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VIDEO: Meet the Women's Volleyball Freshmen - Kelly Robertson

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will intensify its preparations for the 2013 season when practice begins in early August.

Four newcomers joined the roster since the Lions last played a match. kicks off a series of interviews with the freshmen getting set to kick off their first season in Penn State blue and white.

Today, we focus on 6-0 middle blocker Kelly Robertson.  The Allentown, Pa., product was a four-year letterwinner and team captain at Parkland High School in Allentown.  Robertson helped guide Parkland to three conference championships, three district titles and one state championship.  She was named First Team Lehigh Valley Conference twice, Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and was selected an Under Armour First Team All-American.  Additionally, Robertson's second cousin, Taylor Krause, who also went to Parkland H.S., is a member of the 2013 Penn State freshman class.  Meet Kelly Robertson.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 15, 2013: That's a Wrap!


As I write this blog, I am completely exhausted by jet lag. This 10-day trek through central Europe was one that I will never forget. Over the last week and half, a bus full of players, coaches, and boosters had the opportunity to dive into the cultures of 5 different cities in 4 different countries. To say that our bodies and sleeping patterns were out of whack would be an understatement.

Early Wednesday morning after a relaxing last evening in the lobby, we all boarded the bus to the Milan airport. This time, unfortunately, all of the bags did not fit under the bus due to the increased size of the suitcases filled with gifts and shopping bags acquired throughout the trip. All of the girls used a weighing device to ensure all bags were under that dreaded 50 pound mark. Once the aisles of the bus were filled with suitcases, we were on our way to the airport.

After a smooth check-in process and a quick flight from Milan to Paris, we were left with a 4-hour layover in Charles de Gaulle airport. Our terminal was filled with high-end shops such as Prada, Fendi, Gucci and many more! The highlight of our time in Paris was when Wayne took a seat at the piano and started playing the Penn State fight song and alma mater! We all sang along right before we boarded the airplane.
Just about 8 hours later we landed in Philadelphia and made it through customs and immigration without any delays or problems. Before the rest of the group climbed onto the bus back to State College, I said my goodbyes to all because I was driving back to New Jersey with my family who met me at the airport.

I will never forget the memories I made on this trip with so many wonderful people. I want to thank all of you in the booster club for your countless hours of hard work over the past few years, which allowed us to enjoy such an incredible experience! I look forward to seeing you all in Rec Hall this fall!

Marika Racibarskas

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 14, 2013: Ciao, Venice!


Hello, people. Today we are leaving Venice and making our way to our last stop in Europe. We woke up early, ate some delicious NUTELLA croissants, and bussed to Milan, Italy. On our way to Milan we saw a part of the Alps mountain range outside our bus window. It was cooooool.

Immediately entering into Milan, we went and ate lunch at the training center. We had it family style, meaning we started the meal with a pasta dish and then they would bring out a salad and the main course. As for the pasta, they added green onions and some bacon. Typically, I do not like onions at all, but our tour guide, TK, insisted I try them, and I ended up really enjoying them in the pasta. The main dish ended up being pork. It was good, but I could have definitely handled going for seconds.

After eating a tasty lunch, we walked over to our hotel and got ready to play the Italian National Team. We suited up and walked to the training center where we would serve and pass. After our serve pass, we would begin the European structured warm up and then compete. In the end of our scrimmage, we ended up splitting the games. They won 2 games and we won the other 2 games. Though, it was exciting to split a game with the Italian national team, it would have been nice to play out a fifth set. However, we would play them again the next day, anyway.

After the scrimmage, we went to our hotel and got ready to explore down town. We were all dressed up in the lobby and then made our way to the tram. We then got onto the tram and made our way to down town. Upon arrival, we immediately gathered around the Duomo. It was absolutely beautiful and we all took some pictures with it. After taking pictures, we dispersed and did whatever we wanted. I went and got dinner with Micha, Paulina, Deja, Chris, and Scott (also known as Jeremy). We went to a nice restaurant where I ordered a sea food antipasta. It was my favorite meal of the trip. It consisted of muscles, squid, shrimp, a nice sauce and bread. Before I dived into my plate, I had Micha take a picture of me eating an octopus tentacle, because it was cool.

After a fine meal with friends, the day was over and we took the #14 tram home and called it a day. #JEAH

Lacey Fuller

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 12, 2013: Shopping in Milan!

For Milan as a city I experienced great shopping, if you know how to hunt for reasonable prices. I ran into two great shops that weren't high in cost but great quality and did a little splurging! I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to come here and experience even just the city of a beautiful country.

Now for the volleyball...

After getting a taste of how the Italian National team plays and who we need to focus on, we should have a better handle on what to neutralize. We have to be more focused and crisp with our serve and pass game, but other than that the team is showing great effort. We have had such a eye opening experience playing and talking to pros throughout the trip. We are so blessed to have support like this boosters, parents and a university that backs us! Thank you all so much! CIAO!
Micha Hancock

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 11, 2013: Hello from Slovenia!

We had another great day in Maribor. The day started off with a big spread of meats and cheeses and other classic breakfast foods which filled us up for the morning activities. We went straight from breakfast to practice where we had our best practice of the trip thus far. During practice, we had three professional players play with us, which was cool for everyone to get to play beside them but to also ask them questions about the professional world of volleyball in Europe. Following up from practice we took a bus into town as a group with the team and boosters to have lunch and explore Maribor. We went to a great pizzeria which was very yummy. They also had dishes of pasta and lasagna and by the look of some of my teammates plates, it looked delicious. For those of us who got pizza we each got our own personal pizza that was a challenge to finish it all but we all rose to the challenge! After lunch we walked around and of course we found ourselves some gelato.

