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Checking in from Brazil: Day 4

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 4 

Greetings from Brazil!

We started off the day with a bus ride through what's called the "Beverly Hills" of Sao Paulo, which is an area where professional artists, athletes, lawyers and doctors live. Our Brazilian host, AD, said that what might seem like a nice neighborhood is still extremely dangerous, with robberies sometimes occurring. To prevent this, a majority of the homes were gated with electric fences with guards who live out front.

Our first stop was at a Catholic church. We were only there for about 15 minutes because locals were coming in for mass. The church was pretty on the outside but when we walked in everyone was in awe of the architecture. It was absolutely beautiful.

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There was artwork all over the walls and ceilings. We even got to see a baby getting baptized. A fun fact that I learned was that 70 percent of the population here in Brazil is Catholic which is pretty cool. 

They were also selling popcorn right outside the church which was different considering it was 9 a.m. We took some pictures and hopped back on the bus and headed to Sao Paulo's Central Park.  

We got off the bus and took pictures at a huge statue that was in the middle of the street. The statue depicted the early explorers in Brazil. 

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We then made our way through Ibirapuera Park. The park reminded me of Central Park in New York. There were people rollerblading, biking and jogging everywhere we turned. There were also people were selling coconuts, ice cream and hotdogs.

Yours truly,
#6 Nia Reed 

Hello everyone, Taylor Krause here!

This afternoon we had the opportunity to tour the Museau Afro Brazil, a museum highlighting the importance of African people in the formation of Brazilian culture in the central area of Sao Paulo. The museum was located in the middle of Sao Paulo's version of Central Park, called Ibirapuera Park. 

20170507_102906.jpgDodging bicycles and trying to keep Tori [Gorrell] from petting all dogs in sight, we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery in front of us. The stroll to the museum allowed us to burn off some calories from all of the food we have been eating!

The museum was filled with a variety of exhibits, allowing us to explore some of the Brazilian history and culture. One of the more interesting pieces involved a large number of slices of burnt toast with different faces and numbers on it. The meaning underneath the artwork is still up for interpretation.

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We learned a lot about the impact that the African people have had on Brazilian culture as well as art from the Africans and Afro-Brazilians.

After the museum, we had lunch as a team in the same place as yesterday. I guess you can say we like their meat! We also are big fans of their espresso. To keep the coffee people even happier, we ventured to a local coffee shop and bakery later on in the day.

A few people also went to a local church for Sunday mass and loved the experience. Afterward, our whole group took a bus to an Italian restaurant with the most amazing pizza. Ali Frantti set a new personal record with 10+ slices!

Hopefully it all burns off tomorrow as we have another match to play! Wish us luck! 

Thank you for all of your support and allowing us to have the times of our lives. I can guarantee you that we are soaking up everything on this trip, including the sun!

#13 Taylor Krause

Checking in from Brazil: Day 3

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 3 

Guess who's back, back, again? Carley Muller and Ali Frantti are back to tell you all about our trip!

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The day began with another great breakfast in the hotel. We took a short bus tour through part of the enormous city of Sao Paulo and saw some amazing buildings and cathedrals along with different neighborhoods in the city.

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Then we went to the Galeria Jose e Paulina Nemirovsky Arte Moderna - a modern art museum. It was cool to see different styles of art and learn about the history and the culture of Brazil. Needless to say, Haleigh Washington and Simone Lee were in their element.

It was a very cool experience to see the different styles of art and see some of Brazil's famous history. I (Frantti) know that a lot of my teammates were fascinated by the art sculptures, some even standing next to the sculptures mimicking their poses. Almeida Junior, a famous Brazilian artist, had many pieces in the museum and the most famous is called "The Longing" from 1899.

After another buffet lunch (with more tiny, strong coffee), we went to the Museu do Futebol and Memorial de America Latina. It was especially exciting for us seniors because this spring, Taylor Krause, Laura Broerman, and I (Carley) laced up our cleats and decided to play intramural soccer with our newfound free time. We learned pretty quickly that Laura, grass, and running don't mix well together after an injury during one of our games, so I'm actually not too sure how excited she was for the soccer museum...

