UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic
Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.
THON's 708 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or
sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric
cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State
Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.
To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than
$9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to
Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time
to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active
participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again
this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to
generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to
its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families
throughout the year.
Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016:
Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer,
Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke,
Va.) from football.
"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a
normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those
things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that
platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON
was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my
platform as best I could."
Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and
from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle,
Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.
Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily
Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.
Check out the GoPSUsports.com extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.
Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.
Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately
30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the
Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers
The THON event in Lasch is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every
year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take
photos, get autographs, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility
with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group
The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into
the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football
facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex
Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday. Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event. Athlete Hour Photo Gallery
Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2016 version of the dance-off.
The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.
As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.
We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.
Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016 Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon. Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.
"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.
4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016. Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The seventh-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team (28-5) travels to Des
Moines for a showdown with Hawaii (28-1) in the NCAA regional semifinals on
Friday at 8:30 p.m. (Live coverage on ESPN3).
The winner of the Penn State-Hawaii match will move on to face either No. 2 Minnesota
(28-4) or Illinois (21-12) on Saturday in the regional final at 6:30 p.m. live on
"Well, it's always great to still be playing this time of year," head coach
Russ Rose said. "We look forward to playing against a great opponent in Hawaii.
We've played against each other a number of times over the years. Their
performance last weekend; coming back and beating TCU, and then beating the SEC
champion Texas A&M, 3-0, on their home court was a clear indication that
they are playing great volleyball this time of year."
Penn State enters the weekend after knocking off Howard (3-0) and Dayton (3-1)
inside Rec Hall in the opening two rounds of the tournament. The Nittany Lions last met Hawaii in the 2009
national semifinals. Penn State is 5-0 against the Rainbow Wahine all-time.
Under the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament began its current 64-team setup,
the Nittany Lions have advanced to the third round of the tournament 13 straight years. The Lions have played in the regional finals in eight of the last nine
The NCAA field has been trimmed to 16 teams.
Penn State's quest for a return to the national semifinals goes through Wells
Fargo Arena this weekend. First up is a
clash with Hawaii on Friday.
Take a look through preview content to get ready for the regional round of the
VIDEO: NCAA Regionals Preview Video
Regional Semifinals Statistical Rundown
Feature Story Corner
Nittany Lions Head To Regionals By Sam DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa.-- The Penn State women's volleyball team is headed to Des Moines for the
NCAA Regionals after defeating Howard and Dayton this past weekend.
The road to the
national championship starts with a match against Hawaii on Friday night. If
the Nittany Lions defeat the Rainbow Wahine, they will move on to face the
winner of Minnesota-Illinois on Saturday. The winner of that match advances to
the national semifinals.
"All of the teams
at this point are good. There are 16 teams left and everybody has to win two games
to get to the Final Four," head coach Russ Rose said. "That's what the is
intent for all of the volleyball teams and players."
Setter Bryanna Weiskircher,
who is playing in her first NCAA Tournament after redshirting last season, said
she's excited to have made it to this point in the tournament.
"Our team has been
working really hard all year long and we have a great group of kids that have great
versatility in all aspects of the game," Weiskircher said. "We control our own
fate at this point. Coach always says, it's not who we play, it's how we play.
And it's a great opportunity for us."
Hawaii Hawaii is 28-1 on
the season and has the best winning percentage in the country. The Rainbow
Wahine advanced to the NCAA Regionals after defeating TCU and Texas A&M
last weekend. Penn State head coach Russ Rose said he is looking forward to
playing Hawaii, a familiar foe.
"It's always great
to be playing this time of year and we look forward to playing against a great
opponent in Hawaii. We've played against each other a number of times over the
years," Rose said. "Their performance over last weekend and coming back to beat
TCU and being able to beat the SEC Champion, Texas A&M, 3-0 on their home
court was a clear indication that they're playing great volleyball this time of
Rose also understands
the level of competition that the Rainbow Wahine brings to the court.
"They've got great size. The middles are big. They've got great right side
players and their two left side players are really good ball handlers. They're
a physical team," Rose said.