Later in the day we had our second match against the Croatian National team. We competed very hard and came out with the 3-1 win. They were an extremely good team filled with a ton of experience and different ages. Ariel had a great game for the second day in a row and was one of the key factors to our win. Following the match we went to dinner at one of the best vineyards in Europe. The Croatian team came to dinner with us which was great to get to know them and to hear their insight on professional volleyball as well. We had a fantastic meal at the vineyard which completed our wonderful stay in Maribor. Thank you to all who made this trip possible. It's truly been amazing. Off to Venice!

Maddie Martin

Hey everyone! I hope you have all been following along our blogs about this amazing experience in Europe thus far! For me, being out the country is a completely different and new experience. Although my time in Europe is winding down, I can't even explain the beauty of Europe. If you have been following along, you may have noticed that we all have different topics to talk about. Well I was lucky enough to get one of the most beautiful and breathtaking tourist attractions in all of the world. Venice, Italy was an amazing city to see and walk around in. As many of you might already know there are gondolas, which are the boats that are famous to travel around the city. As I walked around the city, it was very hard to find your way around. We quickly found out that once you passed a store, there was a slim to none chance you were going to find it again. The girls, boosters, coaches, and managers walked around the city to meet in the main square to see the main attraction, the Basilica de San Marco. It was a beautiful church with architecture like I have never seen before. Fortunately for all of us, the weather as very cooperative until about the last twenty or so minutes when it started to rain. It was just an incredible view from evey way you looked. I think I can speak for everyone when I say this has truly been an experience of a lifetime that we will never forget. Everything about it has been breathtaking. I hope to see everyone soon and tell you all about this amazing trip that wouldn't be made possible without all of your generosity and support for the progress! We have made Penn State proud over here in Europe. We wear those letters with pride and always represent who we are.

We Are....
Megan Courtney

Women's Volleyball European Trip

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2013 European Tour Photo Gallery
Check out the team's video of site-seeing in Vienna, Austria

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 10, 2013: Hello from Slovenia!

Today, we played the Croatian National Team in Maribor, Slovenia and tied 2-2. The first game started off a little rocky, but maybe it was just nerves that got us at first. The second set, we gained a bit of confidence and proceeded to win into the fourth set. Unfortunately, we didn't win the fourth set, which definitely lit a fire under us to play them tomorrow. I feel we have the confidence to play better tomorrow in our next match against them because we know that we're capable.

After the match, we took quick showers and headed to dinner where we had a buffet of meats, salad, fries, and other native Slovenian foods. It was delicious! In order to get to dinner, we had to ride a gondola up and down this huge mountain-although it was a great view, I was pretty horrified, but definitely enjoyed the new experience after looking back at it all. Following dinner, we went on a little adventure to explore what was on top of the mountain. We came in contact with a spa and a creepy old-school church that looked like it hadn't been touched in years.

After all of the food, games, and exploring, we all headed back down the mountain via gondola (I wasn't as scared this time because it was dark) and went to the Draś Hotel to get gelato-that was pure happiness. Now, it's time to head to bed and get ready for all the activities to come tomorrow.

Nia Grant

Our first morning in Slovenia was a really exciting one! We started off with a team breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, then we had a practice--working on some serving and passing. After practice we all headed back to our apartments and got changed and headed up the mountain for a team challenge on a rope course. We all arrived at the bottom of the ski lift and got on the lift to go up the mountain to the course. The view from the lift and on top of the mountain overlooking Maribor was incredible! You could see all the city and the rest of the Pohorje mountain range from the top. Then the first thing we did was get in our harnesses and ready to go on the ropes! One thing we did was climb to the top of this telephone(?) pole one at a time--it was really high!!

Then we had to stand on top of the pole and turn around and jump and our teammates would catch us (by pulling ropes on our harnesses). It was really scary and cool at the same time. Another thing we did was a giant swing thing (kind of) off the side of the mountain! It was scary, because we swung out over the trees. Which, interesting fact, Slovenia is home to over 400 brown bears...luckily we didn't see any in the forest. We had a nice lunch on the mountain then we got to take the alpine slide down. The alpine slide was like a one-man roller coaster down the side of the mountain. It was so much fun, you could get up to 25MPH!. After that we had a little time to ourselves to catch up on some sleep before the match. This trip has been amazing so far. We have got to see and do so many terrific things here. I want to thank all of you boosters for making this happen. This is a trip I will always remember fondly.

Lara Caraway

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 9, 2013: Hello to All!

I hope everyone is well back in the states. We're continuing on our great Europe adventure today as we arrived in Maribor. It is beautiful here, but slightly in the middle of nowhere. There is a training center right next to what appears to be a ski resort. There are beautiful mountains all around us and the sunset was breathtaking. When we arrived today we got off the bus, and we went straight into practice. The facilities are new and in great condition. We're happy to be in a beautiful place that has free wifi so we can talk to everyone back in the states. Hi mom and dad!

Earlier today we had a chance to sightsee around Vienna. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. The city is set up in a loop-shape which makes it easy to navigate. Yesterday some of us walked around and saw the cathedrals, parliament, and castles. There were gorgeous parks with statues, fountains, flowers, and lush greens. This morning a group of us went to Schonbrunn Palace. This is where the emperor and his family would go to vacation. We felt very accomplished as we navigated the subway system and found our way there. The palace was gigantic with acres of land which included a zoo. Some of us took a grand tour of the palace which allowed us to tour the entire first floor. The chandeliers alone were works of art. Included in the tour was a hand-held audio-guide so we could get the inside scoop on what happened in each room. My personal favorite was the ballroom where Mozart performed when he was six years old for a large group of people. It was a true brush with fame. Other people took carriage rides around the grounds which had perfectly-manicured trees and bushes. It was truly so magnificent.

