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Weiskircher Gaining Confidence with Each Match

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11308187.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Setter Bryanna Weiskircher had big shoes to fill at the start of this season. Coming in as the setter behind three-time All-America setter Micha Hancock was no easy task. But through training and with the help of her teammates, Weiskircher is on her way to starting a legacy of her own.

The foundation of her college career began many years ago in Rockford, Illinois. She comes from a volleyball family, as her parents and three siblings each had a volleyball career themselves.

"Although I started [playing volleyball] in fifth grade, I grew up around [volleyball]. I was in the gym all of the time," Weiskircher said. "I was always the kid underneath the ball carts during my sister's practices."

In her early years as a volleyball player, she was as a middle hitter. She then moved to the outside until she was on a 15 and under club team. After that, she played on both the right side and as a setter. But it wasn't until her senior year of high school that she became solely a setter.

Her nine years of volleyball led her to continuing her career at Penn State. Weiskircher committed to Penn State during her sophomore year of high school on her third visit. The volleyball program, the academics and the Penn State atmosphere helped make the decision easy.

"I just completely fell in love with the school. Everything about it," Weiskircher said. "Playing under the legend of Russ Rose and carrying on the tradition that is Penn State volleyball is just amazing."

She spent her first year as a redshirt freshman, running the "B-side" offense at practice and working to make the "A-side" better. She watched and learned from Hancock from the other side of the net.

"[Micha] showed me how tough she was," Weiskircher said. "She showed me that [setting] is about making the hitters be the best that they can be and making an impact in any way you can. Whether it's from the service line, setting, blocking, or defense. "

In her five matches in the lineup this season, she has averaged 9.6 assists per set and has had five aces, eight kills and eight blocks. She led the Nittany Lions to victory against then No. 2-ranked Stanford last weekend and has helped the team achieve a 5-0 record on the season.

Head coach Russ Rose said Weiskircher has been gaining more confidence with the players that she is playing with and has adjusted well to playing at the collegiate level.

"She's progressing. She has a really good serve, she's a good blocker and her hands are good," Rose said. "One of the great intangibles of a good setter is the ability to make others better and the ability to take a bad pass and make a good set. That is why we practice everyday."

Another important aspect of being a setter is strong communication. It is crucial that a setter communicates with the hitters. Setters must understand where the hitters want the set, how they want the set and if they are ready for the set. Outside hitter Aiyana Whitney said Weiskircher has done a great job of communicating and gains more confidence everyday.

"Naturally, when any young player comes into a program like this, it takes a minute to find your feet. Through the communication from the hitters, I know sometimes it can be super overwhelming for a setter at any program, much less this one," Whitney said. "She's done a really good job working with us, trying to be as communicative as possible with us, as well as listening to what we need from her."

Weiskircher hopes to continue progressing with each practice and to continue winning as a team. But above all, her goal is to get the offense going during every match.

"Being able to spread out the offense is always great. Having four hitters with over ten kills is amazing and having that makes it so much easier for me."

Weiskircher and the first-ranked Nittany Lions hope to remain undefeated through this weekend as they travel to Sound Bend for the Golden Dome Invitational. They will first face Eastern Kentucky on Friday at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Penn State will take on Mississippi State at 10 a.m. and Notre Dame at 7 p.m.  

Kendall Pierce Impacts Team and Community On and Off the Court

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11308066.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From the moment that senior Kendall Pierce played in her debut collegiate volleyball game as a defensive specialist against Morehead State in her freshman year at Penn State, Pierce has made a dynamic impact on the team.

Pierce played in 18 matches her freshman year, and 35 matches her sophomore year, including the NCAA title win against No.12 Wisconsin. Last season, she took action in 37 matches, where she helped lead the Nittany Lions to their seventh national title, and she was honored as a 2014-15 Big Ten Distinguished scholar.

This season, Pierce has already taken a step forward from last year in the first five matches. She was recently nominated as a candidate for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award.

But Pierce recognizes that there is more to life than athletics, and she is actively displaying that by being involved within the community while excelling in volleyball.

"I think the community has helped me a lot in this position with this program," said Pierce. "I see how important it is, and I think it is a big thing of what Penn State is all about. I love the community and I love the people that are involved. I think there is so much more outside of athletics that if we can connect, it's really important to us."

Pierce will be the co-president for Athletes Take Action, a program where Penn State student-athletes visit local middle schools to talk to sixth graders about the dangers of bullying and how to prevent, report and take action against it. The student-athletes go to the students' homeroom classes, and they interact with the sixth graders by working on lesson plans and teaching them how to stand up for each other and to stop bullying.