Hawaii plays in the
Big West conference. Rose said that some people may underestimate Hawaii because
of this, but their record shows that they can play.
"When somebody only
has a number one [in losses] after their name, you know they're really good. It
doesn't make a difference what conference you're in," Rose said. "It's hard to
be successful in a rally-sport [like] volleyball and certainly they play a lot
of teams that have great tradition and care about the sport at their
institution. I'm sure we'll have our hands full with a really good volleyball
Coaching Legends Penn State's Russ
Rose and Hawaii's Dave Shoji are two of the best coaches in collegiate
volleyball. They are the only two coaches with more than 1,000 wins in NCAA
Division I women's volleyball.
Shoji has 1,178
wins in his 41 seasons at Hawaii. Rose is the all-time leader in wins in NCAA Division
I women's volleyball with 1,189 wins in 37 seasons.
Rose said that when
he was doing his graduate work in the late 70's, Shoji's team was one of the
teams he tried to model his thoughts about the game after. Today, the two have
a great relationship.
"I don't look at it
as me against Dave, we've known each other for a long time. We'll want to beat
each other during the match and whoever wins will wish the other good luck,"
Minnesota-Illinois Minnesota, the Big
Ten champion, will face Illinois on Friday night. Penn State defeated Illinois
(21-12) in their only meeting of the season in October.
Minnesota is 28-4
and is coming off two tournament wins against Jackson State and Marquette. This
season, Penn State split with Minnesota (each team won one match). Rose noted
the strength of Minnesota's team this year.
setter, next to Carlini (Wisconsin), I thought she was the best setter in the
conference this year. They had a great season, a great performance," Rose said.
Rose also said that
there's an advantage to playing a Big Ten team in the tournament.
"One of the
benefits of going to a Regional with two other Big Ten teams is you don't have
to kill yourself on scouting because you're at least familiar with those two
teams," Rose said.
Courtney's Impact Deep at Penn State By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Co-captain Megan Courtney played in her final
match at Rec Hall last Saturday evening as Penn State defeated Dayton in the
second round of the NCAA tournament.
After the match point was scored, the handshakes between the Nittany
Lions and Flyers were finished and the waves of appreciation were given out to
the fans in the crowd, Courtney was the last person to jog off the court.
The Dayton, Ohio, native finished her home-court career with a win and
an advance in the tournament, but Courtney has left a defining impact on the history
of the Penn State women's volleyball team that will always help to inspire
future Nittany Lions.
"I don't want to regret anything [in the tournament]," said Courtney. "I
don't want to say 'What if?' I don't want to let me team down. I don't want to
let the coaching staff down, so it's not necessarily what can I do, it's what
can I do to help everyone else around me because when I'm helping people around
me, then other people can help those around them. It's 'what can I do to make
everyone else better?'"
Before attending Penn State, Courtney was already receiving numerous
accolades in high school. She was named the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year,
weighed in ats the fourth-ranked overall recruit in the nation and led her
team, the Archbishop Alter High School, to the Final Four State Championship
three times as a three-year captain.
But when head coach Russ Rose first noticed Courtney, she was not even
halfway through high school. Courtney was only 15 years old when she playing against
All-Americans, who won four-straight national titles, during a Penn State
volleyball summer camp.
"I first saw Megan when she was between her freshman and sophomore year
of high school, and she was at camp playing with a roster of players that are
now playing for USA Volleyball, and went on to win national championships,"
said coach Rose. "She was playing with them, and you would have had a difficult
time, if you were the outsider, picking the 14- or 15-year-old out of those
people. Her volleyball IQ has always been great."
Since starting her entire collegiate career under head coach Russ Rose, Courtney's
volleyball IQ has only continued to grow to make her into one of the most
versatile volleyball players in collegiate play.
In her freshman year, Courtney participated in all 36 matches, and started in
35 of them. Through practice, she was able to develop textbook blocks, passes,
serves and swings to notch honors for: Big Ten Freshman of the Year, AVCA
Mideast Region Freshman of the Year, Big Ten All-Freshman Team and more.
