By Samantha DelRosso,
GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After a successful Big Ten opening weekend, the Penn State women's volleyball team is focusing on being consistent on the court as conference play continues on the road.
Junior Megan Courtney said consistency will put the No. 3-ranked team on the road to success.
"[The emphasis this week is on] consistency and being able turn out points one after the other," Courtney said. "And believing in each other that we can beat whoever the opponent is."
The Big Ten Conference is rigorous week in and week out. Head coach Russ Rose noted that the conference season is a constant battle for 20 matches. There are nine weekends remaining in conference play. Rose said the team can't get too high with a win or too down with a loss because it's a two and a half month-long schedule.
"[The Big Ten season] is way more of a marathon than a sprint, so you really can't get yourself all tied up in one chapter of the big book," Rose said.
The Nittany Lions are off to a good start at 2-0 in conference play. But at this point in the "marathon", Courtney said there are still aspects of the game that need improvement.
"It's not about just winning the first two games in the conference. We could lose the next 18 and not be anywhere near our end goal," Courtney said. "It's about remaining consistent, keeping a good mindset and saying 'yes, it's great to win, but we also need to learn from the mistakes that we made in the first two games.'"
In addition to its competitiveness, the Big Ten is also known for its attendance at venues and thrilling atmosphere during matches. Freshman Simone Lee got her first taste of the Big Ten environment during the matches against Wisconsin and Minnesota this weekend.
"The crowd was cheering no matter what. It was electric in the air," Lee said. "But we did a pretty good job of tuning it all out and really focusing on the game and what we had to do to win."
The two matches were a good introduction into the Big Ten for Lee and many of the other freshmen. Lee said it prepared her for Penn State's match on Friday against Nebraska, a team whose facility is even louder and more energetic than Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The Bob Devaney Sports Center, where the Cornhuskers play, leads the nation in attendance. Rose said Cornhusker fans love their women's volleyball team and urge them on appropriately throughout the match.
"Nebraska is incredible. The best part is they don't cheer for technically Nebraska. They're all wearing red, but if the rally goes on forever, they cheer for volleyball. They cheer for good volleyball whether Penn State wins the rally or Nebraska does," Courtney said.
Not only is Nebraska a team with a consistently packed house, the Cornhuskers are among the nation's elite teams.
Coming in at No. 8, Nebraska is 2-0 in Big Ten play. Nebraska is a very athletic team with a physical style of play.
"They're a big team that's going to take a big swing and can count on another full gym to help them have the energy when times are tough," Rose said. "Nebraska won both matches last weekend, so they're in the same situation that we are heading into week number two."
Heading into their second weekend of Big Ten matches, the Nittany Lions' approach remains the same. The group understands the importance of playing at a high level every time it steps on the floor.
"Every weekend in the Big Ten you'd better be focused," Rose said. "You're playing teams that are ranked, you're playing programs that have great tradition or you're playing teams that need to bounce back after a tough weekend."
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By Samantha DelRosso,
GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are lacing up their race day shoes and heading west to Notre Dame to compete in their first NCAA qualifying invitational of the season on Friday afternoon.
It is still early in the year, but with highly ranked teams like No. 12 New Mexico (women) and the No. 10 BYU Cougars (men) in attendance, this weekend will be an opportunity for Penn State to check out what its opponents have in store for this season's quest to nationals.
Competing among 10 ranked teams, the Nittany Lion men's team (RV) will be competing for points towards qualifying for the NCAA Championships in November.
Coming off an individual victory at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational three weeks ago, fifth-year senior Matt Fischer is eager for the weekend noting that the invitational is a chance for the Nittany Lions to start making their goals into realities.
"We want to be the sharpest we've been all year," said Fischer. "[This meet] will be out first real test when everyone will be going all out to get a good performance in and give us a chance to score some points. It'll be a good test for us against Princeton and if we can go head-to-head with those teams, it will be a big deal for us."
The No. 30 women's team will race at Notre Dame as one of three ranked teams competing. Motivated by the competition, the teams will approach the race with the same focused and determined mentality it is well known for.
"This [meet is at] a bigger field and it's our first travel meet but other than that it is no different, [we have the] same goals. Every race we are going in with the mentality to beat the other teams," said senior Katie Rodden.
This weekend also marks the beginning of the end for some Nittany Lions as five seniors, including Fischer and Rodden, along with Leigha Anderson, Abigail Benson and Lauren Mills, will begin the journey to the NCAA Championships for the last time.
However, the group's senior status is the least of their worries right now as the veterans, like Fischer, are quietly focused on accomplishing some personal goals that they hope will bring overall victory to the team.