"[This year], I will be writing out the lesson plans and getting all our student athletes involved in that," said Pierce. "I usually help with a lot of the special events, like how we as athletes can interact with the community and anything we can do with our team."

In addition, Pierce is involved in SAA, as known as the Student Athletic Advisory board. The board contains a number of student-athletes that work hard at exceeding on their competition fields, in the classroom as well as in the community.

"I was the treasurer for SAA last year, so I did a lot of outreach community events," said Pierce. "I will be graduating in December, so I'm no longer on the board officially, but I will be helping with them...I'll be doing a lot of prepping for this year, in terms of transition notes from the positions that I was in for others."

Pierce also volunteers with State College's Special Olympics.

This offseason, while Pierce was working on her defense, passes and serves, she also had a summer internship at The Village Atrium of Penn State with the assisted living.

"I fell in love [with my internship]," said Pierce. "I worked in the recreation department, and I fell in love with working with the residents and the elderly, and I could see my future in that...We did a lot of therapy to work with the residents on memories, on movement and their day-to-day living. We visited them a lot and we did little activities and crafts with them. It was a really nice working position where I got to connect with other human beings, which was really special."

Pierce will graduate in December. And in less than four years, she has accomplished so much, but none of it would have been possible if it wasn't for her time at Penn State.

"If I didn't choose [Penn State], I would always think 'What if?' in life, so this is my 'What if, go get it, see how it turns out,' and it's been the best. I wouldn't do it any other way," said Pierce. 

Energy in Rec Hall Sparks Nittany Lions for Weekend Wins

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11302036.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team took on ranked opponents for the first time this season in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge over the weekend, where the Nittany Lions defeated both No. 21 Colorado and No. 2 Stanford in three straight sets, respectively.

The strongest player from the two matches? The fans that were in attendance at Rec Hall. Most notably, the sold-out crowd of 6,055 supporters on Saturday evening as Penn State battled against Stanford.

"I think the key to the match was just the energy in the building," said head coach Russ Rose. "It was an electric evening...It was a great match against a really good team. Stanford is really good. I thought we had a really good game plan, but the hero of the game is the 6,000 people that came out and made the building electric. That's the story. We're the recipient."

Stanford jumped out to a four-point lead early in the first set, but the Lions quickly rebounded and regained momentum due to the fans' encouragement.

"[The crowd] is incredible," said senior Megan Courtney. "You make an error and the next play is a great play, and the crowd is right on cheering with you again. It's great to know that no matter win or lose a point, they're always going to have your back, and they always make sure that they're known to the other team, They were incredible tonight. That's the biggest crowd that I've played at here in Penn State, and it couldn't have come at a better time."

Aside from the fans, Courtney's efforts help lead Penn State to both victories over the weekend. Courtney led the team Friday and Saturday night in kills. She recorded 12 digs against Colorado and tallied her second double-double of the season with 11 kills and 13 digs against Stanford. She also rounded out her offensive success with two aces on Saturday evening.

"Megan hit .400 and leads in matches and digs [against Stanford]," said coach Rose. "It's a really good night for a captain to go out and play like that with some young kids."

Sophomore Ali Frantti, redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Haleigh Washington recorded double figure kills against Stanford, as well. Frantti and Whitney notched 13 kills apiece, while Washington followed behind with 12 kills.

"A lot of people really stepped up and did some great things. We had four people step up," said coach Rose. "Stanford had two people in double-digit kills, and we had four. It certainly gives you a better chance when you can spread the ball out, but Stanford power-played great."

Freshman setter Bryanna Weiskircher made a valuable impact on the offense, too. She had 18 assists and two aces against Colorado.

"I thought Bryanna really stepped up," said Washington. "I think she's beginning to step up and take a role as a setter and leader on the court, which is really good. Her and I are figuring out connections more, which makes it easier to run plays, so in practice, we'll work on that, and timing, tempo and transition."

Weiskircher also recorded a career-high of 41 assists against Stanford. She couldn't have done it without her teammates or the crowd.

"It's really great to have that kind of support behind me, so I'm not worried about 'Oh, I have to get this perfect set to the same person every single time,'" said Weiskircher. "I know I can distribute to whichever direction that I want to and I trust them to put a kill on whatever I put up, or keep it in play and make my sets even better. [The crowd] is just a great support system, even coming in as a redshirt freshman setter, who's never played in front of a big crowd like that. It's just electrifying and amazing."

