Recently in Women's Volleyball Category

Freshman Ali Frantti is Ready to Take on California

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
10274760.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Six years ago, a young Ali Frantti sent head coach Russ Rose an email, telling him that she wanted to be a part of the Penn State women's volleyball team.

Now, as a freshman in college, that dream has come true.

After graduating from high school early, Frantti arrived in Happy Valley last January. In just six months, she has found herself in the team's starting lineup.

How did the Spring Grove, Illinois, native earn that spot so early on in her collegiate career?

Head coach Russ Rose said he was first impressed with her ability to score. After graduating 60 percent of the team's points, it was crucial to find players to fill the void. Frantti was, and is, a key figure in that process.

"We needed individuals that were prepared to cut a lot of the slack offensively. She came in and her best skill was attacking," Rose said. "That's what I thought her main calling card was when she arrived."

Her ability to score points started seven years ago when she first started playing volleyball.

She began participating in local volleyball camps as a fifth-grader, after her mother encouraged her to try it out. Frantti fell in love with the sport and she began playing competitively in sixth grade.

From then on, Frantti watched Penn State play, watching them win multiple national titles, and knew this is where she wanted to play.

So when the time came to pick a college, the choice was easy.

"I thought it was a great place. Academically, and I just love the community. [I love] how every sports team is like one team and everyone supports each other," Frantti said. "It was a great fit and I'm so lucky to be here."

To her, being on the Penn State women's volleyball team is an honor.

"I couldn't be prouder to represent Penn State and their work ethic and what they stand for," Frantti said.

This weekend, Frantti will have her first taste of tough competition, when the team travels to California to play No. 2 Stanford and UCLA in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.

UCLA is 2-1, after falling to Loyola Marymount last weekend. Two seasons ago, Penn State lost to UCLA in the NCAA regionals, and the Bruins went on to win the national title.

Stanford beat two Top 20 teams on the road last weekend. Rose watched Stanford beat Nebraska last weekend and said the team played like a veteran team.

"Their 2012 recruiting class was the No. 1 class in the country. We've played against those kids the last couple of years and they keep getting better," Rose said.

Matching up against Stanford is hard to prepare for the entire team, but especially for the freshmen.

Frantti said the team is preparing by running plays in the gym and utilizing the scouting reports. Aside from that, Rose said playing this weekend at home was also a way to prepare the young players for the weekend ahead. 

Frantti, the other freshmen and the upperclassmen know how good Stanford is, but Rose said they scheduled this tournament for a reason - to play good teams.

"I think that the Pac-12 and the Big Ten are the best conferences in the country in college volleyball," Rose said. "It helps us to play good teams before we play great teams in our conference. Certainly UCLA and Stanford fit the bill in my mind."

Despite it being her first match on the road, Frantti is fired up to play Stanford.

"I can't wait to get there. They are going to be a great team and were expecting them to come full force on us. We're going to go in there and play Penn State Volleyball."

The No. 1 Nittany Lions take on Stanford at 9 p.m. ET on Friday and will face UCLA on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Freshmen Key in Opening Weekend Wins

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10267672.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --The Nittany Lions kicked off their first weekend of the season with success as champions of the Penn State Classic inside Rec Hall. The team defeated TCU, Iona and William & Mary and won each match in three sets.

Much of the success came from offensive powerhouse Ali Frantti. Frantti, a freshman outside hitter, set the bar high in her collegiate debut. She was the leading scorer against TCU and Iona. Frantti also proved her blocking skills in all three matches.

Head coach Russ Rose was impressed with the freshman's performance. He said it was a "marvelous introduction" into college volleyball for her and never doubted starting her this weekend.

"Alli has been starting since she showed up. She's pretty much been on the starting side since her first breath on campus," Rose said.

In the first match against TCU, Frantti had 13 kills and hit at a .500 hitting percentage. She also had four blocks.

Frantti said that the support from the veterans helped her shake off her nerves in the first match.

