm pleased that we completed a little harder in the third game after slowing down in the second game."

Freshman Haleigh Washington recorded a team-high of 13 kills on .688 hitting along with two blocks and one dig. Frantti followed with nine kills, three blocks, seven digs, and two aces.

"My teammates, Megan, Micha, Aiyana, and Nia, have just really stepped up and helped me focus in the front row," said Washington. "Telling me where to go, what to do, just helping me keep my mental game on point, so it's easier for me to focus on the physical things."

There were some familiar faces at Rec Hall on Saturday evening as it was a homecoming for Terrapins coach Steve Aird and assistant coach Adam Hughes. Aird served as an assistant coach at Penn State for seven years prior. Hughes, a 2006 Penn State alum, was Penn State's Director of Volleyball Operations for the last four seasons before becoming the assistant coach at Maryland.

"I haven't seen Maryland for a number of years, so I would expect that [Steve] would do a real nice job as he did when he was here," said coach Rose. "They served tough. They blocked well and I think the previous coach left him with some good talent and they're doing a nice job with it. You know it's tough to come into the Big Ten, not for Steve and Hughes, because they know what's going on in the Big Ten, but for the players. You can't tell them what they don't know till they really experience it."

In the first set, the Nittany Lions took an early lead on a 6-1 run, but Maryland answered to make it 9-5. Nonetheless, the Lions finished off the set with a block by Hancock and Washington to win, 25-11.

It was a close matchup in the second set as the Terrapins opened with a 5-4 lead. Penn State surged to a 9-5 edge, but Maryland remained within striking distance when it set the score at 17-16. The Lions scored eight of the next 10 points to score a, 25-18.

Penn State capped off the match with a 25-15 win in the third set with a kill from Washington at match point.

"It's weird [to be against Aird and Hughes], but I'm happy for them and it's kind of cool to play against them," said junior Aiyana Whitney.

Overall, it was a good weekend for the Nittany Lions, who extended their winning streak to eight-straight matches.

"Anytime you can have a great crowd and good energy in the building and the young kids play well, you should feel pleased about that," said Rose.

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews vs. No. 17 Lehigh

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (1-0) opened the 2014-'15 season with a 24-10 victory over 17th-ranked Lehigh inside a sold out Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions scored victories in seven of the 10 bouts, including a pair of key wins from Jimmy Gulibon (133) and Matt Brown (174). Gulibon used a five-point first period to score an 8-3 victory against No. 2 Mason Beckman from Lehigh. Brown notched a pin against Marshall Peppelman (4:01) for the team's first bonus points of the season.

The Nittany Lions return to action on Nov. 21 at Pittsburgh. Check out some post-match reaction from head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions.

Nittany Lion Defense Relentless on Third Down

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10516091.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's mantra is simple.

He wants the Nittany Lions to play with relentless pursuit and never-ending pressure.

Those two things could not be more evident than when Penn State opponents face a third down.

The Nittany Lions do not sit back and hope to prevent opposing offenses from moving the first down sticks. They attack, and they do it from all angles in a swarming fashion.

Penn State's stifling defense limited Indiana to 3-for-17 on third down during Saturday's 13-7 win in Bloomington. With Saturday's effort, the Nittany Lions are now ranked eighth in the nation in third down defense. Opponents are a combined 42-of-138 on third down (30 percent) in 2014.

In the six Big Ten games this season, the Lions have limited their opponents to 29-of-95 on third down (30.5 percent). That mark includes a combined 4-of-31 during the past two games (12.9 percent).

A number of factors contribute into Penn State's success on third down this season, but keeping opponents to third-and-long situations plays a big role in the team's ability to bring pressure from a variety of places, thus forcing offenses in to uncomfortable situations.

In Saturday's case, the Nittany Lions set out to limit Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who came into the game as the nation's leading rusher at 162 yards per game. Coleman gained 71 yards on 20 carries (3.5 avg.), which broke a streak of 10-consecutive games of 100 yards or more.

"We just wanted to stay gap accountable to make sure everyone fit in the right spot on every single play," senior linebacker Mike Hull said. "They are the type of team that goes two yards, three yards and then (Coleman goes) 80 yards, so we knew that we just had to stay focused all game."

By limiting the Indiana ground attack, the Lions made the Hoosiers one-dimensional on third down. But it all started with the defense's ability to stay disciplined against a dynamic running back.

"He's a great back. He's a big kid with great speed, but it came down to everyone doing their job," junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel said. "For us to hold him to 70 yards was great for us, and we are happy with the outcome."

Simply put, the Nittany Lions have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball, and the unit's confidence level seemingly grows every week.

"It's a lot of fun (playing on this defense)," senior safety Adrian Amos said. "It's always fun when you are good (laughter). We are playing well, and Coach Shoop makes the perfect play calls. And we are clicking this year."

Penn State's third down success is one of six statistical categories that the Lions rank in the top 10 nationally in. The list includes No. 1 in the nation against the run (85.6 ypg), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.6 ypg) and No. 6 in the nation in scoring defense (16.6 ppg).

Indiana's offense had the ball 15 times on Saturday. Penn State forced the Hoosiers to punt 11 times, tallied two interceptions, stopped IU on downs and held IU to a missed field goal (51 yards).

"The defensive line played great, and it starts up front with those guys and Mike Hull's unit making so many tackles," Amos said. "We've been playing really well, and it starts up front."