But this was only the beginning for Courtney. Since her arrival to Penn
State, she has helped lead the Nittany Lions to three straight appearances in
the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, as well as, back-to-back national
championship titles in 2013 and 2014. She was named the Most Outstanding Player
from last year's NCAA tournament.
"Fortunate for us, last year, during the final four, Courtney stepped
up, and was recognized as the MVP of the final four," said coach Rose. "You
know, that sums it up. She wasn't recognized by the Big Ten, but she went on
and did great things on the big stage."
During her final season of volleyball, Courtney's list of honorees and
achievements is still lengthening. She currently has 1,130 kills and 1,107 digs
recorded in her career, and is only the eighth player in the history of Penn
State to reach a 1,000 double-double.
If it wasn't for coach Rose's constant support and push to be the best,
Courtney would not be where she is today.
"I'm hard on Megan because Megan can handle me being hard on Megan,"
said coach Rose.
In a mere two weeks, Courtney will be graduating from Penn State, but
she still has more to prove in the rest of the tournament and her career.
Courtney and her fellow seniors are going for their third consecutive
national title this season. She has the resume and biography to prove what she
is capable of, but her biggest motivator for succeeding and ending her
collegiate volleyball career at a high level is to play to win.
"We have the most national championship experience on our staff and in
our gym, so that, especially with a team full of sophomores and freshmen
playing big roles, it's comforting, but it doesn't guarantee anything," said
Courtney. "I think that when situations do get tough, when we are put in a
position with our backs against the wall, it's a good chance for us to push
back and say 'We've been here before, we've come out on top. This is what we
did in that circumstance, maybe this will work. If not, what is it that we've
got to do to change it.' ...Our biggest motivation is that we don't want to feel
that emotion of losing again. Winning the national championship is great, but
it's the losing that really stings."
Next season, the 6-foot-1, brown-haired, outside hitter with the pink
ribbon in her hair will not be in the Penn State starting lineup, but
Courtney's hard work and success is something that won't be forgotten anytime
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a balanced
offense and a valiant team effort, the Penn State women's volleyball team
defeated Dayton (25-17, 13-25, 25-14, 25-17) in the NCAA second round on
Saturday night in Rec Hall.
"[Dayton] entered the match with the longest
winning streak in the country," said head coach Russ Rose. "We knew that it was
going to be a tough match...Dayton is a terrific opponent, and we feel fortune to
advance. We know it's never a given. It's always hard. Every match has its
challenges and this one is no different. I'm really thrilled with our effort
tonight, how we competed, especially after playing as poorly as we did in the
Redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore
Ali Frantti led the Nittany Lions offense with 14 kills each. Whitney hit .448,
while Frantti hit .407 and notched seven digs.
"I thought we did a real nice job
offensively," said coach Rose. "...I thought it really was a valiant effort. I
thought Ali played great tonight. Aiyana was great offensively."
Sophomores Heidi Thelen and Haleigh
Washington collected seven kills each. Thelen finished the night by hitting
.875, and Washington recorded a team-high of four blocks.
"Heidi made a great impact in the match and
on our team," said coach Rose.
Redshirt freshman Bryanna Weiskircher
assisted the offense by passing out 46 assists, adding along seven digs and
four blocks on Saturday night.
"Bryanna does a nice job of putting a good
ball up for the most part," said Thelen. "...It's a good thing to mix the ball
around because if you keep setting the same person every time, then the block
on the other side will just commit to that person, so when you open things, it
gets a little trickier for the other team to stop our hitters, so [Bryanna] did
a nice job."
On the defensive end, senior Megan Courtney
led the team with 15 digs, while also recording eight kills. Senior libero
Kendall Pierce finished second in digs with a career-high of 13 digs.
"Kendall and Megan did a great job
defensively," said coach Rose. "It's nice to advance."