Veterans like setter Micha Hancock and outside hitter Megan Courtney also led the No. 1 Nittany Lions to victory in their first match of the season. Hancock dished out 37 assists and had two kills and two blocks. Courtney had 12 kills on .556 hitting. Senior Nia Grant had seven kills and two aces.

Penn State beat the Horned Frogs in three sets, 25-10, 25-17 and 25-17, respectively.

Rose noted that blocking and serving needs improvement, but was happy with the team's first performance of the season.

"I feel fortunate that we played as well as we did this evening," Rose said.

Freshman Simone Lee also had her collegiate volleyball debut this weekend. Against TCU, she recorded six kills. Like Frantti, the encouragement from the upperclassmen helped Lee stay focused and calm throughout the game. 

"For me, going in to the back row and seeing everyone on the sidelines saying 'good job', 'keep it up', 'you can do it', they're always so encouraging and helping you no matter what," Lee said. "All the support and everything that comes with Rec Hall is just amazing."

The next match against Iona was equally as successful, as the Lions defeated the Gaels in three sets (25-13, 25-14, 25-11).

Frantti led the offense again with 11 kills, two aces, two digs and two blocks. Freshman Heidi Thelen made her debut against Iona, with eight kills and a team-high three blocks.

Again, Rose was impressed with the performance of the freshmen players.

"If you can average five or six errors per game in the first weekend of the year, with 3 freshman on the floor at times, you have to feel good not even taking into account who is on the other side," Rose said.

In the final match of the weekend against William & Mary, Penn State defeated the Tribe in straight sets (25-13, 25-12, 25-9). Freshmen Lee and Frantti and redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney, who was nine for nine in kills, led the offense in Saturday night's match.

Lee recorded 10 kills, four digs, and a block. This was her first collegiate double-digit kill performance. Frantti had seven kills, four digs and four blocks. Frantti was also named Penn State Classic Most Outstanding Player.

Rose said it was a great tournament for Frantti to kick off her college career. He said he will have an even better parameter of "how bright the star might shine" after the matches next weekend against No. 3 Stanford and UCLA.

"She had a great weekend and she plays really hard and plays with a big smile on her face. I think those things are for real, I don't think they're manufactured. That's just the way she is," Rose said.

Hancock, who made the All-Tournament team, acknowledged the performance of the freshmen and the support of the upperclassmen.

"Alli had a great weekend. She passed really well, hit well, no one backed down or curled up when the lights turned on and that's what you like to see in your teammates," Hancock said. "I think the upperclassmen did a really good job of trying to talk to them and keep them focused on what's going on; not so much of what's going on around you, but what's going on in the match."

Next up for the Nittany Lions is a trip to Palo Alto, California, to play Stanford and UCLA. 

Defending Champions Are Back with Young Roster

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10253095.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Having won five of the last seven NCAA titles, expectations are always high for the Penn State women's volleyball team. Despite losing a host of production from last year's squad, the squad expected to be among the nation's elite.

The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lions graduated six seniors last season, including blocking powerhouse Katie Slay to back row weapon Deja McClendon.  Head coach Russ Rose will turn to a roster blending eight new faces with veterans as the Lions look ahead to the start of 2014.

"You enjoy great players when they're here and you hope the players that come after them respect the tradition and work hard to make those same sacrifices and contributions," Rose said.

After being on a team with players like McClendon, Slay and Ariel Scott for many years, it may be hard for some players to get used to so many new faces. Defensive specialist Dominique Gonzalez, who, as a senior, will be a team leader this year, said she enjoys having the new faces in the gym because they are excited to be there and are working hard to get better.

Junior outside hitter Megan Courtney will also be taking on more of a leadership role this year. One of her jobs will be to instill what needs to get done in the younger players.  Being an older player also means that she will become a go-to hitter. Courtney says that even though she is a veteran, she will still need to perform well because the novice players this year are "studs."