Tomorrow we have a full day planned! We are going to do a ropes course, and then an alpine slide down the steep mountain. I can say that's something I've never done before. Then in the afternoon we will play a match versus the Croatian National Team.

I want to make sure all the boosters know how grateful we are for being able to take this trip. It's definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to travel with so many of your good friends. We are so lucky to have all of your support. I will cherish this trip forever. I look forward to seeing everyone and sharing more stories once we get back to the states. Ciao!
Katie Slay

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 8, 2013: On To Vienna!

After a great time in Prague, it was finally time to start making our way to Vienna. A 9 AM we packed up the bus and began our four hour bus ride. As for the people who enjoy scenery, this is was beautiful ride down the coast of the Czech border and a fantastic photo opportunity. We saw everything from beautiful fields to architecture that is nothing but a fantasy in the states. And as for everyone else...the ride was the perfect nap time. About three hours into the trip we made a 20 minute pit stop. Turned out we stopped at a gift shop with cool European candy and souvenirs. I bought a Milka Chocolate Bar, a popular brand in Europe. After two more hours we finally made it to our destination, beautiful Vienna, Austria.

After checking into our rooms at the Marriott we had the opportunity to tour the city just about all day. It was great to see the different styles of architecture and the awesomeness of a new European city. Most of us walked out to the Parliament building and the historical castles that line the outskirts of the main ring. We took pictures then continued our journey to a park in the center of town.

After that a few of the girls and I stopped at a cute little Austrian restaurant for lunch. It consisted of a typical meal with potatoes and some variation of meat. Although the language barrier was tough, it was nice to completely immerse ourselves in the culture. All in all, I consider Vienna a success. A new city always brings great opportunities to experience a new way if life.

Until next time,
Ariel Scott

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 7, 2013: Hello from Prague!

Hallo from Prague!!

What an incredible experience! First of all, I just want to thank all of our boosters for your outstanding generosity in making this trip possible. We know none of us would be experiencing such a one-of-a-lifetime trip without you, and from the entire team we can't thank you enough! While we wish we could spend the trip with all of you, we hope our blogs and pictures will at least give you a taste of our travels. We miss you all!

This morning we started with another nice breakfast at the hotel, complete with about 17 different types of bread and pastries, Nutella, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, and caprese salad (mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil)--which was a little bit of a mix-up for most of us. Our whole group then headed to the Charles Bridge, which is a very famous landmark for the Czech Republic, and connects the "Old Town" to the "New Town" of Prague. The view and the bridge itself were absolutely beautiful. Thankfully we were there early enough in the day that it wasn't too crowded, and we could meander about and check out all the statues as we pleased. Once we crossed the bridge, our tour guide took us to see the Old Town Square. There was a really neat Astronomical Clock there, which depicts the "Walk of the Apostles." We were told it is a very popular pickpocketing site, since at every hour all the tourists are focused on the moving figurines instead of their purses and wallets. Thankfully we made it without any incident!

We had a couple hours on our own after our tour of Old Town Square--some of us went shopping in the little shops, and some found other cool sites to see and take model-esque pictures in front of. :) I have to say I think my favorite part of the city was the cobblestone streets and roads everywhere. But we couldn't decide how in the world they could possibly plow for snow!

Later in the afternoon the team took the tram to the gym to warm up for our second match against the Praha Seniors. We traded games the whole match but ended up losing 15-13 in the 5th. It definitely wasn't the way we wanted to start the trip but it showed that we can't take the level of play here any less serious than the Big 10, and we all need to step it up for our next matches.

After the match we all headed to the same restaurant from the first night for a traditional Czech meal. It started with a beef and potato stew, which was delicious and quite the crowd-pleaser. The main course was a really common Czech dish--goulash with dumplings. After we were all stuffed to the max, the dessert was three mini pancake-type cakes with a blueberry sauce. Carp informed us that blueberry pancakes are her favorite so needless to say she was in Heaven, and we all left with purple tongues.

Overall, another awesome day on an amazing trip. Again, thank you to all the boosters for your incredible support in making this all possible!


Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 6, 2013

Known as the "City of a Thousand Spires" Prague has seen it all. Centuries of kings, classical composers, invading Nazis and Soviet tanks and now the Penn State women's volleyball team have all passed over Prague's cobblestones.

So on our stay, we saw the many Baroque churches, the royal palace, flagstone courtyards all in which lay within Prague's castle. In fact, this castle is the largest castle area in the world composing of 18 acres. All of the architecture and artwork is incredible and covered in detail. However nothing was quite like viewing Prague's romantic skyline, and view from on top of the hill (where the Castle sits) to the city below.

Of course, important to talk about is the food. It scarcely matters which place you select expect menus with staples of tender, seasoned pork, mildly sweet cabbage and soft dumplings to soak up the rich sauce. Desert favorites include crepes or dumplings filled with fruit.

As for the fun facts:

Did you know...

That Prague is known for being having some of the biggest Beer drinkers? - Czech's drink more beer per capita than other country in the world and each head will sink about 43 gallons a year- dang!

During the Middle Ages turning minerals into gold was a hugely popular fashion among the elite. - The mark of ones status was magician- oooo ahhhh!!