Thelen opened the match with a kill for Penn
State's first point of the night. It was a back-and-forth matchup at the
beginning, but the Nittany Lions were able to take a six-point edge at 23-17,
and secure a 25-16 win in the first set.
In the second set, Dayton came out with five
consecutive points. Penn State continued to catch up throughout the set, but
the Flyers went on a 9-2 run to take the second set at 25-13.
"We side-out right out the gate as we've done
traditionally," said coach Rose. "I thought what happened was [Dayton] had
.556, and when somebody hits .556, it's not so much as to what you're not
doing, it's you can't stop them."
The Nittany Lions were able to rebound and
defeat the Flyers in the third and fourth sets to advance to the NCAA regional
semifinals for the 13th consecutive season. Penn State will take on Hawaii in
Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday evening.
"We started mixing up our serves in the third
and fourth game, but I thought we got a little better results from that, and it
was a nice team effort," said coach Rose. "It was nice to watch the kids out
DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa.- Penn State advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after a 3-0
victory over Howard on Friday night. The Nittany Lions are back in action on
Saturday, in the second round, to face the Dayton Flyers.
Penn State faced
Dayton last year in the second round of the tournament, as well, defeating the
Flyers by a score of 3-0.
Leading the team on
Friday night was senior Aiyana Whitney. She notched 10 kills on a .588 hitting
percentage and tallied two blocks. In last year's first round match against
Siena, she had eight kills on a .312 percentage and two blocks. Head coach Russ
Rose was pleased with Whitney's performance on Friday.
"She hit really
well. And that's not a shock," Rose said. "She's our best attacker, [she] has
been our best attacker and at times, is one of the best attackers in the
There is more on
the line during the tournament because you win or go home, but Whitney said this
match was similar to the regular season matches because she treats every
opponent the same.
"[It felt different because] it's more of a neutral site and it's definitely a
different routine for us and a little bit of a different atmosphere, but
ultimately [we are] treating every team the same and going out about our
preparation the same," Whitney said.
Whitney said playing
this first match in Rec Hall, on their home court, helped the Nittany Lions.
"It's definitely an advantage to play in your own gym and have your fans here,"
Whitney said. "It's always great to play at home, it's always an advantage."
With the win, the
Nittany Lions will play on their home court for the final time this season. The first serve in Saturday's second-round
match against Dayton is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Whitney's goal for
the match against Dayton? To be victorious.
"I just want to
win," Whitney said. "I want to get to Iowa."
PARK, Pa. - For the 26th consecutive season, Penn State will host the first and
second rounds of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament. The two-time defending
NCAA champion Nittany Lions (26-5) open the tournament against MEAC champ Howard
(18-13) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall.
The winner of the Penn State-Howard match will move on to face either Dayton
(26-5) or Villanova (25-8) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Dayton and Villanova
will meet in Rec Hall on Friday at 5 p.m.
For the Nittany Lions, they enter the tournament having gone 11-3 down the
stretch. Seniors Megan Courtney and Aiyana Whitney, along with sophomore
Haleigh Washington, were each named to the All-Big Ten team this week.
The Nittany Lions are one of nine Big Ten teams in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Minnesota
is the No. 2 seed, while Nebraska is the No 4 seed, Wisconsin is the No. 6
seed, Penn State is the No. 7 seed and Ohio State is the No. 12 seed. Illinois,
Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue received at-large bids into the tournament.
Now, it is win or go home for all 64 teams on the bracket. The 2015 NCAA Tournament
begins on Friday inside Rec Hall. Take an inside look Penn State and the NCAA
NCAA Tournament Preview
Round Statistical Rundown
Feature Story Corner Lions Shift Focus to 2015 NCAA Tournament By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is one of the only two collegiate
volleyball programs in the country to have been selected to participate in all
35 NCAA postseason tournaments since its inception in 1981. The women's
volleyball team holds a 90-27 record in the postseason and has won seven
On Sunday, the back-to-back defending NCAA national champions earned the
No. 7 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
"It's always exciting, this time of year, and there is always that unknown
about how your team is going to play and how the other team is going to play,
but that's why you play the game," said head coach Russ Rose.