"If I play well, everyone else will be play well and that's what I can do to make the team better," Courtney said.

Just two years ago, Courtney was entering her freshman season, so she knows what the newcomers are going through right now. As a freshman, Courtney played in 36 matches and said that sometimes her head would get clustered during the match. She understands that this may happen to the freshmen this year, but it's her job as an older player to make sure they maintain a positive mindset.

"They're freshman, they make mistakes, we all make mistakes, so it's a matter how we come off of those mistakes and learn from them. To just prepare for the next point and not dwell on the past," Courtney said. "We all make mistakes so it's a matter of how we turn those mistakes into good points."

Outside hitters Alli Frantti and Simone Lee are two freshmen that Rose said played well this preseason, but there is competition going on between all of the new players.

"There's battles going on at all the positions, but a lot of it is impacted by who is cleared for practice that day," Rose said. "All of the net players have showed some talent and potential. I saw it in most of them when I recruited them."

Rose said the speed of the game is going to be the biggest transition for the younger players. And what bigger change of speed than going from high school and club volleyball to the Big Ten Conference. Rose said the much of the success of the team will be based on how the coaching staff and older players prepare the younger players to compete in the Big Ten environment, both at home and away.

"I know how good the conference is and the quality of the players and coaches. [I know] how tough the venues are. The older players who have been in the conference for two and three years, they have a much better handle on it than the young people," Rose said.

Gonzalez shared a similar outlook on the Big Ten and knows that the team must practice hard this season.

"We know conference is tough. Every match we have to be prepared for. No ones going to be an easy game or giveaway games and were trying to instill that in the other players," Gonzalez said. "You start off the season completely new, we won it last year but that means nothing this year. We are going to work to be successful again but we know that's going to be a lot of work."

This weekend, the Nittany Lions will kick off their season with three home matches. On Friday, they will face TCU at 7:30 p.m. Last season, the Horned Frogs were 16-15.  

On Saturday, Penn State will play Iona and William & Mary in a doubleheader at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Iona went 16-14 in the 2013 season and William & Mary was 11-21.

Senior middle hitter Nia Grant is ready for the weekend, but knows there is always room for improvement.

"You always want to get better, so I'm going to still use this week to get ready for the games and continue to get better as the season progresses," Grant said.

Rose said earlier this week that Grant is one of only three players (Micha Hancock, Grant and Courtney) who will definitely be on this weekend's starting lineup. The rest of the starting lineup has been impacted by injury and inconsistency, so the time is now for the freshmen to step up.

"We might start up to three freshmen. It's hard to start [the expected starters] when they're not cleared to play right now," Rose said. "So we'll play this weekend, and then we'll play the next weekend and we'll play hopefully the next 17 weekends."

Winning the 2013 National Championship means that all eyes will be on Penn State this season. And the Nittany Lions know the road in 2014 won't be easy.

"I think everyone on the team, coaching staff, players all agree with me when I say that its an expectation to go back to the final four, but we all know that it's not just given to us because we won last year," Courtney said. "It's what we do in the gym that's going to do the talking."

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball Season Preview Interviews

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The defending NCAA champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team opens the 2014 season with three matches inside Rec Hall over the weekend. The Lions kick things off on Friday against TCU at 7:30 p.m.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with head coach Russ Rose and a trio of players to preview the 2014 season.

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

VIDEO: Meet the Newcomers - Part II

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Meet the Newcomers - Part I

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com sits down with the final four Nittany Lion women's volleyball newcomers in the second of a two-part series. No. 1 Penn State opens its 2014 season on Aug. 29 against TCU inside Rec Hall.

VIDEO: Meet the Newcomers - Part I

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Meet the Newcomers - Part II

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com sits down with four of the Nittany Lion women's volleyball newcomers in the first of a two-part series. No. 1 Penn State opens its 2014 season on Aug. 29 against TCU inside Rec Hall.

Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."

"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."

Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.