"The biggest thing for me is to make it the best year I've had and to keep improving," said Fischer. "I have some personal goals in my head that I don't want to define quite yet because we are early in the season but I think we are definitely in the position to qualify [for nationals] as a team, which I've never had a chance to do...that would be an awesome cap to my career here."
Head coach John Gondak is looking forward to an excitement-packed weekend, as well ensuring that the team has put in plenty of hard work over the last two weeks and is confident they will see the results.
"We are [walking into] a deep competition and it presents a different style of race," said Gondak. "We are going to test ourselves. This is a turning point in our season. These meets start to count now and we have to make sure that when we step out there we are ready to compete."
While the teams know there are many things at stake beginning with this race, through it all, they are most excited to do what they do best - have fun and run hard.
Penn State's first race will be the women's 5k at 4:15 p.m. followed by the men's five-mile run at 5 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer spoke
with the media on Thursday. The Nittany
Lions travel to Michigan on Oct. 11. Take a look at a Q&A with Spencer during
the bye week.
Q: How do you feel like your unit has played thus far in 2014?
Spencer: "I think we started out of the gates pretty fast, especially one guy in particular, Anthony Zettel. The group is doing a good job. I wouldn't say great, but we are doing a good job. They know the level of expectation has risen every week. We want them to continue to get better. I think areas of improvement would be consistency in our pad level and gap control. Sometimes we try to make plays, but sometimes we get out of our gap when we are trying to make the plays. We have to continue doing things within the framework of the defense and those things will happen."
Q: How do you break down which techniques are better for different guys?
Spencer: "When you are around the guys and practice with them and take them through different things you see that skill set. Like Austin Johnson is a power to finesse guy - power first and then finesse. He's got a unique skill set in the fact that he can play like a guy who is 280 pounds, but he is 315 pounds. Just never limiting those guys to, alright, this is the way we do it or this is the way you have to do it. Deion (Barnes) is a different type of pass rusher than C.J. (Olaniyan). So what I try to do is maximize Deion's ability through the framework of the defense by letting him do things that he is good at. And then let C.J. do things he is good at...You learn that every player has a different skill set. In order to maximize that, you have to allow him to do things that are beneficial to his skill set."
Q: Can you talk about how your nickname 'Chaos' fits you and the position you coach?
Spencer: "Coach Galt kind of gave me that nickname. It was always part of my D-Line catchphrase. Playing with organized chaos. I always kind of used that word. If you get a chance to meet me, I'm kind of hyper (laughter). I'm running around all the time. When we were at Vanderbilt, Coach Galt said one day for the guys to follow Coach Chaos running around on the field. From then on, the guys called me that. For the position, you have to have that. I always talk to the guys about matching my intensity every day. I'm not going to come onto the field without great energy. The guys kind of feed off of that. That's not a position where you can chill and hang out. Those guys gotta go all the time. When they see their coach, they feed off of that."
Q: What can you say about C.J. Olaniyan and his strengths as a player and as a captain?
Spencer: "An unbelievably mature individual. One thing, C.J. is a father. He has a little daughter. When you have that situation that automatically makes you gain maturity. He's a guy that I bounce things off of when I want to talk to the group. I'll go to him and talk to him about leadership and where some things are that he can help me with. When you start giving a guy a leadership role and you start talking to him and including him in the process, he takes it to heart and is able to project it onto the field. It is a pleasure to coach the guy. He is very intelligent. He takes unbelievable notes. He asks great questions. He is very detailed in his analyzing of each opponent."
Q: Anthony Zettel's personality kind of matches yours. What is it about the way he plays the game that makes it so similar?
Spencer: "He goes hard from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. He's got unbelievable work ethic. He loves football. He loves what he does. He plays hard. He's a real disciplined guy. I let him be himself much like Coach Franklin lets me be myself. And I think that helps me, and that helps Anthony...He's so intense. He's going to come with great energy. It's a pleasure to coach a guy like that."
Q: You had a chance to scrimmage with some of your younger guys this week. Did any of those guys pop out to you?
Spencer: "I think Antoine White has a bright future here. He has unbelievable twitch. He gets off the football. He can be a really good pass rusher. He's going to be a guy you are talking about for years to come here. We are really excited about him. Also, Torrence Brown is another guy that we had recruited when we were at Vanderbilt...He is a pleasant surprise. He's very dynamic. He was a small school state basketball player of the year in Alabama, so he is a great athlete. He has a vertical better than 34 or 35 inches. He's going to give you that dynamic pass rusher that you need. And then Curtis Cothran as a guy I'm very excited bout. As the future goes on, I think I've got some guys who can do some things and make some noise in this conference."