The museum was inside the Estádio do Pacaembu, or the local soccer stadium, which was exciting to see in itself. As we toured the three-floor exhibit, we were able to learn all about the history of soccer as a whole, as well as Brazil's rich history with the beloved sport. When we entered, there were videos that allowed you to feel the energy of a live match in the stadium.

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There was also a room that allowed you to feel the devastation that the entire country of Brazil felt when their soccer team lost in the finals of the 1950 World Cup by one goal to Uruguay. My personal favorite part was the room with pictures of things that happened in history from the years Brazil participated in the World Cup. 

We capped the night off with watching Ohio State sweep BYU in the men's volleyball NCAA national championship match and cheered on our old director of operations Kevin Burch, (who is now an assistant coach at Ohio State) to his seventh consecutive NCAA national title! Congrats Burch!

Needless to say, I think what we all took away from today was that Brazil takes its soccer among other things, VERY seriously and that's just one of the many things that makes it such an amazing place.

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We want to say "obrigado" or "thank you" to everyone who made this trip a reality and opened our eyes to this beautiful country.

- #5 Ali Frantti and #10 Carley Muller

Checking in from Brazil: Day 2

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 2

After a full day of traveling, we arrived at our hotel in Sao Paulo and had a great lunch in the restaurant that included steak, pasta, seafood and so much more.

After lunch, we had time to get situated and prepare for our 5:30 p.m. match. We played Sao Caetano, which is a club team here in Brazil. To open the match, we exchanged gifts and gave Sao Caetano Penn State t-shirts and they gave us a huge box of tasty chocolates. It was a good match and we managed to win all four sets with the scores of 25-10, 25-16, 25-8, and 25-10.

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After the game, we took a group picture with players on both teams and thanked them for hosting us. It was awesome seeing our team back in action playing some unfamiliar faces across the net.

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For dinner, we went to the amazing Vivano Steakhouse. There was a huge salad and sushi bar and the waiters continuously brought out portions of meat or other foods to choose from. Not bad ending the day with some good ol' meat sweats! The restaurant was delicious and everyone had more than enough to eat. 

Throughout the day, both players and coaches have slowly but surely been learning a few words in Portuguese to communicate with the locals.

We can't thank the Booster Club enough for these opportunities and can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us! 

Thanks,
Emily Sciorra #2

Checking in from Brazil: Day 1

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Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 5-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 1 

Hi everyone it's Lainy! 

Today we began our travels to Brazil. We boarded the bus at Rec Hall around 12:30 p.m. and took off to JFK International Airport. Spirits were high and full of excitement. I think we must have taken in some laughing gas though because for the first hour of the trip we all had the giggles. We arrived at the airport after a long bus ride and grabbed some quick food together before getting to our gate.

Everything we have done so far has been in a big group and we've stressed to everyone the importance of sticking together and not wandering off alone, despite some of our curious minds. 

The flight was a total of nine hours. Most of us sat next to familiar faces and we were able to entertain ourselves with movies, games or books. Once the lights turned off, so did ours. Some girls were able to sleep the entire trip, which I think is a blessing, but most of us caught a couple hours of sleep before landing in São Paulo. 

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As we started our descent, our faces were glued to the windows to try and get a first look at where we were headed. It really is a concrete jungle. After landing, we went through customs, got our luggage and headed to the bus to drive a little over an hour to our hotel. 

20170505_112102.jpgAlthough the trip took about a full day of traveling in total, we didn't care. It was an experience in itself and every single person on this trip is so excited and grateful for the experience and adventure ahead of us. 

Thank you to all who helped make this happen. We hope to make you all proud, win some games and indulge in the Brazilian culture. Stay tuned!

Best,

Lainy Pierce #8 

VIDEO: Lee & Williford Talk Black History Month

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the final release of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with women's soccer's Salina Williford to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community. 

Throughout the month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball's THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out women's volleyball's full pep rally dance! 