Writers and academics have claimed to have felt strange and disturbing tremors coming from under the ground. - Dark alleys and desolate squares have been known to produce many eerie sounds.... Can you say ghosts??

And the first ever sugar cubes were made in 1841- yumm!

On behalf of the team, we would like to thank you boosters for sending us on the trip of a lifetime. We promise to work harder on the court to represent Penn State well and make you all proud.

Kendall Pierce

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 5, 2013


Today was our first traveling day. The day started in an uproar as we scrambled around the locker room at 10 in the morning. Just about all of us had over-packed and were struggling to get our bags under 50 pounds. Despite the hectic start we were all extremely excited. By 11, we were settled on the bus accompanied by boosters headed to Philly. The 3-hour ride was very chill. We spent the time snacking, napping, jamming to music and talking about our hopes for Europe.

In Philly we headed to the gate boarding for Atlanta. As soon as we checked in we rushed to the food court. We ate giant ice cream cones but could only think about how much better the gelato in Europe was going to taste. We were loaded with no problem and within 2 hours the girls and I were in the Peach State. After waiting about an hour, we were boarding our flight to Amsterdam, making our trip officially international.

The plane was huge with three giant compartments and six stewardesses all dressed in bright blue. Each of their accents stuck out as they said hello to us as we boarded. All different types of languages were being spoken on the plane. Even the announcements came on in four different tongues. When we took off it was rainy and the skies were rough so the ride was bumpy. But even Lacey, who is not fond of flying, still made it through.

Eight hours and two airplane meals later the group was getting their passports stamped. I was amazed by the size of the airport, AMS being one of the biggest hubs in all of Europe. There were all kinds of shops, from Gucci to cigar shops. Because of a previous delay we didn't have much time to explore before starting the final leg of our trip.

As the crew got on our final plane to Prague we were all pooped. Flying above the countryside was breathtaking. The view of rolling hills and clusters of small towns was almost like flying over Happy Valley. The small jet got us to the Czech in two hours flat.

Even though the time spent getting to Prague was just the beginning of the trip it was also a time of bonding and memory making.

Deja McClendon

Coaches Caravan: Day III - Lancaster and Harrisburg

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Coaches Caravan Registration

Photo Gallery: Lancaster | Photo Gallery: Harrisburg

CAMP HILL, Pa. - The Coaches Caravan capped off the first leg of the 12-stop tour with visits to Lancaster and Harrisburg on Thursday.

A capacity crowd of 330 fans greeted head coaches Bill O'Brien, Cael Sanderson and Russ Rose for a luncheon at Penn Square in Lancaster.  The bus then loaded up for a 50-minute drive to Camp Hill for the week's final stop before nearly 550 enthusiastic attendees.  In total, more than 2,100 fans and alums took part in Caravan stops during week one.  Take a look through some highlights on day three at two visits to the heart of Nittany Nation.

Stop V - Lancaster (Marriott at Penn Square)
A sold out crowd of 330 enthusiastic Penn State fans and alums greeted all three coaches on the docket for Thursday's lunch stop with a warm, standing ovation reception.  Five-time NCAA champion women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose joined the Caravan for the final day of the initial leg.

Sanderson kicked off the panel of speakers with high praise of the other two leaders on stage with him.  The wrestling offices are just down the hall from the women's volleyball offices inside Rec Hall, and Sanderson told the crowd that when he sees Rose and how he runs his program, he uses it as motivation for leading the wrestling program.

"Coach Rose is a tremendous asset for Penn State," Sanderson said.

"What he (Coach O'Brien) has done for the University is unbelievable," Sanderson went on to say.

Nestled in the heart of wrestling country, Sanderson took the opportunity to tell the fans to take advantage of the opportunity to see talents like David Taylor and Ed Ruth wrestle during their senior seasons.  Sanderson said that elite athletes like those two do not come around too often.

Rose took the microphone second and echoed Sanderson's remarks about the cast of coaches on stage at the Caravan stops on Thursday.  He joked that his team's 109-match winning streak during the program's unprecedented string of four-straight NCAA titles pales is just a number alongside Sanderson's 159-0 mark as a collegiate wrestler.

The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will kick off a European tour on Saturday.  Rose said he is looking forward to how his team works during the offseason.  The Lions kick off the trip in the Czech Republic and cap things off in Italy.

One of the great things about the Caravan is seeing how the coaches interact with one another.  All three leaders were truly genuine in their remarks directed at one another.  Sanderson and Rose both praised O'Brien for his leadership of the program during the past 15 months.  O'Brien's feelings are mutual for the other two coaches.  He and Sanderson shared stories and exchanged coaching philosophies throughout the bus travel on Thursday.

"It's very humbling to share the stage with Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson," O'Brien said as he opened his speech.

The trio of coaches in Lancaster was among the seven Penn State leaders who earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors during the 2012-13 season.

"[Penn State] is a great place to be.  Our coaching staffs are really strong in a lot of areas," Rose said.

VIDEO: Lancaster Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien, Rose and Sanderson


Stop VI: Harrisburg (Radisson Camp Hill)

Following a luncheon before a capacity crowd, the Caravan rolled into the Harrisburg area for an evening program in Camp Hill.  Nearly 550 guests congregated inside the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson to hear O'Brien, Sanderson and Rose address the crowd on Thursday night.

caravan_harrisburg1.jpg The first week of the Caravan ended with a night fun night of entertainment for the fans in Harrisburg.  The largest crowd of the week was a lively, engaged group from start to finish during the speeches and Q&A, largely thanks to another sterling performance from leadoff man Cael Sanderson to kick-start the program.