Though Penn State is still ranked No.1 in the nation, that is no indication of the rest of the season to come.

"We go on the road next week. It's always tougher on the road. Obviously, Stanford experienced that...They saw a great venue and a great night for volleyball...Players will remember it. I'm sure there will be some great pictures that they'll look at, but it's not going to win any other matches for the rest of the year," said Rose.

Whitney's Growth Highlighted by Work Ethic

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11289767.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney was in middle school, she decided to follow her sister Anissa Whitney's footsteps of playing volleyball after she saw her on the court. Her sister mentored and taught Aiyana numerous volleyball skills as best as she could throughout the rest of middle school and into high school.

Nearly seven years later, in 2011, Whitney played in her first collegiate match at Penn State.

Today, Whitney is leading the way in helping a young Penn State team grow.

After the Penn State Classic, Whitney was named to the All-Tournament team. In the season opener against Buffalo, Whitney led Penn State's offense with a match-high of 11 kills on .400 hitting. Her skills continued to shine as she recorded five blocks and six kills against Stony Brook, and 14 kills and two digs against Villanova in the two matches on Saturday.

"This offseason, I worked to get my volleyball IQ up, studying the game as much as possible, working on my blocking and trying to be a bigger presence at the net," said Whitney.

Whitney's impact at net and on offense is nothing out of the ordinary, but as a senior, Whitney knew that it was her time to truly lead the Nittany Lions to success.

"[There's] more responsibility [as a senior], which at this point in my career, and I would speak for the rest of the seniors, we can embrace because we try to set the tone in practice, and try to set an example for the younger girls," said Whitney. "[Being a senior] is about taking on more responsibility, doing as much as we can, doing more and helping out the rest of the team in that."

Nonetheless, it was not an easy ride for Whitney to get to this point in her career. During her sophomore year, she redshirted. However, she wouldn't change anything about that year.

"Absolutely [that redshirt season] made a difference," said Whitney. "At the time, I was playing with incredible upperclassmen and they pushed me every day in practice. I learned so much from them, so I really cherished that year in terms of development and learning the game."

Whitney's growing talent is evident. Last season, during her redshirt junior year, she started every match, recorded 15 double-digit kill performances and led the team in kills on over 10 occasions - once with 10 kills against then-No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA national semifinals, and once with 11 kills in the national championship win against BYU.

Furthermore, she received second team American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honors and was honored as Big Ten Player of the Week (11/17) last year.

None of this would have been possible without the guidance from head coach Russ Rose and the other coaches.

"[The coaches] are super awesome. They help me get my game airtight, help me see the bigger pictures and seeing the game more and helping me take on more," said Whitney.

Her success continued this past summer as Whitney participated in the inaugural Big Ten Volleyball Foreign Tour. Big Ten volleyball student-athletes from all 14 schools traveled to Slovenia, Croatia and Italy to compete against some of the best athletes in the world as well as participate in community services initiatives.

Even with all these accomplishments, Whitney believes that she has room for improvement.

"I am definitely tired of getting tooled on the blocks, so it's definitely something I need to work on in the gym," said Whitney. "I need to work on my hands, getting the ball over and taking up more space. Just seeing the court more, attacking and making sure I'm playing defense."

Whitney has already made a huge mark on the Penn State women's volleyball program, but this is Whitney's final year, and she is more than ready to contend as the season wears on.

"Overall, I just hope that we can build to be a better team, build to play better together and work on getting back on the big stage," said Whitney.

Upperclassmen Led Nittany Lions to a Win in Penn State Classic

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11283007.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The two-time defending national champions opened the new season right where they left off. The No. 1 Nittany Lions swept Buffalo, Stony Brook and Villanova, respectively, over the weekend to win the Penn State Classic.

Even after losing the leadership of the likes Micha Hancock, Dominique Gonzalez, Nia Grant and Lacey Fuller, the returning veterans' direction and leadership helped guide the new-look team to success during the first weekend of action.

Senior Megan Courtney was recognized as the Penn State Classic Most Outstanding Player and redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Ali Frantti joined her on the All-Tournament Team.

"There were some jitters and a little bit of nerves coming out in a few of us," said Whitney. "I think it's just one of those things where each game, we have to get more comfortable playing in your gym. This is the place where the atmosphere is positive towards us, so if there is anywhere we need to play well, it's at home."

Whitney powered the offense with a match-high 11 kills to allow Penn State to open the weekend with a sweep against Buffalo (25-18, 25-12, 25-16). Sophomore Haleigh Washington added seven kills and five blocks. She also earned her first service ace in her collegiate career.