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with junior Megan
Courtney for an update on the Nittany Lions heading into this weekend's matches
at Nebraska and Iowa.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to
the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex.
The Nittany Lions are off on Saturday. Penn State travels to Michigan on Oct.
11 (7 p.m. on ESPN2).
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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Reporters, photographers and video cameras filled the media room of Pegula Ice Arena Tuesday afternoon for the annual Penn State men's hockey media day.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky fielded questions for 30 minutes about the Big Ten Conference, the overall excitement surrounding the upcoming season and the development of the team over the past year.
Here are some sights and sounds of this year's men's hockey media day.
With an endless list of firsts now behind the team, the Lions know what to expect of this season. They have played their first Division I game. They have played their first game in Pegula Ice Arena. They have played their first Big Ten game.
Furthermore, the Nittany Lions have an almost identical roster to that of last year's team. With the loss of only one, and the addition of three freshmen, the Lions are mature and much more prepared for the season that lies ahead.
ready to pick up from where they left off last season.
"This is the first year we have that continuity," said Gadowsky. "We know where we are. We know who we're starting with. Although there are three unknowns, the basic core of the team is the same. We expect that we're going to be a lot further ahead come October 10 than we were October 11 last year on our opening night, and basically due to the fact that everybody is together. We've been through it with our systems. We've been through it against an opponent. We were able to play against the top teams in the nation, including conference games where it's so important. As a team maturity, we're way ahead."
Big Ten Conference
Playing in the same conference as teams like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin allows the Lions to compete at a high level day in and day out. Teams are getting stronger and more skilled each year, and this season is no exception.
"Every other program in the Big Ten, that's what makes this so exciting, has a tremendous history, has a lot of success, whether it was nationally in the CCHA or the WCHA," said Gadowsky. "Their goal is to get better, just like ours, so with Penn State getting better, I really hope to see a lot more parity, but at the same time when you play in the Big Ten with these hockey programs, you're going to be playing someone great every night."
Penn State will play a total 20 conference games this season, the first of which will be at Michigan on Nov. 21.
During the off-season, the Nittany Lions announced a change in captaincy, awarding defenseman Patrick Koudys the "C" for the 2014-'15 run.
Although many fans wondered about the impact of the switch on not only the team, but also former captain Tommy Olczyk, Gadowsky reinforced this change will ultimately assist the Lions in learning a very important lesson.
"It establishes the fact that you don't have to wear a letter to be a great leader, and we do want to establish that," Gadowsky said. "This is one way we can do it. At the same time, Patrick Koudys, he certainly has earned that, and he's earned the respect of the team."
Koudys, who is a Washington Capitals draft pick, proved his dedication to Penn State hockey, and was a unanimous decision for the position following a player vote.
"He's just a man," Gadowsky said of Koudys. "He's a manimal. He's the guy. Everybody can see it, so he's the guy."
Looking ahead, the Lions are scheduled to make the trek to Alaska for games on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, which is a trip Gadowsky and the team are both looking forward to.
"Probably the main reason is I really enjoyed my time in Alaska," Gadowsky said of why he wanted his team to play these games. "They love hockey, and I would like to share that experience with our guys. For the majority of our team, they've never been to Alaska, so this is one great way to see it."
Unlike the majority of the team, forward Casey Bailey makes the trip to Alaska regularly. These games will allow the Alaska-native to play in his home state in front of family and friends.
"The guy who's most versed in it is Casey Bailey, so he's actually going to present to the team the week that we go up there about the Do's and the Don't's of traveling in Alaska," said Gadowsky.
"If things don't go well," he jokingly added, "it's not our fault. It's his."
James Franklin Transcript - Sept. 30
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are idle on Saturday for the first time in 2014. Head coach James Franklin addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon during the weekly Big Ten conference call to provide an update on the team's bye week.
"We are in a bye week this week, so we are excited to get out on the field today and make some corrections," Franklin said. "We will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, and then go on the road recruiting Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And then get back going again on Sunday with our next opponent. We are looking forward to it. Probably, the bye week came at a great time for us with our lack of depth at some positions. We are banged up, and this is coming at a great time for us."
The Nittany Lions watched film and practice on Sunday before the players had their normal day off on Monday. The team resumed its practice week on Tuesday with meetings and practice. The squad will do the same on Wednesday before having a few days off. The coaching staff will hit the road recruiting while the players finish the week academically. The team will then have the weekend off and reconvene on Sunday to begin preparations for Michigan.