After drawing a huge crowd and shaking countless hands during the pre-event reception, Sanderson had the audience in stiches with one-liner after one-liner during his speech.  Among many quick-witted moments, he got the crowd into a standing ovation contest, as he called it, to see how many times he could get the crowd to give O'Brien a standing ovation during his own speech.

All three coaches fed off of one another at both stops on Thursday, but Sanderson and O'Brien were a comical matchup on stage throughout the evening in Harrisburg.  O'Brien answered Sanderson's stand-up act later during his speech by ribbing the wrestling legend for losing a grand total of three matches from high school through college (He was a combined 286-3 in high school and college.)

"Come on, Cael. You could have done better than that (laughter)," O'Brien said.

With the crowd roaring, Rose took the microphone and said," Cael's on fire!"  The Nittany Lion women's volleyball head coach went on to tell the crowd that the individuals in the room understood what the true meaning is behind being a Penn Stater.  The 34-year veteran also knows a thing or two about what Penn State is all about with its success on the field of play and in the classroom.

"I've been there a long time, and I love being there," Rose said.  "I'm not going anywhere."

"When you talk about Penn State around the country, you just want people to see what people are like in a room like this," O'Brien said.

The Penn State community is special to all three coaches.  Without a doubt, they all had fun joking with one another on stage Thursday night, but there is no question how each coach feels about the place they call home and the people who support the Blue and White.

"If you have that support before the success that's how you get the success, and that's what we have at Penn State," Sanderson said.

"A roomful of energetic, passionate Penn Staters, this is what it's all about," O'Brien said.    

VIDEO: Harrisburg Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien, Rose and Sanderson

caravan_harrisburg2.jpgcaravan_harrisburg3.jpgcaravan_harrisburg4.jpg Miles Covered on Day One - 203 miles
Miles Covered on Day Two - 147 miles
Miles Covered on Day Three -
254 miles
Caravan Total -
604 miles

The Caravan resumes on Tuesday with stops in Williamsport and Allentown.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Active Off the Court at THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team played an active role at THON 2013.  Seniors Kristin Carpenter and Marika Racibarskas were among the 710 dancers who were on their feet for 46 consecutive hours to help fight pediatric cancer.

Additionally, members of the team hosted a Make-A-Wish event with Four Diamonds families, the team visited THON children at athlete hour and danced in the annual THON Pep Rally.  THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball THON 2013 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team show off their dance moves at the THON 2013 Pep Rally.

THON 2013 raised a record $12.34 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to the more than 700 dancers who stood for 46-straight hours over the weekend and to all those involved with the fundraising efforts.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Penn State Athletics THON 2013 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 41st IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

More than 700 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.  THON went to new heights on Sunday when a record of more than $12.37 million was raised for 2013.  To date, more than $100 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes spent 46 hours on their feet in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were Kristin Carpenter from the women's volleyball team and Annie Abdo from the field hockey squad.  Katlyn Elliott from women's golf and Marika Racibarskas from women's volleyball represented Penn State Hockey this weekend.

Additionally, Perry Hammershlag and Nicole Symeonides from the Lionetts squad and Paige McManus and Nicole Camporeale from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to wish student writers Matt Allibone and Kelsey Detweiler, along with Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Angelis Lau the best of luck as they dance over the weekend, and the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

From start to finish, take a look through the updates from the involvement Penn State Athletics had in THON over the weekend on 

Friday Coverage:

4:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pre-Dancing Interviews with Student-Athletes
Just over one hour from beginning the quest of spending 46-straight hours on their feet, we caught up with Marika Racibarskas from women's volleyball and Katlyn Elliott from women's golf for their final thoughts before the start of THON 2013. 

5 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Chambers Addresses Crowd, Donates $14,200
Head coach Patrick Chambers pledged to donate $10 to THON 2013 for every student in attendance at Penn State's clash against Iowa on Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.  On Friday evening, just before heading to the airport with the Nittany Lions for their trip to Michigan, Chambers addressed the crowd at THON and presented a check for $14,200.  Take a look.

Saturday Coverage:

8 a.m. - VIDEO: Hour 14 Interviews from Penn State Athletics Dancers caught up with women's volleyball student-athletes and 2013 dancers Marika Racibarskas and Kristin Carpenter just before 8 a.m. on Saturday morning for an update on how things were going 14 hours into the 46-hour dance marathon.  Additionally, we talked with student writer and broadcaster Kelsey Detweiler, who is also dancing, for an update.  In addition to an interview, we asked all three what time they felt like it was.  Dancers are normally asked to avoid looking at the clock, and they rarely know what time it is.  Take a look at an hour 14 update from three Penn State Athletics representatives dancing in THON for the fight against pediatric cancer.

2 p.m. - VIDEO: Football Hosts THON Make-A-Wish Event
Seventy members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed 28 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event 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, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a photo in the locker room.

Head coach Bill O'Brien spoke to the group after it received the facility tour and signed autographs with the THON kids.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish

4:10 p.m. - PHOTO - Teams Participate in Athlete Hour
Student-athletes from across Penn State Athletics spent time with THON families and children inside the practice gym of the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon for Athlete Hour.

10:10 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
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, 11 different teams competed in the 2013 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition, largely thanks to its use of a prop pool to create a swimming scene mid-dance.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.  Take a look.

Photo Gallery - THON 2013 Pep Rally

Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Addresses THON 2013

Head coach Bill O'Brien took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to push through the "fourth quarter" of the 46-hour marathon.  O'Brien spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.