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

Looking Back at the Top Events from 2013-'14

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the calendar begins to shift towards the start of the 2014-'15 athletic season, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take a look back at a tremendous campaign for Penn State Athletics.

Fueled by national championships from women's volleyball, wrestling and fencing, Penn State accumulated a record point total in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup in 2013-'14.

Penn State's three NCAA Championships are its most since winning three in 1999-2000. Penn State student-athletes, who have an 88 percent graduation rate, won a school record-tying and conference-best eight Big Ten titles in 2013-'14 and 16 over the past two years, easily topping second place Michigan (9) in combined titles the last two years.

Take a look back at some of the top events from a stellar Penn State sports season.

Men's Hockey: Oct. 11, 2013 - Penn State 4, Army 1 (First Game in Pegula)

HKY_Pegula_First Game.jpgIt was a night fans in Hockey Valley had been dreaming of for years. The Nittany Lion men's hockey team christened the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena with a dominant performance before a boisterous sold out crowd on opening night for the 2013-'14 season.

At 8:14 p.m., the puck dropped in the first game inside Penn State's sparkling new home for hockey.

Nate Jenson owns the honor of tallying the first goal for the Nittany Lions in Pegula. He took a feed from Taylor Holstrom early in the first period and beat Army goalie Rob Tadazak to the high corner, glove side. Just as Jensen scored, the crowd of 6,370 exploded and Zombie Nation blared through the speakers.

An early third-period two-on-one shorthanded goal from Curtis Loik and a breakaway goal from David Goodwin would spark the same reaction. Leading 3-1, Eric Scheid notched a last-second empty net goal to seal the first win in their inaugural game in Pegula.

Hockey Valley could not have any been prouder of its team following the 4-1 victory, and the student section made that very clear. The Roar Zone was full song from the moment it walked into the building 90 minutes before faceoff.

The Nittany Lions went on to win four games inside Pegula Ice Arena during their first Big Ten season. The list of victories included a thrilling 4-0 win over Michigan and a 4-2 triumph over Ohio State during conference play.

Football: Oct. 12, 2013 - Penn State 43, Michigan 40 (Beaver Stadium)

FB_Robinson Michigan.jpegDown by 34-27 at its own 20-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, Penn State found itself in a difficult situation in sold out Beaver Stadium against rival Michigan.

The stakes were simple. Drive down the field and score a touchdown or the game was over.

True freshman and 18-year old signal-caller Christian Hackenberg jogged onto the field to lead the offense during the 2-minute drill with the game on the line.

On first down at the 20, Hackenberg connected with Robinson, who dragged his toe just inside the sideline paint in front of the Penn State bench for a 14-yard gain.

One play later, it was Brandon Felder's turn.

Hackenberg's toss to Felder in front of the Michigan bench covered 29 yards and set up another first down at the Michigan 37-yard line.

Two plays later, Robinson returned to the spotlight with the play of the game.

Hackenberg fielded Ty Howle's snap and looked to Robinson, who was lined up wide on the left side of the formation. Robinson stuttered in the first 10 yards of his route, attempting to freeze the Michigan defensive back. As he regained full speed, Hackenberg's pass was in the air.

Robinson skied over the Michigan defender and plucked the ball at the highest point in his jump before falling to a rest at the 1-yard line.

Hackenberg finished the drive off with a plunge into the end zone, capping off a five-play, 80-yard game-tying touchdown drive that covered just 23 seconds on the clock.

The teams exchanged blows in the overtime frames before Bill Belton became the hero. Belton trotted into the north end zone of Beaver Stadium for a game-winning touchdown in the fourth OT, capping off an epic comeback and a victory that will live in Penn State history for decades.

Women's Volleyball: Dec. 21, 2013 - Penn State 3, Wisconsin 1 (Championship Match)

WVB_Title.jpegPenn State's road to the national semifinals in Seattle was not an easy one in 2013. After knocking off LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec Hall to open the NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions traveled to Kentucky for the regional round of the 64-team tournament.