VIDEO: Lee and Clarke Talk Black History Month

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the second of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with men's gymnastics student-athlete Leroy Clarke to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community.

Throughout the entire month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.

 

VIDEO: Lee & Rhodes Talk Black History Month

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  In the first of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with track and field student-athlete Tichina Rhodes to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community. 

Throughout the entire month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.

SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 

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Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


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With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.

2016 NCAA Tournament Preview Content Central - Regionals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 16 Penn State women's volleyball's journey through the NCAA Tournament is headed to the road as the Nittany Lions travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to square off against the top-ranked Huskers in in the NCAA Regional Semifinals at noon ET Friday, Dec. 9 on ESPNU.

"The opportunity to still be playing in the second weekend is something that's available to a limited amount of teams," head coach Russ Rose said. "We're happy to still be playing we certainly have a challenging opponent in playing Nebraska at Nebraska." 

Last week, the Nittany Lions (24-9) swept past LIU Brooklyn in the first round before taking down Pittsburgh in four sets to advance to the round of 16. Although regular conference opponents, Penn State and Nebraska (29-2) have not met in the tournament since the 2008 NCAA National Semifinals.

The winner of the Penn State/Nebraska matchup will move on to the round of eight, taking on either No. 8 Washington (28-4) or Arizona (20-14) in the NCAA Regional Finals Saturday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.

With the original field of 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament teams narrowed to just 16 remaining squads, Penn State is poised to make its 14th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regional Semifinals, a streak that stands as the longest in tournament history. The Nittany Lions have also made appearances in eight of the last 10 NCAA Regional Finals.

Take a closer look at the Nittany Lions as they head to the NCAA Tournament Regionals.

VIDEO: NCAA Tournament Press Conference - Regionals

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: No. 16 Penn State at No. 1 Nebraska
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A CLOSER LOOK: Features & Highlights

No. 16 Penn State Set for No. 1 Nebraska
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After defeating LIU Brooklyn in three sets and Pittsburgh in four sets in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Penn State has advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. 

In the first and second rounds of the tournament, the Nittany Lions competed against two teams they didn't see in the regular season. However, this coming Friday, the matchup is the opposite as No.16 Penn State (24-9) will take on No. 1 Nebraska (29-2) for the third time this season at the NCAA Regional Semifinals. 

No. 1 Nebraska
The Huskers are seeking back-to-back national championships after defeating New Hampshire and TCU in the first and second rounds of the tournament last weekend. They were crowned this year's Big Ten champions after finishing off the regular season with an 18-2 record in conference play.

"Nebraska is the defending national champion so they're especially confident at home," head coach Russ Rose said. "They're strong in each of the positions...Nebraska just had six players selected to the AVCA All-Region team."

In the regular season, Penn State fell to Nebraska in both matches. The two teams first met in November when top-ranked Nebraska visited Rec Hall and the Nittany Lions rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth set, but ultimately fell short. Less than two weeks later, Penn State traveled to Lincoln, but lost in three sets. 

"We played there a few weeks ago, so we're familiar with the facility and the quality of the opponent, Rose said." 

While first serve is set for noon, Nebraska set the single-season average home attendance record in collegiate volleyball during the regular season with more 8,600 attendees. 

"Playing at Nebraska is really tough because it's a huge gym with about 8,000 people in there and they're all rooting against you, so I think we learned that we need to start out strong and win the serve-pass game," junior Heidi Thelen said. "If we come out and play as a team and play together, we can do this. We're just really excited to go and have another opportunity to play there." 

The last time Penn State and Nebraska played in the NCAA Tournament dates back to the 2008 NCAA national semifinals, when the Nittany Lions battled to a five set win (25-17, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11) in Omaha. Penn State went on to win its second straight national championship that year, while also hosting LIU Brooklyn in the first round. 

Elite Coaching
Penn State's Russ Rose and Nebraska's John Cook are two of the top coaches in collegiate volleyball. Rose entered the year as the winningest coach in NCAA DI women's volleyball, atop the all-time coaching charts, before improving his career total to 1, 213 wins and 195 loses in his 38th season. Cook entered the year at No. 6 all-time, having improved his career record to 658-62 with a 497-64 mark at Nebraska.

