By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- The top-ranked Nittany Lions head on the road to face fourth-ranked Nebraska
on Sunday at 3 p.m. The two teams are battling for recognition atop of the Big
Ten Conference as well as a strong end to the regular season. Take a look at a
few of the numbers heading into the match-up.
0: Penn State has not lost a Big Ten match yet
this season. The Lions hold onto an 11-0 record in the conference with nine
matches left in the regular season.
2: Nebraska has lost just two conference matches
this season, which came at the hands of the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes of
Ohio State. The Cornhuskers have tallied nine other victories inside the Big
4: This will be the fourth consecutive match that
the Lions play on the road over the past two weeks. The Lions have not been
away from home for this long since the beginning of conference play.
9: Before Ohio State defeated Nebraska this past
Friday night, the Cornhuskers tallied a nine-match winning streak in conference
12: Nebraska head coach John Cook has been at the
helm of the program for 12 years and has a pair of NCAA titles under his belt.
20: The two teams have faced each other 20 times
in their program histories. The Cornhuskers have taken home 12 wins and the Nittany
Lions have claimed the other eight matches.
40: Micha Hancock broke even in Penn State's most
recent victory over Iowa and has registered 40 services aces this season. Her
team has notched 107 total aces this year.
77: Penn State has played 77 sets of Division I
volleyball so far this season. They've won 15 matches in just three sets, three
matches in four sets and taken just four matches to five sets.
104: Nittany Lion junior Katie Slay continues to
use her 6-foot-6 body to stop opposing offenses from being successful. The
middle blocker has been credited for 104 blocks this season.
242: Senior outside hitter Gina Mancuso tops the
Cornhuskers' offense with a whopping 242 kills this year. She has been a force
at the net for the Nebraska offense.
265: Sophomore Dominique Gonzalez has become the
starting libero for the Nittany Lions and has dug up 265 balls in just 22
matches played. Gonzalez has become a wall in the back-row for the Penn State
1,079: Penn State head coach Russ Rose has won more
than 1,000 matches in his time with the Lions. As the leader of the program, he
has only lost 173 matches in 34 years of coaching.
This past weekend, after two grueling weeks on the road, we were finally back at home in Rec Hall! We had Purdue here on Friday night and Indiana on Saturday night. All last week in practice we did the usual preparations for the competitions ahead, focusing on the game plan and fixes for our little internal problems. Leading into the Friday match we had some serious external motivation after reading articles from the Purdue newspaper saying how their players believed that they could handle us at home.Naturally we, as the competitive people that we are, did not stand for this whatsoever. We were focused prior, as well as during the match. Our focus was on Ariel Turner, their outside and one of their best players. We knew if we could stop her it would really help us out. By the end of the match we had done just that. She only hit around a .125 showing that she had minimal impact on us. In the end we had success.
Saturday was the day we played Indiana. Practice early that morning was a little flat, which is never a great way to start off a game day. But we got through it. We then each spent the afternoon doing what we felt we needed to do in order to be ready to perform. Me personally? I spent the first half of my afternoon studying for an exam I had coming up and half the time resting/relaxing. Come 4 p.m. we had pregame meal. This was different than the usual pregame meal at home. This time we were fortunate enough to eat at the Nittany Lion Inn. They had everything from salad to fruit to potatoes to pork and more! It was absolutely delicious. After the meal we carried on with our usual pregame routine and into the match we went. Indiana played very well and we were our own worst enemy at points within the match. None of us were very pleased by the way we performed. However, a win is a win and now all we can do is work to be better before we play Ohio State on Wednesday.
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From one night to the next, a team of Division I
athletes will do whatever it takes to win a contest. And sometimes, when more than
one match is played in the same weekend, a squad can perform two completely
different ways and still come out with the win.
That was the case for the top-ranked Nittany Lions this past weekend.
Penn State swept No. 17 Purdue on Friday night in Rec Hall behind a strong
offensive performance and an equally strong defensive performance. The Lions
hit a team average of .393 against the Boilermakers and put up 9.5 blocks at
After the match, Penn State head coach Russ Rose gave a nod to his team's
all-around hitting performance, good passing and effective communication.
All in all, the Lions played a clean match and made a statement against a
On Saturday night, the Nittany Lions didn't play nearly as cleanly but they
still came away with a victory.