Penn State finished the regular season with a 26-5 overall record, with a
15-5 record in Big Ten conference play.
"There were a number of years we were the top-seed, so there's different
pressures and expectations," said coach Rose. "Our last ten matches certainly
removed that expectation, but there's some players on the team that have had
great experience in the NCAA tournament, and the hope is that they all play
well and they enhance the play around them."
A Look Into the Tournament The Big Ten conference led all other leagues in selections to compete in
the NCAA Tournament.
In the 64-team field, where the top-16 teams are seeded, Penn State is
joined by eight other Big Ten squads: No. 2 Minnesota, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 6
Wisconsin, No. 12 Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan and Illinois.
"I think the Big Ten will do well," said coach Rose. "Early in the year
when we played Minnesota, I thought Minnesota was the best team we had played.
Even though we had lost the next week to Nebraska, I thought
Minnesota was the best team we've played. Right now, I would say that Minnesota
is still the best team that we've played, but from watching Wisconsin, I think
Wisconsin is playing the best of all the teams in the conference right now, so
I look forward to a lot of teams playing well. Purdue is playing especially
well, so the conference should do well. We want to do the best we can, but we
also want the other teams to have success."
After making three-straight national semifinal
appearances, senior Megan Courtney understands the pressure coming from the Big
Ten conference and how it prepared the Lions for the postseason.
"The Big Ten is really competitive, so on any given night, anyone can win,
and I think the same thing can be said about the tournament," said Courtney.
"It's do or die. If you win, you advance. If you don't, you go home thinking,
'What could have I done better?'...I think any team and every team has that
mindset of saying, 'I want to win. I don't want to go home,' and I think it's
the same way in the Big Ten. I think it's really competitive."
The top four seeded teams alongside No. 2 Minnesota and No.4 Nebraska are
No. 1 Southern California and No. 3 Texas. Outside of the Big Ten teams, there
are two teams Penn State faced during the regular season - Villanova and No. 8
Stanford. "What you've done doesn't really impact what you're going to do," said
coach Rose. "You need to be ready to play because there's another team on the
other side with uniforms, hope and dreams that are going to play, and do the
things they do well, and that's always the excitement of the championship."
In the Bracket The journey to the national championship is not an easy task. It takes six
perfect matches to get there, and each match gets tougher with every round.
The No. 7 Penn State women's volleyball team is joined by No. 2 Minnesota,
No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 15 Louisville as the seeded teams in the Des
Moines Regional bracket. If the Nittany Lions find their way to the regional
semifinals and finals, they will be held in Des Moines, Iowa. The national
semifinals and final match will be played at Century Link Center in Omaha, Neb.
Take an inside look at the other seeded teams in Penn State's quarter of the
No. 2 Minnesota (26-4) The Gophers were on a 15-match winning streak until Purdue ended their
streak in five sets. They won their last two matches against Ohio State and
Penn State and Minnesota split their matches from this season. Back in
September, then-No.1 Penn State outlasted then-No. 21 Minnesota in five sets
(25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 15-12) at Rec Hall. Later in the season, in
November, Minnesota cruised past Penn State in three straight sets to give the
Nittany Lions their third loss of the season.
Penn State owns a 45-9 advantage in the all-time series against Minnesota.
No. 10 Texas A&M (23-6) If Penn State makes to the third round, a potential opponent is 10th-seeded
SEC champion Texas A&M is coming off its most successful regular season
in school history with help from SEC player of the year Stephanie Aiple and
conference coach of the year Laurie Corbelli. The Aggies have won their past 14
No. 15 Louisville (24-6) Louisville dropped its final match of the season to Syracuse in three sets,
but the Cardinals enter the tournament as the ACC regular season champion.
Round One The seventh-seeded Lions will start the quest for a three-peat on Friday
against MEAC conference champion Howard (18-13) at 7:30 p.m. at Rec Hall. The
last time the Nittany Lions and the Bison met was on Sept. 28, 1979, with Penn
State claiming a 2-0 win.