4:12 p.m. - VIDEO: THON 2013 Reveal - $12,374,034.46
THON 2013 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $12,374,034.46 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Watch a truly inspiring moment in front of a capacity crowd in the Bryce Jordan Center during the revealing of this year's total.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2013.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Vote for the Top Penn State Sports Event of 2012

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 calendar year was one marked by excellence and achievement from numerous Penn State teams.

8416786.jpegAs we close in on the final days of 2012, wanted to take time and reflect on a tremendous year for Penn State Athletics.  The hiring of head coach Bill O'Brien on Jan. 6, in many ways, set a tone for the athletic department throughout the calendar year.  O'Brien's introductory press conference highlighted a clear vision for how the football program would try to do its part in helping the athletic department move forward as One Team.

The results speak for themselves, and all 31 Penn State teams across the University Park campus should be recognized for their efforts in 2012.  The list of achievements on the field of play, including one national title and seven Big Ten titles, and in the classroom, including more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, is tremendous.

The spring season included a Big Ten and NCAA title from the wrestling team for second-straight season.  Three Nittany Lion wrestlers - Frank Molinaro, David Taylor and Ed Ruth - won individual national titles.  The Lady Lions, who clinched a Big Ten title on the BJC hardwood in February, earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.  The men's volleyball team earned a trip to the NCAA National Semifinals for the 27th time.  The women's lacrosse team reached the NCAA Quarterfinals.

Additionally, 171 Penn State student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades during the winter and spring seasons.  Men's gymnastics' Miguel Pineda was named a first Academic All-American.

The fall campaign was one for the Penn State record books.  Penn State won five Big Ten championships and had five coaches selected conference coach of the year.  The field hockey team (Char Morett) won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the men's soccer team (Bob Warming), women's soccer (Erica Walsh) and women's volleyball (Russ Rose) teams all won Big Ten championships.  Additionally, after leading the Nittany Lion football team to an 8-4 campaign, including six Big Ten wins, Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In postseason competition, the women's soccer team reached the NCAA College Cup Final for the first time in program history.  The women's volleyball team played in the NCAA National Semifinals for the 10th time in school history.  The women's cross country team captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional crown on its home course.

The story was much of the same in the classroom.  A fall record 100 Penn State student-athletes achieved Academic All-Big Ten recognition this semester, including a trio of 4.0 students - football's John Urschel, women's volleyball's Maggie Harding and women's cross country's Katie Rodden.  Football's Pete Massaro and Urschel earned first team Academic All-America honors.  Harding won the Elite 89 Award for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship for having the highest cumulative grade point average of student-athletes participating in the championship.

With so many events to choose from, narrowing down the list of outstanding Penn State sporting events from 2012 to just 10 was a challenge, but here are your 10 nominees for the top sporting event of the outstanding 2012 calendar year for Penn State Athletics.

From now until Dec. 28, cast your vote for the top event of the year.

7550286.jpegMen's Track's Robby Creese Breaks Four-Minute Mile
February 12, 2012 - Seattle, Wash. - Freshman Robby Creese runs 3:59.52 mile

Freshman phenom Robby Creese etched his place in Penn State history by becoming just the third athlete in school history to break the four-minute barrier in the mile run at the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington.  Riding the wave of momentum following a superb start to his first indoor track season in Happy Valley, Creese ran a 3:59.52 mile, which was the second fastest in Penn State indoor track history.  Creese joined Ryan Foster and Larry Mangan as the only three Nittany Lions to crack four minutes.

7674055.jpegWrestling Clinches Second-Straight NCAA Title
March 17, 2012 - St. Louis, Mo. - Penn State Clinches NCAA Championship

Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Penn State wrestling team reached the mountain top of the wrestling world for the second-straight season with a truly dominant performance at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.  The Nittany Lions mathematically clinched their third all-time team national title during the morning session inside the Scottrade Center on final day of competition at the three-day tournament.  Penn State put icing on the cake with three individual national champions, including senior Frank Molinaro (149), sophomore David Taylor (165) and sophomore Ed Ruth (174), who finished the 2011-'12 season with a combined record of 88-0.  Penn State cleared second-place Minnesota by 26.5 points in the final team standings.

8416705.jpegWomen's Basketball Beats LSU for Sweet Sixteen Berth
March 21, 2012 - Baton Rouge, La. - Penn State 90, LSU 80

When the 2012 NCAA Tournament draw was released, the fourth-seeded Lady Lions knew their road to the Sweet Sixteen would likely include a clash against fifth-seeded LSU on its home floor.  The Big Ten regular season champion Lions dispatched UTEP in the first round in Baton Rouge, setting up a showdown with the host Tigers for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.  LSU led 37-36 at halftime before claiming a 50-44 edge in the second half.  However scoring runs of 9-2 and 8-2 from Penn State in in the second half, along with a 30-point night from Maggie Lucas fueled the Lions for a 90-80 victory over LSU in a hostile Maravich Center.  The Lady Lion victory sent Penn State into the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.