Penn State dropped the first set of the night against the Hoosiers after
Indiana took an early lead. The Lions went on to win the next three and take
the match, but hit just .197 as a team against their Big Ten competitors.
Rose noticed the change in demeanor of his team from one night to the next
too, but said he was ultimately pleased with the outcome.
"If you don't play your best and you win, you feel
fortunate about that," said Rose. "You try and pick up the cues that are going
to make you a better team in the future, a better teammate, and you go on from
And the statistics show that what held the team together was the
all-around effort of the entire squad on the weekend. Collectively, the Lions
put up 25 blocks, dealt eight service aces and put down 94 kills in the two
conference matches. Six of the 13 Nittany Lions registered double-digit kills
in the weekend as well.
"I think it's a team game and all the kids are good kids," said
Rose. "They want to do well for the team, I don't any of them think it's about
themselves, I think they know it's a team game."
wins on their home court, Penn State holds onto its top-ranked spot and
improves to 8-0 in the Big Ten.
The Lions are a little more than
halfway through the regular season and have 12 more matches left to play. At
the end of the weekend, Rose said that he is confident that his team can handle
the pressure of a Division I schedule.
"Every time we play
we get some opportunities to see things we need to get better at," said Rose.
"It's a long season and when you have a team that's
mentally tough with broad shoulders, they can handle all the expectations and
they get better and they can keep going along."
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-ranked Nittany Lions are getting set for
their fourth consecutive week of conference play. Penn State is undefeated in
Big Ten contests so far, but will face two more tests in Rec Hall this weekend.
After two weekends on the road in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, the
Lions have boosted their conference record to a 6-0 mark. In the midst of a
tough group of competition, the team has notched key Big Ten wins over then
ranked No. 3 Nebraska, No. 10 Minnesota and No. 21 Illinois.
This weekend, the Nittany Lions will face two more Big Ten representatives.
Penn State hosts No. 17 Purdue on Friday at 8 p.m. and Indiana on Saturday at 7
Both teams are ones that many of the Lions have seen before. But junior
Deja McClendon said that when she and her teammates are familiar with a
particular team, it usually means that that team is just as familiar with them.
"A lot of it is about our game plan and how well we can do what the coaches
ask of us," said McClendon. "For us, people know what we're going to do now and
we have to come out and we have to adjust. It's how well your team can adjust
to certain things that really shows how good of a team you are."
McClendon said that
the Lions frequently take time to watch film of their opponents before a
weekend of matches, but recently her team has been focusing on its own
production more than anything. Specifically, the outside hitter said that her
squad is trying to perfect the smaller aspects of their game.
"It's a lot about error-control because right not we have the tools to be good
we just have to cut out he mistakes that we make," said McClendon. "We have to
serve tough and pass well. That's always the key."
The veteran hitter said that her team has really been trying to eliminate
missed serves and be smarter about the choices they make at the net. And 17
matches into a packed 31-match season, McClendon said there is a particular
group of Nittany Lions that she and her teammates need to keep an eye on.
"Halfway through, you've got to check your freshmen and see how they're doing
because they're not used to playing this long," said McClendon. "That's one of
the main concerns about our team."
hitter Megan Courtney has seen the most action on the court in her debut
season, appearing in all 17 matches the Lions have played so far. But the
rookie seems to be handling the pressure well as she has contributed more than
100 kills on a 1.91 attack percentage and has been solid in the back row with
more than 100 digs too.
McClendon echoed the successes of her younger teammates and said that she loves
to see her team happy. And the 6-foot-1 veteran said that there's one thing
that always seems to put a smile on the Nittany Lions' faces.
"So happy to be home, there's nothing like playing in Rec Hall," said
McClendon. "We have such a big advantage playing here. We've just got to keep
pushing through and give the people a show."
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - When you see her freshman head-shot being blast up on the video boards of
Rec Hall, it may take you a minute to recognize exactly who she is.
Sporting a few
highlights and a lighter tone of brown on top of her head this season,
Dominique Gonzalez's hairstyle is just one of many new changes she has made to
her sophomore lifestyle.
In her debut season
with the Nittany Lions, Gonzalez was a fresh pair of arms in the back-row as a
defensive specialist and saw time in 29 matches.
This season, she
has not only seen action in all 59 sets that Penn State has played, but also
started in every single one of them.