The bye week is a great chance to spend more time and reps on correcting the issues the team is looking to fix after five weeks of football. Additionally, it is an opportunity to get the young players on the roster more experience.
"We are going to try and get our young guys as much work as possible this week to continue their development," Franklin said. "We will try to make our corrections with the older guys while still taking some of the banging off of their bodies so that we can get into our next game being as fresh as we possibly can and be as healthy as possibly can. That's kind of our priority this week. We have a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to work on. You know, let's do those things and then move on."
Franklin often says that winning minimizes a team's issues and losing magnifies the issues. However, regardless of the outcome, the issues are still there. That being said, the team has approached the week with the mindset that it is a great opportunity to get better.
"If you handle this the right way, it can turn into a positive," Franklin said. "It forces you to deal with some of the issues that you have."
Senior linebacker Mike Hull said it best on a Tuesday morning conference call.
"You are going to face adversity. It's how you respond to it," Hull said.
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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With two big wins over Northwestern and Illinois, the Penn State women's soccer team swept its first Big Ten home weekend.
"Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday is the longest and toughest stretch of our season and to end it with three wins is massive," said head coach Erica Walsh.
The team is known for playing its best at Jeffery Field. In the last three years, the Lions have only lost two home games.
"It's the atmosphere here; it's perfect, said midfielder Salina Williford. "We get so excited playing here because of how much support that is in the community. We owe it to the people who come watch us to put on a show."
The first game of the weekend was against Northwester, and the Lions played strong and defeated the Wildcats, 4-1.
With goals scored by Raquel Rodriguez, Chapic, Megan Schafer, and Williford, the entire team was on fire.
"The first 25 minutes was some of the best soccer I've seen in a long time," Walsh said. "We talk about this being the best place to play college soccer and in that first half, I absolutely felt it."
Rolling off of the momentum of Friday's game, the Lions faced their second Big Ten team of the weekend, llinois, on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams came out extremely strong displaying solid defense and the first half of the game remained scoreless.
The first goal of the game was made by freshman Frannie Crouse in the second half. Emily Hurd passed it over from the left side of the box to the middle, allowing the Lions to make the scoreboard.
Only 47 seconds after the team scored, Illinois tied the game.
Motivated for a win, the team used the Fighting Illini's goal to keep their aggression up.
"It's very hard when they come back that quickly," Crouse said. "You just have to keep your composure and never stop trying. We fought tonight and came out with a great win."
The team continued to take shots to try to regain its lead.
Then with 83:11 on the clock, Selina Williford saved the day with her goal to ensure the Lion's win.
"It's very humbling to score another goal," Williford said. "I credit my entire team because they are always keeping me going.
"I always want to keep improving. As a team, we never want to feel like we're content. We always want to feel like we're still moving and not taking our foot off the gas."
Last year, Williford primarily played defense but has been making her way up the field this season.
Williford just recently had her first career goal but proved this weekend she is a force to be reckon with on offense.
"Salina Williford has been the best surprise so far this season," Walsh said. "She played back for us last season, but this is the best I've seen her play."
Alongside Williford, the 2014 women's soccer team is packed with talented players who have been helping the team continue its winning streak.
"I think one of the biggest strengths about this team is that we're taking players off the bench and they're delivering," said Walsh. "Every player on this team is playing their best and it's such a great feeling as a coach knowing those players on the bench can always help lift the team."
After three home games this week, the Lions hit the road to face Minnesota.
The team is keeping its intensity up for every game and is looking strong as the Big Ten season continues.
Said Walsh, "This team believes right now."
The facility, which helped convince Conway to attend Penn State, is merely one of the reasons he has found himself in State College this year. Now, the forward is excited for the season to begin and more than ready to get his first real taste of hockey as a Nittany Lion.
Although he grew up in England, Conway has been playing hockey in the states for a few years now. He will once again find himself a long way from home and from his family this season.
The freshman currently holds dual citizenship in Great Britain and in Canada, the home countries of both his parents.
"My mom's English, and my dad's Canadian," Conway explained. "My dad played hockey in the states and in Canada. At an older age, he moved over there to play hockey in England. That's where he ended his career and met my mom, so that's how it happened."
Despite being away from home, the forward knows with certainty that choosing Penn State was the right decision for the advancement of both his hockey and academic careers. Almost immediately following Conway's first tour of the arena and of campus, he was hooked on the university and all that it had to offer.
"I had a tour around campus," said Conway. "It was actually my first visit, and looking at the facilities, it was unbelievable. The weight room just got put in the day before I came here, so I was pretty excited to see that with all the weights and stuff in there.