The two programs have combined for eight of the last 10 NCAA titles.

"We're two teams that know how to win and how to compete to win a national championship," Thelen said. "It's going to be super tough and they're the defending national champions and we won two, two years before that. It's going to be a grind, close and tough, but I think we're all really excited and we've been pumped up all week."

Cook is in his 16th season as head coach for Nebraska and was recently named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the coaches and media, his first time earning the honor since the team joined the Big Ten. He has led the Huskers to three national championships - in 2000 defeating Wisconsin, in 2006, defeating Stanford and in 2015, defeating Texas. 

"The quality of the players that they have is very high," coach Rose said. "The coaching is very good and the support of the university is very positive so they're aware of where they should be with the talent that they have. They're a challenge for everybody."

No. 8 Washington vs. Arizona
If the Nittany Lions defeat the Huskers, they will move on to face the winner of No.8 Washington-Arizona in the NCAA Regional Finals Saturday. 

Eighth-seeded Washington earned the Pac-12 title finishing the regular season at 26-4, 16-4 in conference play. The Huskies swept their first two opponents, Texas A&M-C.C. and Kentucky, to advance to the round of 16. 

Arizona swept Cleveland State in the first round of the tournament and shocked No. 9 Michigan State with an upset in five-sets last Saturday. The Wildcats went 18-14 in the regular season and 10-10 in conference play to finish seventh, before earning their fourth consecutive at-large selection to the tournament.

"The [older] players that have been there and have experienced the national championship, so it's just really cool to be there because I haven't been there yet and makes me want to be there even more to experience all these things," sophomore Keeton Holcomb said. "They know what it takes to get there and that's something I want to do so I can help the younger players coming in as well and get to the same spot because I think it's a fun experience and it means a lot." 

Veterans Propel Penn State to NCAA Regionals
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a balanced offense from the upperclassmen, the Penn State defeated Pittsburgh in four sets (20-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-18) in the NCAA second round Saturday night in Rec Hall.

"It was a really competitive match," head coach Russ Rose said. "Pittsburgh is a great opponent and when we lost the first game, it was clear that they were more prepared to play at the onset than we were, but it steadied out. It was a good match. They played really well and they should be congratulated on a great season."

Juniors Simone Lee and Haleigh Washington led the offense with 14 kills apiece, with Washington hitting at a .462 efficiency. Junior Ali Frantti finished second on the team with 11 kills, hitting at a .308 clip.

"We played together well and we had three people with double digit kills. that gave us the balance that we needed," coach Rose said.

Lee recorded four kills early in the first set to stamp her name in the Penn State record book, as she moved into the top three on the single season kills list during the 25-point rally scoring era. Lee has 485 kills on the year and is 36 kills away from tying for second all-time.

The Nittany Lions knew they had to regroup the second set, having dropped the opening frame, 25-20. Lee opened up the scoring in the second set with a kill, before pounding another to spark an 8-4 scoring streak early on in the second set.

"Pittsburgh's good so it's hard to win 3-0 all the time," coach Rose said. "We didn't hit for a good efficiency in the first and they hit for a really high one. In the second game, we were a little better and they cooled off significantly. It's two good teams battling. That's what it is. That's what happens in the NCAA Tournament."

Lee also helped out defensively finishing second on the team with nine digs and two blocks. Washington powered the blocking unit with five blocks.

Penn State also knew that they had to build on their momentum from the second set win, and that's exactly what happened in the opening of the third set.

Washington and Detering teamed up for a big block that opened up a 7-2 run for the Nittany Lions. Washington led the offense for most of the set and eventually hammered a kill for set point.

"The start of the first match, we were all a bit high on our block," Washington said. "We came out of the halfway point in the first and we made the adjustment a lot lower because Pittsburgh's contact point is low, really strong and very aggressive. So if we just bring the contact point down on our blocks and just make sure we're low and over, that was the big adjustment that we made [from the first set], and it worked." 

@GOPSUSPORTS

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