"They're an enthusiastic team, very athletic, and there's a lot of ways to
play," said coach Rose. "There's a lot of different combinations that can give
teams opportunities, whether it's a team that's seeded or a team that's making
the tournament for the first time. We'll have to play well. That's how it is."
This is the Bison's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but Howard is
entering the tournament on a 13-match winning streak.
"It's always nice [to host the first and second rounds]," said senior Megan
Courtney. "It's nice not having Senior Night be the last game we play at Rec,
but it's considered an advantage, but I think any team can beat any team on any
given floor. I think Rec Hall is a great place to play, but just because we're
playing at Rec Hall, we're not guaranteed to win. We showed that this season
with a couple of losses at home, so it's more about how we play instead of who
we play or where we play. It's about how our team is playing at that given
The Final Tournament for Senior Class By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. -- It's the final go-around for the seniors of the Penn State women's volleyball
team. The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins this weekend and these
seniors are no strangers to the tournament. This group has made it to the national
semifinals three times and won two national championships together.
cared and had to work hard," Head Coach Russ Rose said. "You can't have the
success we've had in the past without the seniors."
The regular season
has come to a close, but this senior squad knows that there is still a lot more
work to be done. And they are not looking back on years past. This team is
focused on this season and the upcoming match against Howard on Friday.
seniors are focused on the present, having experience will help them during the
"We have the most
national championship experience on our staff, on our team and in our gym.
That, especially with a young team full of sophomores and freshmen playing big
roles, is comforting," senior Megan Courtney said. "But it doesn't necessarily
Courtney said that
when times get tough during tournament matches, the team is able to realize
they have been in this position before and still came out on top. They take
what they did in the past situations and apply it to the current situations.
as veterans also gives the seniors the opportunity to help younger players who
have never played in tournament before. Senior Kendall Pierce said that she
hopes to lead the younger players the same way she was led years ago.
From being taken
under the wing of older players, to being the senior guiding the young ones, it
has all come full circle for Pierce. And as her time in Blue and White comes to
a close, she said she's not sad, she's "ready to go."
"I can't look at it
as a countdown anymore. We did for a time. We said, 'We have 30 more days of
volleyball left,' but the countdown is surreal and it's not something we want
to focus on," Pierce said. "[It's] one game at a time and what you can do be
the best you can in that game."
One game at a time
- that is instilled in the minds of all of the players. They are focused. They
are prepared. And more than they want to win, they don't want to lose.
motivation is that we don't want to feel emotion of losing again. Winning the
National Championship is great, but it's the losing that really stings,"
emotions and coming together as a team is also key in this tournament.
"I hope we can
treat every game as equal and we don't get too hype about something, but also
aren't afraid to go after and see what we can do," Pierce said. "If we can
really focus in and get our freshmen, sophomores, juniors and our senior class
just feeling good and as one team going into this tournament, I think we'll be
Pierce and the
Nittany Lions will face Howard in Rec Hall on Friday night. Having the first
round of tournament on your home court is exciting, but Courtney says it's
"It's considered an
advantage, but I think any team can beat any team on any given floor. Rec Hall
is a great place to play, but that doesn't mean just because we're playing at
Rec [Hall] were guaranteed a win," Courtney said. "It's about how we play,
instead of who we play or where we play. It's about how our team is playing at
that given moment."
Catch the game in
Rec Hall on Friday at 7:30 p.m. If the Nittany Lions defeat Howard, they will
square off against the winner of the Dayton-Villanova match on Saturday night
at 7:30 p.m.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to
take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.
As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the
Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State
Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unwavering support you
give every team on campus. Penn State's
teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.
As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus
would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give
them throughout the athletic season.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
GoPSUsports.com talks with senior defensive specialist Kendall Pierce in
advance of Penn State's final two matches of the regular season, including
Wednesday's Senior Night contest against Northwestern.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior defensive specialist Laura Broerman has
not made an appearance on the volleyball court this season due to an injury,
but that has not stopped her from continuing to be an important component of
the women's volleyball team.