Penn State rallied from 1-0 down to defeat Michigan State in the regional semifinals, which set up a showdown against seventh-seeded Stanford for a trip to the national semifinals.

The Lions and Cardinal battled to a fifth set in what evolved into an epic clash among two of volleyball's heavyweights. Penn State trailed Stanford 9-6 in the fifth before head coach Russ Rose used a timeout. Out of the break, the Lions were not going to be denied.

Penn State scored the next six points in the decisive set on the way to punching a ticket to the national semifinals in Seattle.

Playing in the NCAA semis for the 11th time in program history, Penn State rolled over Washington (3-0), which was playing just four miles from its campus, with a truly dominant performance.

The national title match, the Lions' ninth all-time appearance, was next. Facing off against Wisconsin in the first all Big Ten national final, Penn State jumped out to a hard-fought 2-0 lead before the Badgers rallied to make it 2-1.

Wisconsin took a 23-20 lead in the fourth and was just two points from forcing a fifth set, but the Lions were not done. A service error from the Badgers made it 23-21. With ice water in her veins, ESPY nominee Micha Hancock stepped to the service line. The junior delivered four potent jump serves, two of which dropped for aces, before senior Deja McClendon's kill clinched the program's sixth national title and fifth in the last seven years.

In six NCAA Tournament matches this season, the Nittany Lions dropped just four total sets.

Men's Basketball: Jan. 29, 2014 - Penn State 71, Ohio State 70 (Value City Arena)

MBB_Newbill_Craft copy.jpgThe Nittany Lion basketball team trailed Ohio State, 59-48, with 7:58 to play in Columbus after Buckeyes capped off a 10-2 scoring run.

Penn State never panicked, largely thanks to a dominant performance from D.J. Newbill down the stretch.

A pair of buckets from Jordan Dickerson and two free throws from Newbill set the score at 62-59, Buckeyes, with 2:20 to play.

Newbill then fielded a long pass moving right to left across the floor from Frazier before burying a corner three, which tied the game at 62-62 with 1:08 to go. Ohio State scored the next three points to make it 65-62.

Newbill answered in the form of a second clutch 3-pointer with 11.0 seconds to play.

After Ohio State's final possession in regulation came up empty, the game headed into overtime.

The Buckeyes took a 70-67 lead on a pair of Lenzelle Smith Jr. free throws in the extra frame, but Newbill was not done.

The Philly product snaked through the Ohio State defense for a lay-in with 45 seconds to play, pulling the Lions to within one (70-69). The Buckeyes turned the ball over on the next possession, setting up an inbounds play with 13.2 seconds.

Tim Frazier inbounded to Jordan Dickerson, who handed the ball off to D.J. Newbill in front of the scorer's table. Down one with 11 seconds to play in overtime as he crossed halfcourt, Newbill raced to the right side of the floor.

The Philly native wanted the ball in his dominant hand. With one of the Big Ten's top defenders an arm's length away, Newbill began his move with 5.4 seconds on the clock.

After one power dribble to his right, he sent the ball to his left hand under Aaron Craft's extended right arm. Newbill took one more power dribble with his left hand before elevating at the right elbow with 3.5 seconds on the clock.

The ball never touched the rim as it sailed through the cylinder to give the Lions a 71-70 victory. Penn State's win at Ohio State was its first since 2001.

Women's Basketball: March 1, 2014 - Penn State 77, Michigan 62 (Bryce Jordan Center)

WBB_Big Ten.jpegTo put it simply, Senior Day couldn't have gone any better for Penn State's four seniors in 2014.

Maggie Lucas, Talia East, Dara Taylor and Ariel Edwards all were double figure scorers on a day where they were honored with friends and family in attendance as the team claimed its third consecutive Big Ten title with a 77-62 over Michigan.

Edwards led the Lady Lions with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field while Lucas, East and Taylor added 17, 16 and 11 points respectively.

