All during preseason we were looking forward to the start of Big Ten season and the home opener against Nebraska. This was a game that was highly anticipated by both teams and by volleyball fans everywhere.
We spent the days leading up the match this week preparing as team, watching film and practicing hard. Nebraska is a great team full of talented players, so we knew going in it was going to be a tough match.
I couldn't be more proud of my team after the victory Wednesday night.There are still some things we need to get better at as a team, but I ultimately think we fought well as a whole. Long rallies kept the Penn State faithful on the edge of their seats. Consistency is definitely something we need to work on, but Wednesday was the first big step towards our goal of reclaiming the Big Ten title. Go State!
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team will tell you
time and time again that it heads into every match that it plays with the same
goal, the same attitude and the same expectation.
But if you sat in Rec Hall on Wednesday night among 3,374 other screaming fans
and watched the Lions rally back to knock off third-ranked Nebraska, you might
make the argument that the conference-opening match felt a bit more important.
The Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers displayed what looked more like a postseason
volleyball matchup as each team put it all on the line in the Big Ten season
opener. After dropping the first set 25-23, Penn State found momentum and
powered back to win three straight sets and take the match 3-1 over Nebraska.
Even Penn State head coach Russ Rose, who was a coach at Nebraska 36 years ago,
noticed the intensity during the midweek match.
"That was a hotly-contested match and I thought we did some things really well
and I thought we did some things that were characteristic of how we've played
lately," said Rose. "It's a nice win against a terrific opponent."
Despite his recent concerns for his team's ability to stay organized and
communicate well on the court, Rose said that he was pleased with the team
effort that he saw during the match. The head coach recognized that winning
against a team that was the number one squad in the country a week ago is
something to be noted.
"When you get a couple of heavyweights sometimes it looks like a pillow fight
and sometimes it looks like a brawl," said Rose. "It just means that we're
capable of playing with some of the better teams and that's good for us to know
Up two sets to one heading into the fourth set, the Cornhuskers took a 9-1 lead
that looked like it could be the start of a messy game. But the Lions went on
an eight-point run to tie it at nine and took the lead five points later to
make it 12-11 in their favor.
He said he wouldn't consider his actions a result of being happy, but Rose even
clapped in approval of his team's comeback.
"Well we were down 9-1 and we got ourselves the lead," shrugged Rose.
Junior Katie Slay said the comeback did more than just make her and her
teammates happy at the time.
"It makes a big difference in the match obviously because you get back into
it," said Slay. "But it also brings the crowd back into it which just fires up
the whole gym, fires us up and we're really appreciative that we had such a big
student section tonight and they brought a lot of energy."
The middle hitter tallied 10 kills on a .600 attack percentage and agreed that
the team's one was a joint effort from start to finish.
Junior Ariel Scott had the hot-hand on the evening, ripping 23 kills on .360
hitting and contributing a timely service ace too. The right-side hitter said
that her setter, Micha Hancock, was another big part of the team's win as she
seemed to have a good vibe with most of the Lion hitters all night.
"Micha and I had a good connection tonight so hopefully we can continue that
throughout the Big Ten season," said Scott.
The win over the Cornhuskers puts Penn State at 11-1 this season and 1-0 in Big
Ten play. The Lions will continue their conference start-up with another match
in Rec Hall against Iowa this Saturday at 8 p.m.
Slay said that there will be no time to rest before her team's next match.
"It's always good to come away with a win but we know it's just the very
beginning," said Slay.
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If you've looked at the calendar view of the Penn
State women's volleyball schedule for this season, you've probably noticed that
it is about to start looking a lot different.
Instead of playing two or three matches in a weekend against multiple opponents
in round robin tournaments and sponsored invitationals, the Nittany Lions will
begin to play more mid-week matches and primetime weekend matches.
And it's all thanks to the start of the Big Ten season.
The fourth-ranked Lions will take on No. 3 Nebraska at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in
Rec Hall. The match will feature the first two Big Ten teams to compete this
The Cornhuskers held onto the top-ranking in the Division I AVCA Coaches Poll
for the past two weeks, but were recently knocked down as they weathered their
first loss of the year to Iowa State last Saturday. The loss dropped Nebraska
to an 8-1 mark heading into conference play.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose knows that his team's first conference opponent
is nothing to overlook. Rose said that the high rankings of Nebraska should be
a good indicator to his athletes of just what they are up against.
"That should be enough motivation for the players to get themselves together
and be ready to go," said Rose. "If the players get themselves together and do
what they're supposed to do then maybe we have a shot."
In their first season as a part of the Big Ten conference in 2011, the
Cornhuskers split with the Lions, winning their opening match last September
but falling in Rec Hall last October. Nebraska went on an impressive run in
conference play and finished its 2011 season in the second round of the NCAA
Tournament after losing to Kansas State.
For Penn State, with a 10-1 record heading into the midweek match-up Nittany
Lion middle hitter Katie Slay said that she and her teammates are anxious for
the start of conference competition. But the junior recognizes that the
outcomes of the Big Ten matches have a bit extra riding on them.
"Once you get into Big Ten season it's go-time," said Slay. "Every game counts
toward the Big Ten Championship and that' definitely our goal so we have to
play hard every night."
Rose said that he was unhappy with the way that his team played the last two
weekends, and needs to see steady improvement if his athletes want to compete
against conference powerhouses like Nebraska.
"Every team you play is a little bit different," said Rose. "The key is to get
better throughout the season and the players need to really come to grips with
what they want out of the experience."
This weekend we were privileged to host the Penn State Classic where we faced Duquesne
University, University of Portland and Eastern Illinois University here at Rec Hall. It was a beautiful weekend in State College and a great one for Penn State. Football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball all won their games at home in front of our loyal Penn State fans. The campus was buzzing with excitement.
There is always something special about playing at Rec Hall in front our home crowd. Before this year, I had been to Rec to watch matches and I had a great time along with everyone there. However, seeing the crowd and hearing the band playing from the court made me even more grateful for the opportunity to be a Nittany Lion. The support we receive is something really special. This was my second weekend getting to play in Rec Hall and my first time getting on the court. Honestly, I was not really nervous but thrilled for the opportunity to become a part of the volleyball tradition here at Penn State. Playing in the gym this weekend was amazing. I don't think there is anyone on the team who ever takes for granted how blessed we are with the support we receive at each match. We truly have the best booster and fans. After our game on Saturday night we had an after game meet and greet with our boosters. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging.
Every time we step on the court and compete we learn more about ourselves as a team and individuals. This weekend was no exception. We continue to take what we learn and work hard in the gym to improve and prepare for the matches ahead. We are looking forward to Nebraska coming to visit us on Wednesday and beginning the Big Ten season. It will be a great match.
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Rec Hall played host to six matches, 21 sets and
more than 7,000 volleyball fans during this past weekend's Penn State Classic.
Three of those matches and nine of those sets belong to the Nittany Lions
as the fourth-ranked squad went undefeated in their last weekend of
Penn State swept all three of its opponents in the weekend, including
Portland on Friday night, Duquesne on Saturday morning and Eastern Illinois on
Saturday night. The Lions' offense tallied a .440 hitting percentage for the
tournament thanks to a strong passing game and a few hot hands.
Junior middle hitter Katie Slay attacked with confidence in all three
matches and racked up a .720 attack average of her own. But Slay said that the
most impressive player in blue in white all weekend was a teammate who didn't
do a lot of attacking.
"I think Micha [Hancock] was just doing a really good job of setting the
ball high," said Slay. "We knew we had shorter blockers so we could get
ourselves in a good position to take good swings."
Hancock stayed in system with her hitters throughout the weekend and
enabled the offense to be spread between several athletes.
"It was nice to see Megan [Courtney] and Deja [McClendon] and Maddie
[Martin] and Ariel [Scott] and myself at the net so much," said Slay. "It's
encouraging to me and helpful to Micha to have a lot of options and I think it
was good to see that from match to match."
But after two matches in the same day on Saturday, Penn State head coach
Russ Rose said that he still sees a few issues on his team's side of the floor.
"I would say we shouldn't be tired," said Rose. "I think serving is bad, I
think communication is bad - I think all of those things are big problems."
At the end of their three matches the Lions garnered 34 service errors. Redshirt
middle hitter Erica Denney said that the numbers speak for themselves, and that
sometimes flaws are a good thing.
"Our biggest focuses, I think one is obviously serving," said Denney.
"That's kind of an individual thing and we really need to focus on that so make
each other better. We need to be confident behind the service line and I think
just work into a rhythm. If we could just really get a flow going it would
really help us out."
And the Nittany Lions are hoping to get a flow going sooner than later as
they open up the Big Ten season with their first conference match on Wednesday
at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
Rose said that the start of conference play not only changes the look of
his team's schedule on a weekly basis, but also adds a few extra expectations
to the formula.
"It changes things," said Rose. "You train in the preseason to be strong
and healthy and ready to go and that's part of the equation, being strong
physically, but you've got to be tough mentally."
Penn State will have Monday off to take a rest, and then practice Tuesday
and Wednesday before facing No. 1 Nebraska for the midweek match-up.
Slay said that ultimately, the start of conference play means that she and
her teammates have one extra reason to compete for.
"You take every opponent seriously and you respect every opponent but once you
get into Big Ten season it's go-time," said Slay. "Every game counts toward the
Big Ten championship and that's definitely our goal so we have to play hard
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - The Recreation Building serves as the host site for its 20th Penn State
Classic since 1987 this weekend. The Division I volleyball tournament and the
Nittany Lions welcome Portland, Duquesne and Eastern Illinois to State College
for a six-match tournament schedule.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose has prepared his teams each year that the
competition comes to town, but he said that his game-plan for this weekend is a
bit different than usual.
"In the past I've spent a lot more time in match preparation of other teams and
I've decided this year to spend less time doing that," said Rose. "I'm trying
to get our team to be a little more organized and together."
Rose said that in past years he was concerned with watching hours of opponents'
game film and tried to find every angle of play that his team needed to defend.
But with a starting line-up that has been featuring a freshman, three
sophomores and three juniors, Rose is more concerned with getting his Lions in
Penn State will play on their home court three times over the weekend beginning
with Portland at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Lions then take-on a two-match day as
they will face Duquesne at 10 a.m. on Saturday and wrap things up against
Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. that evening.
The Nittany Lion coach said that all three of his team's opponents are teams
that he expects to play a lot of athletes that he has never seen before. In
order to defend a largely unknown group of competition, Rose said that his
players all need to be ready to go.
"For us to be successful a lot of people have to go in there and do good things,"
said Rose. "From my standpoint it's, you can give people opportunities but they
need to take advantage of the opportunities. I don't ever put a kid in thinking
they're going to screw up. I put a kid in thinking that they're going to make a
positive impact on that rally or the outcome of the match."
One student-athlete that Rose has been particularly impressed with is the
diving and digging sophomore defensive specialist Lacey Fuller.
"She just plays really hard," Rose said of Fuller. "She practices hard and when
she's all in it's a great part of her make-up."
Fuller has come to be known for her bright, red hair and love of the sport of
volleyball. She is also quite the talker.
"I like to talk a lot and keep the energy going in drills because sometimes it
gets a little bland," admitted Fuller.
The back-row specialist said that she agrees with her coach's decision to focus
more on organizing the team this season. She said that when it comes down to
it, she and her teammates are the ones that make the plays on the court and
need to figure out how to optimize their play before they can defend an
"I think that in practice especially there will be drills where we're the ones
that have to keep ourselves in it and [Rose] has no control," said Fuller. "We
need to be focused all the time and make less errors and be more consistent."
And as they do after every practice, the Nittany Lions gather at the net for
about five to 10 minutes and just talk it out. Fuller said that Penn State has
a team first attitude and that is its main focus this weekend.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The fourth-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns home on Friday
to kick off a trio of matches in Rec Hall.
Continuing the new video feature for the 2012 season, junior outside hitter
Deja McClendon took some time to discuss the libero position with sophomore
Dominique Gonzalez.Take a look at an
informative conversation between two Nittany Lion starters.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a pair of Top 10 victories over
Stanford and Texas, the second-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team
travels to Chicago this weekend for matches against DePaul, Oregon State and
In a new video feature for the 2012 season, junior outside hitter Deja
McClendon took some time to discuss the art of setting with sophomore setter
Micha Hancock prior to practice this week.Take a look at an informative conversation between two integral pieces
to the Penn State attack.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Saying this past weekend was exciting would be an understatement. Not only was it our home opener against Stanford, we finally hosted the Nike Big Four tournament after two long years of anticipation. There's nothing better than four great teams all playing under the same roof, especially when that roof happens to be Rec Hall.
It was a long preseason and we were all ready to put ourselves to the test against other top-ranked teams. This is what we work for all year. None of us could wait for the challenge. Monday rolled around and campus was buzzing. The air was thick with excitement. It was the home opener for football, the pep rally, and the Nike Big Four; what more could one ask for? Home games also mean the opportunity for us to see our friends and family. For many of us we saw our parents for the first time since the start of preseason. This, in addition to the commotion around football, we had to work extra hard to stay focused on what was important. We had a week of productive practices and preparation, and finally it was show time.
On Friday night we played Stanford. It was a long and grueling match against a great team. This was probably the longest match of many of our careers, lasting almost three hours. It was exactly the test we were asking for. A three-hour match does not only test your endurance, but tests your mental toughness and will to win. It is safe to say we passed that test, coming away with the W in five sets. Our next opponent was longtime rival, Texas. Although many of us were fatigued from the preceding match, we had to stay strong and prepare ourselves for Texas. We won the first set against them, but like coach always says, one set is not the match. We knew that they would play better the next two sets. After a three set slugfest we came away with another W. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. For now, back in the gym to prepare for the remainder of preseason and the commencement of Big Ten competition! ONE TEAM!
The weekend before classes began we were invited to play in the Active Ankle Challenge against WKU, Moorehead State, and U of L at the YUM Center in none other than my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. Knowing that we were going to play in Kentucky made the end of preseason that much more motivating and exciting. We packed up our bags Thursday morning and headed to the airport anxious to play our first game of the season.
When we arrived in Louisville we took a trip downtown to DuPont Manual, my high school where I was recognized and my jersey was retired. It was amazing to see what kind of transition I had made from the high school game to now. It was an extremely proud and exhilarating moment to be representing Penn State and to be sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my teammates.
One thing that I will never forget about this trip is how it felt to win a match in the YUM Center. At the start of the Louisville match I had a steady stream of chills running through my body almost like electricity. When the lights turned off for team introductions it was nearly impossible not to imagine the national championship that will be played there in December. Ever since I stepped foot in the arena in high school I knew it would be a dream come true to play a game there. Now I have expanded my dream to playing a championship match there. And that is what we are working for every day.