This season, Broerman has relocated from the volleyball court to press
row to do the color commentary and analysis for every match, home and away, for
the team's radio broadcasts on GoPSUsports.com.
"It's a really cool experience," said Broerman. "You get to see the game
in a different way. I get to display my volleyball knowledge to anyone who's
listening. Maybe give them a better view of what's exactly going on, what we're
doing wrong, what we're doing right and things we can improve on from the
After Broerman discovered that she was injured and would be out for the
season, head coach Russ Rose asked her if she wanted to announce for the radio,
which would still allow her to travel with the team and be a part of the
"I was really appreciative that Penn State requested she be allowed to
travel as the announcer for the matches, and it was approved by the conference
because I think it's tough enough being her, but it's even tougher not being
able to travel," said coach Rose. "She's not allowed to play or practice, but
she's allowed to continue with her personality, her role with the group and being
able to interact with the team. I think it's one of the good things in college
athletics when it's about the players and the participation, and it's not on
winning or losing."
Even though Broerman hasn't physically played volleyball this season,
her volleyball IQ and mental skills have greatly improved throughout the
matches this year.
"It's completely outsider once I'm up in that booth with the headphones
on, so I can see exactly what the other team is doing, and I can focus more on
our team's mistakes," said Broerman. "Normally, when they're on the bench, you
may be a little partial to what's going on or that move a person's made, but
now I can take a step back and see exactly what they were supposed to do, and
what could have helped them in this situation or that situation."
Coach Rose agrees that having the ability to see a match from a
different point of view is always a valuable experience.
"I believe it would assist her by seeing the game differently on the
sidelines and watching and recognizing how she might have done it differently
if she was playing," said coach Rose. "Those things are advantageous to
players; some players are visual learners. I think it certainly gives her a different
angle to see things, and I think that's a good thing."
Before announcing each match, Broerman prepares for each opponent the
same way she would as if she would be playing the match.
"I go into [each match] a lot similar as how I would go into it as if I
was not injured this year because I still go through the scouting report," said
Broerman. "We have video we watch, so I get a feel for the team, like their
tendencies, what kind of hitter they are, who's their better passer, so kind of
the same way, but I also have to go with a more outsider's perspective rather
than so intimate."
Broerman began playing volleyball at a very young age after watching her
two older sisters, Sarah and Rachel, play the sport. She was always by her
sisters' sides during their practices. When a club volleyball facility opened
up right down the street from Broerman's neighborhood, she knew she had to sign
"My sisters set a great path for me," said Broerman. "They're such great
examples to give me something to compete against every day."
Sarah and Rachel have constantly supported and guided Broerman
throughout her life in volleyball. But the three of them share a something else
in common - all three have sustained the same injuries. This creates a bond
that only the Broerman sisters can understand.
"It's just, unfortunately, a really bad trend in our family, this type
of injury, so we kind of know how each other are feeling and what body
capabilities we're able to do or not able to do at certain time frames," said Broerman.
"We're really good at being able to sympathize and also push each other in
rehab. They make sure I'm doing my rehab every day, and to making sure I
measure how far back I am and really pushing myself to get back [on the
In addition to pushing Broerman to get back on the volleyball court, Sarah
and Rachel have supported her in what she is doing this season. Her sisters have
listened to almost every single one of the radio broadcasts for the volleyball
matches this season.
"They've been begging me to give them a shout out, but I haven't really
yet," said Broerman. "There hasn't been the right opportunity, but they said a
lot of the times, they would mute the TV or BTN, and turn on my radio version,
so it's cool that they support in something even where I'm not playing."
Nonetheless, Broerman, a biology major, does not have plans to switch to
the broadcast journalism major anytime soon.
"I'm definitely a math and sciences kind of person," said Broerman.