Penn State had control of the game from start to finish as they shot 54 percent from the field, missed just one free throw on 19 attempts and collected seven blocks and 11 steals.

The group of seniors combined for 65 of the team's 77 points; epitomizing their leadership during their time at Penn State in their last regular season home game.

That was expected from a group of four leaders who ensured a team of seven freshmen didn't miss a beat coming off of two-straight conference titles heading into the season.

Edwards, Lucas and East left Penn State as one of the winningest classes ever. They finished with 101 wins, good for second in program history. Taylor was at Penn State for 75 of the 101 wins after transferring from Maryland.

With all of the championships, accolades and wins, it was a perfect way for Lucas, East and Taylor to complete their Penn State careers.

Penn State's third-straight Big Ten title put the Lady Lions in elite company with Iowa and Ohio State as the only programs in the conference to win three or more consecutive conference crowns. The title also fueled the Lady Lions' second run to the Sweet 16 in past three years.

Wrestling: March 22, 2013 - Nittany Lions Clinch Fourth-Straight NCAA Title

WR_Title.jpegPenn State's reign over the college wrestling world continued in March when the Nittany Lions captured their unprecedented fourth-straight NCAA team title in Oklahoma City.

Fueled by NCAA individual crowns from seniors Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and David Taylor at 165 pounds, the Lions celebrated on the sport's grandest stage inside Chesapeake Energy Arena as the 2014 national champions.

By no means was the fourth title an easy one for the Nittany Lions, who edged Minnesota by 5.5 points in the final team standings. Following a victory from Ruth at 184 pounds, the Lions pulled ahead of the Gophers by 1.5 points after two championship bouts.

Minnesota suffered setbacks in its two national title bouts, with the second coming in the ninth match of the evening. As the 157-pound bout ticked to zero on the clock, the white-clad Penn State fans rose to their feet to celebrate the program's fifth national championship.

But the work was not quite done for the Nittany Lions, as Taylor was on deck in the final championship match of night against Oklahoma State's Chris Perry.

You could not have scripted a better way for Taylor's career to end in a Penn State singlet than the way it did on Saturday night. The epitome of a team player, Taylor's imprint on the program goes far beyond his stellar accolades. He didn't miss a match at the national tournament because he wanted to support his fellow teammates. On Saturday morning, he did not need to be at the arena, but he was the first to greet fellow senior James English as he came off the mat after his critical win in the seventh-place match at 149 pounds.

Thanks to another dominant performance, Taylor finished off his collegiate career with a victory in the final match of the national tournament, an individual national title and a team title. 

Taylor and Ruth played a paramount role in Penn State's fourth-straight title, but the Nittany Lions will remain atop the NCAA wrestling mountain because of a hard-fought team effort in the 2014 NCAA Championships.

Fencing: March 23, 2014 - Nittany Lions Clinch 13th NCAA Title

FEN_Title.jpegNo program in Penn State's illustrious sports history has won more national titles than the fencing team. Under the direction of interim head coach Wes Glon, Penn State mounted a furious charge on the final day of the NCAA Championships in Columbus to clinch its 13th national championship.

As a team, Penn State finished the competition with 180 bout victories, toppling Princeton in second-place (159 victories), and St. John's in third (156 victories).

Individually, sophomore Kaito Streets claimed the 2014 men's saber NCAA title. Streets became the 13th individual champion for the Nittany Lions in program history.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions were neck and neck with Princeton throughout much of the competition. The Lions began pulling away from the Tigers on day three of the competition. Penn State clinched the program's third title in the past six seasons on day four.

Streets held the number one spot in the men's saber event heading into the final competition. He knocked off Ferenc Valkai from St. John's to become an individual champion.

Glon has been with the Nittany Lions for 29 seasons, and he has seen all 13 national titles. But the 2014 crown marked his first as the leader of the program.