So, what's the difference
"During the spring
I made a decision that I wanted to be the best player that I can be and
contribute to the team in the best way I can," said Gonzalez. "If that meant
playing libero than that meant playing libero and kind of controlling a little
bit more of the defense and passing aspect and make this team what it is."
Gonzalez has become
a staple in the back-row for the Lions and sports the opposite-colored jersey
each match as the starting libero. She leads the team with 194 digs and
averages 3.29 digs per set, some of which have proven crucial to the outcome of
veteran said she has also seen herself quickly become a leader solely based on
the amount of times that she's spoke up this season.
"I think the team
needed Lacey [Fuller] and I to both step up and be vocal out on the court and
kind of guide our freshmen and whoever is younger than us playing," said
Gonzalez. "We both contribute well in the back court, which I think is a big
But even though
Gonzalez has learned to love hanging out behind hitters that are almost a foot
taller than her, transitioning into the position as libero didn't necessarily
"When we watch film
there are tons of liberos that are really good at defense and defense wasn't
necessarily my strong-point coming into the season," said Gonzalez. "So I
studied a lot of what other liberos can do and how they widen their range on
defense and I tried to learn a little bit from them and tried to make myself
better as well."
The San Antonio,
Texas native said that she's used to studying and learning in order to get
better though. Her two older sisters, Jaci and Nicki, also played volleyball in
college and constantly coached her into a better player. Gonzalez said that
part of her competitive nature on her the court comes from the competitions her
and her sisters had growing up.
"They support me
now of course but we compete with everything," said Gonzalez. "My middle sister
[Jaci] was the All-Conference Digger in her conference when she was in college
and I think that's great and that's definitely a goal I have. But more
importantly, I just want to help my team the best way that I can. I want to be
So far she's helped
her team come pretty close to being the best, at least as far as the rankings
The Nittany Lions
hold the top-spot in the nation in Division I women's volleyball with an
unbeaten 6-0 mark in conference play and an overall record of 16-1.
5-foot-6 Texan said that the dominant record midway into the season doesn't
come as a surprise to her or her teammates. She said that the volleyball
program at Penn State is built on a legacy of success, and her entire squad
"The tradition and
the community behind it, it's like no other I believe," said Gonzalez. "That's
why I chose to come here. They support us and it's a great atmosphere to be
around and I love our team."
Still, there is one
thing that the southern specialist hasn't fully adjusted to in her time as a
"I'm still not used
to the cold," said Gonzalez. "I still overdress for days where its 60 degrees
and I'm freezing outside. It's probably like 75 degrees back home, which to me
is beautiful weather."
But at the end of
the day, 'Dom' said she has learned to deal with the chilly temperatures and
accepts the Pennsylvania climate in exchange for a new kind of family right
here in State College.
It's Nia Grant here, bringing you a quick inside scoop from this past weekend. On Thursday afternoon, after a day of classes and practice, we packed our travel bags and headed to the airport. The flight was nice and smooth, no turbulence (thank goodness), so I personally got a lot of homework and reading done from my classes earlier that day. After arriving in Wisconsin, we headed to the hotel, grabbed some quick dinner and hung out in our rooms for awhile. Our hotel was in a pretty nice location with nice views around a decent amount of restaurants so it wasn't too difficult to find something to chow down on. When getting back to the room, my roommate and I had a quick study session before we decided to fall asleep in order to be well rested for practice the next morning. It was at 10 a.m. so we had it pretty good!
Friday morning, we woke up and had a nice breakfast in the hotel room (oatmeal, english muffins, regular muffins, and eggs...SO GOOD!) On our way to practice, we all listened to a little music on the bus and then got to business! Practice went well, which definitely gave us a good feeling going into the game on Friday night. After the win on Friday, I think the team felt pretty good about going into Saturday's match, even though we knew we had some parts of the game that we needed to clean up.
We got into Minnesota late on Friday night and my roommate and I went on the hunt for ice cream! Unfortunately because it was so late nothing was open. We went back to the hotel room and watched the Minnesota versus Ohio State rerun from that night. As we watched Minnesota take the win, we knew we had some serious business to handle coming up the following night. Breakfast-practice-game time...GAME-TIME! We were ready! Going out against Minnesota, we knew they had quite a few great players and that we would really have to step it up as a team. We did just that. Coming out with a win we felt pretty good about how we played, but we still knew that we could improve on some things. During this week, we'll be in practice driving to get better for the upcoming opponents and to continue giving Penn State Athletics and its fans something to be proud of.