"Broadcast has been completely out of my dimension...It's nothing that I had ever
seen me doing, anything like that in the future, but it's cool. It could be a
hobby in the future, we'll see."
Broadcast journalism might not be something that Broerman is interested
in, but after doing color commentary and learning more about the Penn State
women's volleyball team and other collegiate volleyball teams, she envisions a
future in coaching.
"I actually didn't want to go into coaching until a little bit ago, and
being up [in press row], I can definitely see a little more coaching ability in
me," said Broerman. "I see the game. I can communicate what they can do to
change it, and it's kind of made me want to be a coach a little more."
Even with the constant support and encouragement, it can be difficult to
not have a personal connection with everything that happens on the court.
"It's definitely really hard to separate my emotions on the radio," said
Broerman. "There are times where I watch myself wanting to yell a curse word or
two, and having to hold it back and trying to be impartial. You see me antsy up
there, or I'll be shaking my fist. I'll be happy when someone does something
well and upset when something doesn't go our way, so it's definitely really
hard to separate those emotions. I think the biggest thing that helps me is
Jack (Milewski), who does the [play-by-play] with me. He's really good about
knowing when I'm a little too close to a play, and he'll take the lead from
There are times when Broerman wishes she was on the court to be there
for her teammates, but the group has a connection that can't be avoided.
"My favorite part is that a few people on our team, every single game,
will give us a few code words or words to say on the radio, like a funny word,
like aglet or some catchphrase or something like that," said Broerman. "It's
really cool to watch, and also have key words that I can incorporate into it."
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore Haleigh Washington shined for the Nittany
Lions, but the team fell short, falling in four sets to the Michigan Wolverines
on Wednesday night in Rec Hall. Penn State won the first set handily, 25-14 but
then dropped the next three sets by a score of 25-22.
Washington led the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions with a superb effort while
accumulating 12 kills .714 hitting. Washington only took 14 attempts on the
match, but made the most of her opportunities committing only one error. The
sophomore middle is statistically one of the best middle's in the nation and
leads Penn State by a large margin in hitting percentage. Between the two
matches played against Michigan this season - Penn State won a five setter earlier
on this year in Ann Arbor - Washington totaled 29 kills on a hitting percentage
"Haleigh hit very well," said Head coach Russ Rose. "The main problem was that
we couldn't get the ball to her enough tonight."
As a team, the Nittany Lions fell short Wednesday night, dropping their second
match to a Big Ten opponent in a row. Coach Rose simply said that the Nittany
Lions needed to play better volleyball if they want to achieve the success they
aspire to down the stretch.
"We need to play better," said Rose. "I didn't think we played very well at
Minnesota and we definitely played poorly tonight."
Speaking of coming down the stretch, this part of the season, in all sports, is
usually the toughest time for athletes. It's when the playoff push really
begins, but it is also the time when the players are the most tired and Rose
also seemed to indicate that this was the case for a Penn State team who has
only lost four matches all season, but the two most recently.
"I think that the kids are really tired," said Rose. "Some of them are just gassed
and I didn't do a great job trying to rest them."
The Nittany Lions also had one of the most challenging slates in the Big Ten
this season, playing seven of their last eight matches on the road. According
to Rose, no other team in the conference had that alignment and an extended time
away from home can certainly have an effect on a team.
"We had a really challenging schedule with seven of eight on the road," said
Rose. "You know it's really taking its toll on a couple of kids who we call on
to do a lot of things."
However, the stretch also presents another challenge for coaches, how much do
you rest these players? Many times a healthy, well-rested team does not always
translate into a fresh team who will consistently show up; there is a fine
balance that needs to be kept between rest and preparation.
"When we rest them, it doesn't seem that they are ready to play after that,"
said Rose. "You know it's kind of a fine balancing point and you can do it for
many years and still not be able to get it right."
Penn State has three matches left in the conference, playing Maryland,
Northwestern and Nebraska, two of which took them to five sets. The Nittany
Lions will have to find that fine balance between preparation and relaxation as
they look ahead to the final nine days of the regular season.