With nine games in the record books for 2014, the Nittany Lions focus towards the 10th game on the schedule. Penn State and Temple will collide in Beaver Stadium on Saturday at noon (BTN). While the opponent changes, the same relentless mindset remains the same on defense.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Nittany Lions moved to 5-4 on the season with a 13-7 victory on Saturday at Indiana. Bill Belton's 92-yard touchdown run and a stifling effort from the Penn State defense fueled the Lions past the Hoosiers in Memorial Stadium. Hear from several Nittany Lions following the victory here.




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VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach James Franklin following Penn State's 13-7 victory at Indiana on Saturday.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Photo Blog - Penn State at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's matchup at Indiana.


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2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. For the second-straight season, the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana
 



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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Fit For Fritz event is back and ready for another record-breaking year in the fight against cancer.

The event, which originated in 2013 in support of track and field assistant coach Fritz Spence, is a Walk-A-Thon hosted at the Indoor Multi-Sport Complex and made possible by the collaboration of the coaching staff, the Penn State Athletics Department, and the track and field student-athletes.

In its inaugural year, the event raised just over $11,000. This year, the event returns with a few minor improvements.

"This year, we are incorporating a bone marrow drive where individuals can get swabbed and [added onto] the registry," said Spence. "[This year] we are having the community be a part of the Walk-A-Thon and be a part of the exercise stations and [they can] come in and compete with our student-athletes. I think that will be really exciting."

Last year, the Athletic Department and the Be The Match Program saw the incredible impact they could make when they joined together as one team for an important cause. However, Spence gained some knowledge and with the support of the Penn State community still remains a point of admiration for him and his family.

"I've learned how important it is to the community and how [supportive] the community is as a whole," Spence said. "I take strength and encouragement from everybody involved. The Penn State family comes in here and continues to support me [since] day one...it means a lot to me and my family."

Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities in exercise stations and around the track. However, the highlight of the weekend will probably be karaoke where volunteers will showcase their musical talents.

"My favorite [part] of the event is seeing everybody come in and walk around the track...and the karaoke. I can't sing to save my life but I might attempt. I'm not sure," he laughed.

In midst of the fun and games though, Spence wants the community to understand the importance of Fit For Fritz and that the affect it has lands far beyond the walls of Penn State.

"Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer and the more we can do to support and help, the better," Spence said. "[The bone marrow registry] is really important to me because last year I was in need of someone and it was really hard for me to find a match. I want the community to come out and support."

Fit For Fritz has joined forces with Be The Match Foundation in hopes to raise $12,000 this year. The event is set for next Sunday, Nov. 16th beginning at 10 a.m.

For more information on the event and how to donate visit
www.GoPSUSports.com and www.BeTheMatchFoundation.org.

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State men's soccer team is approaching the Big Ten Tournament a little differently this year.

"I've been on different sides of this thing," head coach Bob Warming said. "We want to win the Big Ten. The statistics show that the team that loses in the conference tournament goes deeper in the NCAA tournament. That was with the old format ... with the new model, we might as well just go ahead and win it."

Although some teams are wary of going far in the conference tournament for fear of being too tired when the NCAA Tournament rolls around, that isn't Penn State's plan.

This year, the Lions will have four days in between games if they can get past the Spartans. Their second game won't take place until Friday, November 14.

"We're going right through," senior forward Mikey Minutillo said. "I think we're going to go all the way until the end and win the conference tournament. We're playing good and it's a bummer we didn't win the Big Ten outright but we've still got the tournament to fall back on."

Both Warming and the players aren't going to lie. They're disappointed they weren't able to capture their third straight conference title.

Last Sunday against Northwestern, the Lions were 100 seconds away from securing the tie needed to win the regular-season championship before a double overtime goal from Mike Roberge gave them a heartbreaking 2-1 loss.

Needing Rutgers to tie or beat Maryland on Wednesday in order to still pull out a conference championship, the Nittany Lions weren't so lucky. The Terrapins defeated the Scarlet Nights, 3-2, at the same time Penn State wrapped up its regular-season with a 1-0 win over Akron.

"We were a 100 seconds away from winning our third one," Warming said. "That was massively disappointing and because we played so well. It was just disappointing how we lost.

"But to their credit, guys are back playing hard tonight (against Akron) and we can't control [the Maryland game] and just move on to the next thing."

Penn State will also have plenty of motivation because of the first-round matchup they've drawn.

While the Spartans won their regular season finale against Indiana on Wednesday 3-2, they've recently endured a tough stretch of their own, having gone 0-2-2 in four games after their win over Penn State.

"I think our guys are always itching to win," Warming said. "I think it's going to be an incredible tournament. I told the [other Big Ten] coaches in the conference call the other day, 'we have the best collection of goalkeepers I've ever seen in the history of any conference I've ever been in.'"

The last time the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten Tournament was in 2005, five years before Warming took over the program.

The mindset of the team isn't necessarily focused on ending that drought as much as it is on proving to the Big Ten it can still play at the level it was at earlier in the season.

Beating Akron on Wednesday was a good first step. The next step is stringing together consecutive victories, like the streak of seven in a row they had between Sept.13 and Oct. 4.

"We talked about it right before the [Akron] game," Minutillo said. "We got to get this win so we can carry it right into the conference tournament."