The last time I was asked to write a quick blog, was all the way back in summer. It was then, that the women's volleyball team had an event with the Special Olympics for a day full of fun. I now am reporting to you officially fiveweeks into my freshman year. It seems as though it's been much longer than only five weeks, but the truth of it is that it has been.
We all started training early into the summer. Since then, I can respectively say that the
attitude has not changed one bit. We all came in ready to go, ready to sweat, ready to work hard, and ready to work for that end of the year goal. As this goal relentlessly sits in the back of our minds however, we realize that we must take care of what is laying in front of us first. We had a solid preseason, followed by some good preseason tournaments. And before we knew it, Nebraska was starring us right in face. It was extremely exciting to start up the Big Ten season, and we were amped and ready to rumble.
Coming off of a great win over Nebraska we got back in main gym to prepare for Iowa. We knew Iowa was not a team to look past, and our coaches reminded us the importance of playing and maintaining that high level of volleyball, however it was evident that sometimes it is easier said than done. We ultimately did pull out the W, however each and every one of us knew that we did not play as well as we should have. Immediately following the game, we met as a team and made an agreement that we would learn from this, take no team lightly, and get back in the gym to grind it out.
We now are back in south gym, practicing and preparing for our next couple of big weekends on the road. This Friday we take on a solid Wisconsin team, and an equally as tough Minnesota the next day. Without a doubt, both teams will work tirelessly to knock us out, and their crowd will test our composure.
In conclusion, I would like to ask for whomever is reading this to say a little prayer for a dear friend of the team. Jay Thomas, a big fan of the sport and team was always such an inspiration cheering us on at every game and a couple of our practices. He was always handing out high fives and putting smiles on our faces. Truly an inspiring kind of guy.
Playing hard for you this weekend. Rest in Peace, Jay
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions took their second consecutive
conference win as they defeated Iowa in four sets in Rec Hall on Saturday night.
The win improves Penn State's overall record to 12-1 six weeks into the season.
But head coach Russ Rose was less than impressed with the effort from his
young squad, and attributed the better performance of the night to the visiting
"We were fortunate that we were at home and I would have expected us to
play a little bit better and play a little bit harder but I thought that Iowa
had a lot to do with that," said Rose. "I thought Iowa served really tough and
they played hard."
Coming into the match at 8-5 overall, the Hawkeyes and Iowa head coach
Sharon Dingman left it all on the court after each and every set. Rose said
that he recognized Iowa's tough demeanor and that his team showed considerably
less emotion during the match.
"The people that traditionally do some things well didn't play as well for
us tonight as we would have liked," said Rose. "But it's a match that, if
you're fortunate enough to win, maybe you learn a lesson and you go on from
And from there, the head coach said that his team needs to put a stop to
At times in 2012, the Lions have been plagued by attack errors and service
errors. In the match against Iowa, the Nittany Lions rendered 21 hitting errors
and eight service errors.
So when Rose needs his players to step up and eliminate these errors in
order to win a match, he gives them a very simple command.
Though the phrase is a short and quick one that Rose uses over and over again
inside the time constraints of a single match, his players said that the
instruction is one that rings loud and clear.
Junior outside hitter Deja McClendon said that her head coach has nothing
to hide when it comes to telling her and her teammates what they need to fix.
"Nothing is a secret with coach - definitely not," said McClendon. "He
tells us a million times at practice so everyone knows, or should know, what
they need to do. "Especially in a game, you know you feel when you're off and
you feel when you mess up."
McClendon registered a match-high 18 kills and 18 digs against the Hawkeyes
and provided the consistency that the Lions needed to finish off the conference
"We can't start off too lax," said McClendon. "I think that's our problem -
and if we start out lax it doesn't ever go well for us so that's what I'm
But the junior said that she and the rest of her fourth-ranked Lions know
that they have what it takes to compete and will continue to work on
eliminating the silly mistakes and the important ones. At the end of the night,
McClendon was just happy to get another win.
"No one's ever going to be perfect," said McClendon. "It's another 'W' in