7821970.jpegMen's Volleyball Tops George Mason for 14th-Straight EIVA Crown
April 28, 2012 - Rec Hall - Penn State 3, George Mason 1

Penn State's string of success in the EIVA is unmatched.  On the heels of the heels of claiming the best record in the conference in 2012, Penn State earned the luxury of hosting the championship match on its home floor.  The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions used 15 kills from Joe Sunder and 11 kills from freshman Aaron Russell to claim a 3-1 victory over George Mason in the EIVA title match inside Rec Hall.  The Lions quickly built a 2-0 lead after a strong start to the match, but George Mason answered by winning the third set.  Nonetheless, Penn State erased a 12-9 Patriot lead in the fourth set en route to the victory, automatic bid in the national semifinals and its 27th appearance in the NCAA Championship.

navyfootball.jpgFootball Downs Navy for Bill O'Brien's First Win
September 15, 2012 - Beaver Stadium - Penn State 34, Navy 7

Following an 0-2 start to the 2012 season, the Nittany Lion football team had one of the best practices of its season on the Monday of Navy week.  Penn State did not look back from there.  Led by three touchdowns from standout sophomore receiver Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions rolled past Navy, 34-7, en route to the first victory for head coach Bill O'Brien.  The Lions led 20-0 at halftime following a pair of Robinson scores and a third touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to Jesse James.  McGloin finished with four touchdown passes, and sophomore Mike Hull put an exclamation point on the victory with a 74-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second half.  O'Brien received a shower of water when the clock ticked to 0:00, and the win kick-started a string of five-straight victories for the Nittany Lions. 

8416731.jpegField Hockey Shuts Out Michigan for Big Ten Title Sweep
November 4, 2012 - Iowa City, Iowa - Penn State 2, Michigan 0

On the heels of winning the Big Ten regular season title, the Nittany Lion field hockey team capped off an impressive run through the postseason tournament draw with a dominant defensive performance against third-seeded Michigan.  Standout senior forward Kelsey Amy tallied both of Penn State's goals to lead the Nittany Lions to a 2-0 victory over the Wolverines and their second-straight Big Ten Tournament championship.  Senior goalkeeper Ayla Halus notched three saves and earned her fourth shutout of the season.  The victory boosted the Lions into hosting NCAA Tournament competition for second time in three seasons.

8308722.jpegWomen's Cross Country Claims NCAA Regional Title on Home Course
November 9, 2012 - Blue/White Course - Penn State Clinches NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional

There is no better motivation for a team to enter a season knowing it has an opportunity to host postseason competition at home.  When the Nittany Lion cross country team began its formal preparations for 2012 at the end of the summer, it knew the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals loomed on the Blue/White Course loomed in early November.  Penn State took full advantage of the opportunity and unseasonably warm weather to edge No. 9 and defending NCAA champion Georgetown (61-63) for a victory.  Junior Victoria Perri and senior Brooklyne Ridder led the way with fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively.  The Lions went on to finish 14th at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.

8416748.jpegFootball Ousts Wisconsin on Senior Day to Remember
November 24, 2012 - Beaver Stadium - Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 OT

It would have been hard to script a better ending to the 2012 football season.  A senior class that will forever be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of success it achieved, even on its special day.  After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin.  The Lions rallied back to take a 21-14 lead until the final 18 seconds of the game when the Badgers sent the contest into overtime with a late score.  Sam Ficken's leg put Penn State up 24-21 in OT before a missed field goal preserved the Senior Day win.  Defensive tackle Jordan Hill was the star of the show.  Hill was simply not going to let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles in dominant fashion.

8369918 (1).jpegWomen's Soccer Edges Florida State in Dramatic Fashion for first Trip to College Cup Final
November 30, 2012 - San Diego, Calif. - Penn State 2, Florida State 1 OT

After winning its 15th-straight Big Ten title, the Nittany Lion women's soccer team etched its place in program history with a remarkable run through the NCAA Tournament.  But the string of postseason victories will be trademarked by a soggy night in San Diego on the final day of November.  The Nittany Lions had been to the College Cup three times before their trip to the West Coast, but never to the College Cup Final.  Senior midfielder Christine Nairn changed that with an overtime goal that will live in Penn State women's soccer lore forever.  After taking a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, Penn State held on until the final 48 seconds when Florida State tied the contest in improbable fashion.  Nevertheless, Penn State's senior class was not going to let the season end.  A long pass from Maddy Evans on the right wing into the box set up Nairn's tap-in, game-winner from six yards out, sending Nittany Lion women's soccer into the College Cup Final for the first time in program history.

8393292.jpegWomen's Volleyball Punches Ticket to 10th NCAA Semifinal
December 8, 2012 - West Lafayette, Ind. - Penn State 3, Minnesota 1

Faced with the task of needing a third victory over the same team to earn a spot in the NCAA National Semifinals, the top-seeded and Big Ten champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team entered its regional final match in Purdue's Mackey Arena focused on the task at hand.  Penn State built a 5-0 lead over eighth-seeded Minnesota in set one en route to a 1-0 lead in the match.  No strangers to adversity, though, the Nittany Lions dropped set two and found themselves in a 23-21 deficit in the third set.  Just two points from going down 2-1 in the match, Penn State answered.  Micha Hancock and Deja McClendon combined for four-straight tallies to make it 25-24 before Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott finished the match with a kill, punching Penn State's ticket into the NCAA Semifinals for the fifth time in six season and the 10th time in school history.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: NCAA Semifinal Post-Match Press Conference

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hear from head coach Russ Rose, Dominique Gonzalez and Ariel Scott following Thursday's 3-1 setback to Oregon inside the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

NCAA Semifinal Match Blog - FINAL: No. 5 Oregon 3, No. 1 Penn State 1

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NCAA Semifinal Practice Day Coverage

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Welcome to live match coverage of the top-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team in the NCAA National Semifinals.