"Buffalo does some things really well," said head coach Russ Rose. "They've got a couple of athletic kids that take big swings. I'm sure there were some nerves associated with how they came out of the gate, but I thought there a lot of nerves associated with how some of our players came out. I thought Aiyana and Haleigh were pretty solid...Aiyana and Haleigh had nice jobs hitting tonight."

The first match of the season was also a homecoming for Buffalo Bulls head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz. Lipsitz was a four-time national champion at Penn State (2007-10), a two-time first-team All-American (2009 & 2010) and during her time at Penn State, the Nittany Lions won 109 matches in a row. Friday's match was the first match in her head coaching career.

"I'm a big fan of Blair Brown," said coach Rose. "That was the first match that Blair Brown ever lost in Rec Hall. She's doing a nice job. She's a great player. She's a great mentors. She's a fabulous role model, and I think Buffalo selected a great young person for the job."

Penn State won in straight sets (25-13, 25-13, 25-20) against Stony Brook Saturday afternoon. Courtney tallied 11 kills, nine digs and four blocks. Frantti recorded 10 kills, her first double-digit kill performance of the season. Washington added seven kills and four blocks.

Washington had a fantastic rookie season last year, but she's been working a lot this offseason in order to be an even bigger component to the team.

"I focused a lot on my mental game [this offseason]," said Washington. "I really wanted to have a good, strong IQ so that way, this year, the seniors wouldn't have to worry so much about me, they can focus more on the freshmen and the other new players on the court. I tried to get my IQ up, so I could see the block, see where I needed to attack, try to do the best that I could do for me, so I could bring it to the team, so we could be a more dynamic flowing team together. I just tried to get as good as I could be so the seniors could focus more on who they need to focus on."

The Nittany Lions finished off the weekend with a win against Villanova (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) to claim the Penn State Classic crown.

Courtney earned a double-double of 16 kills and 13 digs in the match. Whitney also posted double figures with 14 kills alongside two digs. Washington led the team in blocks with six, and Frantti had the second most digs of the match with 12.

Even with the three wins, the team will work to improve with each set on the floor.

"We're a work in progress for sure," said coach Rose. "Long way to go."

VIDEO: 2015 Season Preview - Women's Volleyball

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The two-time defending NCAA champion women's volleyball team begins its 2015 on Friday inside Rec Hall.

The Lions will be home three times this weekend, including matches against Buffalo (Friday at 7 p.m.), Stony Brook (Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Villanova (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.).

GoPSUsports.com paid a visit to pre-season practice to talk with head coach Russ Rose, along with seniors Megan Courtney, Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Haleigh Washington. Take a look.

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

VIDEO: 2015 Preview - One-on-One with Russ Rose

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The two-time defending NCAA champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns to action on Aug. 28 with a season-opening match against Buffalo.

GoPSUsports.com recently spent some time at preseason practice and caught up with head coach Russ Rose for an exclusive conversation to preview the 2015 season. Take a look.

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

VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.

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

VIDEO: 2014-15 Season Highlights

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. GoPSUsports.com takes a look back at the campaign in a season highlight reel.

Commemorating 25 Years of Penn State and the Big Ten

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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).

By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.

It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited to become a member in 1949.

The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would bridge a Midwestern league to the East.

The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.

Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten could foster.

"The Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week. "Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast, I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the time."

The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.

When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.

"I remember talking in front of the group about the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about at-large teams."

The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the classroom.

"From a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of the Big Ten."

The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.

"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."

It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.

"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno," Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"


The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.

Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost immediately.

"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs," Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that, we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten, collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."

At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.

"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was.  When you take a job, that is the job you took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."

The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field hockey program.

"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to be a first rate facility."

The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.

"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared," said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to be relevant."

Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92 Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally, more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten titles.

Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.

"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly 600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are immeasurable."

The women's volleyball program earned Penn State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative 16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA Championships since 1999.

Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.

The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0 record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships to date (2005 and 2008).

The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).


Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.

It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated relationships with premier student-athletes.

"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we go out recruiting student-athletes."

A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes,  increased visibility across the country for the department in a way that cannot be measured.

"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and the sport."

The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased revenues for each institution.

"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.


In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.


While the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success aids in the growth of the collective conference.

"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."

"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help one another out for the betterment of the conference.

"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."

Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.

A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.

"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the national scene."

Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks for itself.

By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote concluded 25 years ago today.


The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten titles in March of 2011.

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