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

2014 Coaches Caravan - Pegula Ice Arena Kick-Off Event

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

VIDEO: Kick-Off Event Press Conference | Photo Gallery: State College

2014 Coaches Caravan Registration

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in its three-year history, the Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off on Thursday evening with an event on the University Park campus.

Before a crowd of more than 425 enthusiastic Penn State fans and alums, head coaches James Franklin, Bob Warming and Russ Rose headlined the opening night of the 17-stop Coaches Caravan that will take place throughout the month of May.

9976484.jpeg"It means a lot to our players to play in a town where everyone is extremely supportive of them," Franklin said of the hometown crowd.

The evening opened with an hour-long reception where Franklin, Rose, Warming and Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers, along with football assistant coaches Bob Shoop, Brent Pry, Josh Gattis and Charles Huff, mingled with the attendees.

The program portion of the event took place on the ice inside Pegula Ice Arena, the sparkling home of Penn State Hockey.  Warming, who led the Nittany Lion men's soccer team to its second-straight Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament berth in the fall, took the microphone first.  While describing the location of his office and the elite company he is around inside Rec Hall, Warming kept things light.

"The first door you come to is Russ Rose (in my hallway)...the next door on my hallway is Cael Sanderson...the next doorway down is Erica Walsh...And then there is me," joked Warming.

Warming discussed the principles his program lives by - Recruit. Develop. Retain. Graduate.

"Its never about the coach...It's about the student-athlete," Warming said.  "It's always about helping them achieve their dreams.  It's always about helping them achieve their goals and become educated men to help our society."

When Warming sat down, Rose was introduced to a standing ovation from the State College crowd.  Fresh off leading the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team to its fifth national championship in seven years, Rose received a rousing cheer from the hometown crowd.

"We are coming off a great season.  It's incredible to be in a position to win a national championship," Rose said.

Always quick-witted, it took Rose no more than 10 seconds to have the Pegula Ice Arena crowd roaring with laughter.  A 35-year veteran as a Penn State head coach, Rose has an undying passion for the University.  Each time he speaks, Rose's feelings for Penn State are pure.  He believes in the success of the University, its student-athletes and the head coaches leading the 31 teams on campus.

"I've been here for 35 years...we've got some of the finest coaches in the country," Rose said.  "Our coaching staff across the board right now is unbelievable."

Rose's remarks transitioned into the newest member of the Penn State coaching family.  Franklin has been on the job for just shy of four months.  After signing a strong recruiting class in February, the newest leader of Penn State Football led the Nittany Lions through a productive spring practice period.  In his time at Penn State, one thing has stood out to Franklin since day one.

"The thing that makes Penn State special...it's about the people," Franklin said.  "The support we get is unreal."

Franklin is thrilled to get out on the road during May to meet Penn State fans from all corners of the state and region.  Since he took the job, Franklin has talked about how proud he is to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions.  His words were genuine in every sense on Thursday night in Pegula.

"For a lot of people, this is a job," Franklin said.  "This is personal for me.  This means the world to me.  For a guy growing up in the state of Pennsylvania to come back and be the head football coach at Penn State is unbelievably special."

Working to build an elite program on and off the field, the top items on Franklin's list for a successful Penn State football program include graduating every player, winning games and impacting the region and state in a positive way.  With a tireless approach to every facet of the day-to-day operation, Franklin and the football staff will work to make the fan base proud each and every day he is on the job, which he hopes is a long time.

"I love that the expectation here is for the head coach to be here for 80 years," Franklin joked.

The Caravan will hit the road on Tuesday to begin the first travel week.  Sold out crowds in York (lunch) and Hershey (dinner reception) will greet Franklin, Warming, Coquese Washington and Erica Walsh on Tuesday.

photo (19).JPG

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

VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Press Conference - State College

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2014 Coaches Caravan kicked off inside Pegula Ice Arena on Thursday.  Take a look at the event's press conference featuring head football coach James Franklin, head men's soccer coach Bob Warming and head women's volleyball coach Russ Rose.

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