"Coach [Keith] Fisher took me up to the student section, right at the top, and it was an unbelievable view up there. He took me around campus too, and it was so pretty. I couldn't say no."
Last season, the 6-foot forward found himself competing for the USHL's Indiana Ice, a team he helped lead to the Clark Cup title during the 2013-'14 season.
Conway tallied 33 goals during the year and was tied for first in the league with a plus-40 rating. Additionally, he recorded the first four-goal game in the team's history, demonstrating his dominance on the ice.
"I think a lot of it is mental toughness, on and off the ice," Conway explained of his personal success and the success of his previous team. "I think our coach did a nice job last year of making us do the little things right, and I'm hoping to bring that to this team this year."
Conway is also looking to help the Lions skill-wise this season. He is a forward that likes to not only work the corners and take pucks to the net, but he also keeps his eyes focused, looking for open teammates to make plays.
Even with his past experiences, Conway knows making the jump from junior hockey to the collegiate level will be a process, and he has already begun to experience some of the changes that go hand-in-hand with the transition.
"I feel like a lot of sticks go flying everywhere in college hockey compared to junior hockey," Conway said. "The guys in college hockey are a lot stronger than the guys in junior hockey and a lot more physical. The tempo is pretty much the same, but I'm excited to play some games here."
Looking forward, Conway is anxiously awaiting the moment he gets to put on his jersey, lace up his skates and take the ice at Pegula Ice Arena for his first game as a Nittany Lion. He has a few dates circled on his calendar, but there is not a single game the freshman is more excited for than the season opener.
"Definitely the home opener," Conway said. "My dad is coming to the first game, and I have a couple friends that are too. I'm really excited to play in front of them. The student section sold out in like three minutes, so I'm pretty pumped about that too."
By Jennifer Hudson, GoPSUsports.com Student Athlete Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's fencing team participated in multiple events during the 50th Anniversary of Women in Sport earlier this month.
The weekend kicked off with a Friday reception at the Nittany Lion Inn, followed on Saturday by a breakfast at the All Sports Museum and a tailgate at Medlar Field before the UMass football game. Sunday concluded with a brunch and ceremony of the Women in Sports 50th Anniversary at the Bryce Jordan Center.
A few members on the current team volunteered for each event and were able to meet and talk to the alums of the team.
There were five decades of women's fencers that were represented at the events, the 1960s-2000s, so it was inspirational for everyone to learn about the fencing team then and now.
"Getting to know the alumni is always a great experience," said Clarisse Luminet, captain of the women's team. "Because of my position within the fencing team and my role as a captain, it was great to get feedback from their own experiences as leaders, and understand how that role has changed in 50 years."
Johanna Hall, a current assistant coach and Penn State fencing alumna (Class of '88), played a big role in organizing the event for everyone to enjoy.
"It allowed us to connect with former fencers as well as meet others on the team who paved the way for the program," said Hall. "Being recognized during the football game and being able to share that with hundreds of other women athletes from Penn State was very special."
Another alum, Beth Alphin, former head coach (1968-'85), was flattered she had the opportunity to speak at the Sunday brunch about coaching at Penn State "back then".
Like Alphin, the fencing alumni enjoyed themselves and even had the chance to meet up for a fencing dinner on Saturday evening.
"It was a true joy to see so many of the fencers and hear how their lives have progressed since Penn State," said Alphin. "I enjoyed watching them reconnect with each other. It should come as no surprise that upon meeting them it was as if no time had passed. We were family then and still today. I think my very favorite thing was watching the smiles and hearing the familiar laughs of people who were so much a part of my life for a few years."
The next time the current Penn State Fencing team will reconnect with the former fencers is April 18, 2015 in the annual alumni meet and team banquet.
Here are a list of accomplishments our Penn State women's fencing team has achieved over the years:
- 2 AIAW Team Championships
- 1 AIAW Individual Champion
- 1 NCAA Women's Team Championship
- 13 NCAA Men's and Women's Combined Team Championships
- 9 Individual NCAA Champions (14 titles)
- 54 All-Americans (121 times)
- 11 World Championships participants (to 26 championships)
- 12 World University Games participants (to 15 championships)
- 3 Olympians (to 5 Olympiads)
- 8 Pan Am Games participants (to 11 Games)
The Penn State Women's Fencing team would like to recognize all of the alums who participated this weekend. It was great to meet you all and we hope to see you visit again soon!
Alyson Van Alstyne
Jennifer Hudson is a senior on the women's fencing team.