Take a look through the running blog from Penn State's 3-1 setback to Oregon in the NCAA semifinals inside the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

Semifinal One - No. 3 Texas 3, Michigan 2
The third-seeded Texas Longhorns rallied from 2-1 down against unseeded Michigan for a thrilling five-set victory in the first semifinal on Thursday night.  Michigan played a tremendous match against the talented Longhorns, but Texas built an early lead in the fifth and never looked back.  Texas punched its ticket to the national championship for the first time since 2009 when the Longhorns fell to Penn State in Tampa.

Set One: Penn State 25, Oregon 21
The Nittany Lions started fast en route to a 7-3 lead before Oregon used its first timeout, but the Ducks battled back to square the match at 10-10.  From there, neither team led by more than one tally until a crucial solo block from freshman Megan Courtney put the Lions up 22-20 late in the set.  The Nittany Lions tallied three-straight blocks to make it 24-20 before Oregon answered.  Nonetheless, Katie Slay buried a kill to make it a 5-1 run to hand the Lions a 25-21 set victory.  The blocking was the difference in the first set, as Penn State out-blocked the Ducks 6-0.  Middle hitter Nia Grant led the way with four kills on .429 hitting.  As a team, the Lions hit .220 in the opening set.

Set Two: Oregon 30, Penn State 28
After a strong finish in the first set from the Nittany Lions, Oregon wasted little time grabbing a lead in the second.  The Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 advantage out of the gate before building a 9-4 edge.  On the Katherine Fischer kill that set the score at 9-4, Nittany Lion setter Micha Hancock came down on Katie Slay's foot.  Hancock had to leave the floor for 12 points, but returned.  While she was out senior Kristin Carpenter, who was the setter on the 2012 national title team, stepped in and did a nice job running the offense under the circumstances.  Oregon led by as much as 10 in the second before a four-point scoring burst from the Lions trimmed the lead down to six.  The Nittany Lion rally continued, and Penn State squared the match at 24-24 on a combined block from Scott and Grant.  In all, the Nittany Lions out-scored Oregon, 14-4 to tie the match.  Penn State had two set point chances, one at 25-24 and one at 26-25, but the Ducks held on en route to a 30-28 set victory.  Credit the Lions for a tremendous comeback in a set where they played a large chunk without first team All-American Micha Hancock on the floor.  Nevertheless, Oregon made big plays when it needed to and the score is tied at 1-1 heading into the intermission.

Set Three: Oregon 25, Penn State 22
The third set opened much like the second set ended with a tight margin on the scoreboard.  Oregon stretched the lead to three points (9-6) on a block.  Oregon led by as much as four, but the Lions did a nice job keeping the margin within striking distance.  In doing so, the Lions used four-straight tallies to claim a 20-19 edge late in the set.  However, two huge kills from Oregon outside hitter Katherine Fischer put the Ducks back on top, 21-20, before the Lions had an answer.  A passing error made it 22-20 Oregon, and Fischer followed with another clutch kill to set the margin at 23-20.  Penn State closed within one, but the Ducks were too much down the stretch.  Leading the match 2-1, Penn State heads into the fourth set needing to find a way to slow down Fischer and Brenner.  The Oregon duo has combined for 30 kills in the first three sets.  

Set Four: Oregon 25, Penn State 19
The Ducks saved their best set for what ended up being the last set of night.  Oregon came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth, grabbing a 9-3 lead on 1.000 hitting and three aces.  From there, the Ducks never looked back.  The set was tied at 1-1, but that would be as close as the Nittany Lions would get.  Oregon led by as much as 10 during the final frame.  Penn State closed to within five late, but Oregon's offensive attack was too much.  Looking at the final stats, Penn State out-blocked Oregon 19.5-10.0.  However, Oregon's quick-tempo offense led by 17 kills from Liz Brenner fueled the Ducks to their first NCAA championship match in program history.

Final Thoughts
The momentum turned in the second set on Thursday night in Louisville.  The Lions had chances to close out the set for a 2-0 lead, but Oregon made a series of big plays for the 30-28 victory.  Additionally, Hancock's left leg injury prevented her from getting off the floor like she normally does from the moment she returned mid-way through the second set until the end of the match.  Oregon took advantage of the Penn State's rotation when Hancock was across the front line and not able to block in her normal fashion.  Nonetheless, all the credit goes to the Ducks.  They played a superb match, making big play after big play when they needed to.  Oregon setter Lauren Plum was terrific running the offense.  Scott led the Lions with 18 kills.  Hometown hero Deja McClendon added 14 kills.  The Nittany Lions graduate two seniors who brought outstanding leadership to the program - Kristin Carpenter and Marika Racibarskas.  The Lions return their entire starting lineup from the 2012 team, including all four All-Americans.  Penn State finished the season 33-3 with a Big Ten title and its 10th appearance in the NCAA National Semifinals.  Coach Rose said after the match that the team will head into the offseason and learn from Thursday night's match and look to grow from it.  Congratulations to the Lions on a terrific season.  The future is very bright for the program moving forward.


NCAA Semifinal Preview VIDEO:

Statistical Comparison:


Penn State








Team Hitting Percentage



Opponent Hitting Percentage



Blocks Per Set

3.00 per set

1.80 per set

Top Attacker

Scott - 3.73 kills/set

Bergsma - 4.93 kills/set

Top Blocker

Slay - 1.32 blocks/set

Finley - 0.76 blocks/set

Top Defensive Specialist

Gonzalez - 3.60 digs/set

Jacob - 4.46 digs/set

Stay tuned for live coverage from the KFC Yum! Center as the action transpires on match day in Louisville, including live updates after each set during the match.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony