Recently in Women's Volleyball Category
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The Penn State women's volleyball team finished
non-conference play this past weekend at the Penn State Classic tournament defeating
Albany, Eastern Kentucky, and Yale winning each match 3-0 in front of strong
The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lions opened the tournament
against Albany, only allowing the Great Danes a total of 16 points after all
three sets. Seniors Ariel Scott, Katie Slay, and redshirt freshman Aiyana
Whitney made a huge impact for the Nittany Lions offensively. Scott and Slay
both led the team with eight kills while Whitney had a hitting percentage of
.667 playing to a career high of seven kills, never giving Albany the chance to
come back from a slow start.
"I think it was a match that Albany never had an
opportunity to do what it was they wanted to do," head coach Russ Rose said.
"They've had a tough stretch up until this point and there wasn't much we could
do to assist them. Dom (Gonzalez) served 16 in a row and it was a relaxing
environment in our case at home. We got everyone who had a uniform into
The match allowed freshman Kelly Robertson to make her
debut in front of a lively Rec Hall. She opened her first college match with
three kills and two block assists closing out a victory for the Nittany Lions.
"It was an honor and I was extremely excited to get in
and play," Robertson said. "My teammates were good at helping me keep my head on
straight. We got done what we needed to do and it was a lot of fun."
Saturday morning, the team came out with more dominant
play against Eastern Kentucky winning the sets 25-10, 25-8, and 25-19. Junior Micha
Hancock tallied 39 assists and passed the 200 career ace mark.
Joining Slay and Scott with the most kills for the
match was Deja McClendon. All three players made it into the double digits. In
order to be able to perform at this level during competition, Slay stressed how
their preparation helps them take on their opponents, especially with Big Ten
play coming up next on their schedule.
"It starts with the mindset," Slay said. "You have to
come into practice everyday and work hard. During practice, we focus on the
teams that we are going to play and then transfer that over to the weekend. The
coaches do a good job watching a lot of film and then they come up with a
really good game plan."
Later on Saturday, the Nittany Lions took on Yale in
their final match of the Penn State Classic tournament, capturing the title
after winning three straight sets. The players closed out the weekend
continuing to dominate the court with Scott reaching a team-high of 13 kills.
Gonzalez made a strong defensive showing after making 16 digs over the three
sets and 44 digs after all three matches.
Yale proved to be the most competitive team for Penn
State during the tournament, finishing the first set 25-16 and the second set
25-17. However, in the third set, the Nittany Lions held Yale to only six
points. Gonzalez, Slay, and McClendon earned All-Tournament team after the
"I thought we played a really good third game," Rose
said. "I thought we played pretty well at times in the first and second games,
but we also had some stretches where we gave up four to five points in a row.
Yale's not an overpowering physical team. They know how to play and they're not
going to worry about the fact people jump over top of them."
With all of the non-conference matches behind them,
the players know they have to focus on closing out the games and stopping the
other teams from narrowing their lead.
"I thought we did a pretty good job our first two
games to keep it short and put it away," McClendon said. "I feel like that's
what we're supposed to do. One of the games we had 24 points and we didn't put
it away, When we start playing more competitive teams, we need to just put it
Looking ahead to the rest of the season and what's to
come, Rose notes how strong the depth of Big Ten volleyball has become and the
difference in this tournament compared to playing teams in their conference.
"The next 10 weeks we are going to play two matches a
week in a conference where we're playing against people our size so it's a
whole different situation," Rose said. "It's nice to have played better in the
last game tonight."
With eight Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25 and one
team that fell out of the rankings last week, the Nittany Lions are in for a
highly competitive season. Through teamwork and the experience of the
upperclassmen, Rose knows it's up to the players to keep each other
"That's a pretty full schedule - that's 18 of our 20
matches," Rose said. "What concerns me is how we're going to handle that. We
have some players that have a lot experience - some have won Big Ten
championships and some have won national championships so we'll see if they do
the things they have to do to become a better team. There's a fire that exists
that makes the team better than the individuals that are playing. That's the
component they have to work on themselves."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team held its
first open practice on Wednesday to allow the student body to see first hand
what goes into creating one of the top programs in the country.
The practice was open to all students to watch with the chance to meet and
interact with the players afterwards through an autograph session. The students
had the opportunity to meet head coach Russ Rose and assistant coach Steve Aird,
who took the time to explain some of the drills that the team was doing during
the practice. Announcer Steve Jones also made an appearance, thanking the
students for their support and coming out to watch the players.
This season marks the first time the student section has been named.
Playing off of the name Rec Hall where the Nittany Lions compete at home, the
student section chose the name "The wRECking Crew" after a suggestion from a
"I thought that was clever," Ariel Scott said. "A lot of other Big Ten
schools have creative names for their student section, but this is the first
time that we have chosen a name. I think it's awesome."
President of the official student section, Sam Webb helped organize the
event and encourages more people to get involved with the organization to get
to know the players on a more personalized level.
"We went to assistant coach Steve Aird and outlined our goals for what we
wanted to do and he said the first thing he wanted to do was make this an
official organization," Webb said. "I'm hoping we get even more people, but I'm
also expecting that the people who come out are going to see how amazing the
girls after they meet them face-to-face. Hopefully we'll get even more students
who want to join for the same reason."
Take a look at what took place during the open practice in Rec Hall with
The wRECking crew and the women's volleyball team.
By Samantha DelRosso,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After sweeping every set this past weekend, the No. 1-ranked
Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns home for three matches at the Penn
State Classic beginning Friday.
The Lions (5-1) will have the opportunity to play on their home court for the
first time this month against the Albany, Eastern Kentucky, and Yale.
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Courtney had 28 kills last weekend and said that
she is looking forward to playing at home after being away for the past few
"Now we get to experience our own crowd. It's not a crowd that's cheering
against us anymore; it's a crowd cheering with us. It's always a good feeling
to come back and play at home," Courtney said.
The team will kick off the weekend against the Albany (0-9) at 7 p.m. on Friday
in Rec Hall. Albany freshman middle
blocker Amanda Dolan was awarded All-Tournament Team at the Carolina Classic this
past weekend. The Nittany Lions head
into this weekend's matches with an emphasis on strong defensive play at the
"Being able to block and score points with it is something that, as a team,
makes you that much better than everyone else. We are a very good blocking team
because we are disciplined in our blocking," Courtney said. "[Blocking] gives
us a lot of opportunities to control the game."
On Saturday, the Nittany Lions will have a doubleheader against Eastern
Kentucky (4-6) at 10 a.m. and Yale (4-2) at 8 p.m.
With a home football game slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Beaver Stadium,
the Lions are eager to see the fan support in Rec Hall.
"It's a really great experience to have football play then us play or vice
versa because you just really see how much Penn State fans care about Penn
State," Courtney said. "A lot of our games get pushed back because we want the
people from the football games to come over to the volleyball games. It shows
how much dedication and support that the Penn State community has for everyone
in every sport."
Eastern Kentucky is currently on a six-match losing streak. Yale made the NCAA Tournament last season,
and Courtney said that the match against the Bulldogs will be challenging.
Courtney added that the team will be working to get better as a group this
"I think collectively we played well this past weekend in Florida, but the
weekend before that, I wouldn't say it was our best team effort in Texas. We
need to play as a team and try to be more consistent," she said.
This is the second weekend in a row that the Penn State will play three matches
in one weekend.
"Playing three games in a weekend is a lot on your body but we prepare for it
enough that it's just like second nature to us," Courtney said.
Catch the Nittany Lions on Big Ten Network this Friday at 7 p.m. for their
match against Albany.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame first came to Penn State to
play volleyball, she expected to make an immediate impact for the Nittany Lions
and gain competitive experience. However, that didn't turn out to be the case
when the freshman learned she would be redshirting her first year.
"Last year was
supposed to be my first year and I unexpectedly, a week before the season, (had
a lower leg injury)," Prieto Cerame said. "That was supposed to take four to
six weeks but took 10 months so that was really tough to get through. I had a
lot of support from my teammates, staff members, and the school to help."
Cerame experienced disappointment having to sit out all of last year, she also
saw it as a positive time where she could adjust to college volleyball at a
different pace than other freshman. This extra time took away from the
overwhelming feeling first year student-athletes often have to overcome.
"It was a learning
experience for sure and it made me stronger and I think it gave me a lot of
experience and down time to see what the season is like," Prieto Cerame said.
"It gave me the chance to experience a lot of things that freshman experience
very crazy and fast, but for me I had a lot of time to process it all."
Taking 10 months
off in any sport is tough to get through and even more difficult to come out
sharp and ready to play, but Prieto Cerame relied on her faith and teammates to
get her through.
"My teammates have
accepted me," Prieto Cerame said. "It's been so easy to come in and I feel like
I have been doing this for a while. The energy in the gym and the welcome was
amazing so it's been a really easy flow."
Now that the injury
is behind her, the Puerto Rican native took away positives from the setback to
help her move forward with the rest of her career at Penn State.
"It really was a
blessing in disguise but at the same time it would have been nice to help out
the team last year," Prieto Cerame said. "Last year is done and I'm just
focusing on this year."
With five college
matches behind her, Prieto Cerame already made a huge impact for the Nittany
Lions and has proven her mindset of putting all of her obstacles behind her. In
her latest volleyball match, she made 18 kills against Texas helping to keep
the team in the match.
"In Texas, when she
hit that first ball in the girls face I was like 'This girl's on fire. We just
need to get her the ball,'" senior Deja McClendon said. "When we play, one girl
is going to be in the zone and we have to feed them the ball. I saw that in
Paulina during that match."
Knowing the adjustments
the redshirt freshmen have to make and the level of confidence needed to
represent a top 10 Penn State volleyball team, McClendon gave motivating advice
before their competitions.
"My advice to
everyone differs but for Paulina, I've told her that I want you to have fire
all the time to just go out there and kill it."
Prieto Cerame came
to Penn State as a member of the USA Youth National Team in 2011, placing ninth
in the World Championships. Her previous experience at the national level
allowed her to develop into an aggressive player the Nittany Lions need.
"I thought for a
young player she took some big swings against Texas," head coach Russ Rose
said. "She's a really good attacker, she's an aggressive attacker, a physical
kid, and I think that's the part of the game she enjoys the most. She's
competitive and I think she's a good teammate. I think she's going to have an
exceptional career here."
Now that one of the
toughest challenges of her career is over the redshirt freshman can focus on
what's to come for the rest of her time as a Nittany Lion and taking in the
atmosphere that Penn State fans show in Rec Hall.
"I've just been
grateful, been thanking God and thanking my teammates, our fans and our school.
We have a great support system that's helped me stay focused. I'm just looking
forward to competing and seeing what's next," Prieto Cerame said.
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 3 Penn State women's volleyball team (2-1)
defeated No. 5 Florida over the weekend, but fell to No. 2 Texas in five sets
at the Nike Big Four Classic. Now, Penn
State travels to Florida Gulf Coast for a trio of matches beginning on Friday.
Off to a 2-1 start, the Nittany Lions will look to build on their trip
to Austin where they swept a strong Florida squad and went toe-to-toe with the
host Longhorns before falling in five sets.
Senior outside hitter
Deja McClendon and the Nittany Lions had opportunities in Texas but fell just
short in the decisive fifth set. McClendon wants to improve this week as the Nittany Lions prepare
for the Florida Gulf Coast Classic.
"I need to be able to
put the ball away in a long match in a tough position, so I'm going to work on
that. And the smartest kill isn't always the hardest hit ball, so right now I'm
going to work on hitting trickier shots," McClendon said.
The Lions will face
Marquette, Central Arkansas, and Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla.
After a long weekend of
travel and quick turnaround, head coach Russ Rose said that the team will not have a lot
of time to address the challenges that were pointed out to them last weekend.
Penn State will play
Marquette on Friday at 2 p.m.
The Marquette Golden
Eagles are 2-2 and are coming off of a win against Texas Christian University
this past weekend.
Bailey and Lindsey Gosh had a combined 35 kills this weekend against TCU and
could pose that same threat against Penn State this weekend.
The Nittany Lions will
compete in a doubleheader on Saturday and will square off against Central
Arkansas at 10 a.m. and Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m.
Central Arkansas is 6-1
and sophomore outside hitter Heather Schnars was named the Southland
Conference's Offensive Player of the Week after leading the team with 45 kills
this past week.
"Marquette was a top 25
team last year and Central Arkansas won their conference so I would expect
those teams to be good at what they do," Coach Rose said. "I think the players
are aware that as regular season get close to heading to the conference season,
we're the top team on a lot of people's schedules and they're going to bring a
little extra incentive and motivation to play their best and we have to do the
In its most recent
match, Florida Gulf Coast fell to Florida State University in four sets,
setting its record at 1-6.
Jessica Barnes leads
the team in kills per game after reaching 16 kills against Florida A&M
earlier this month, so the Nittany Lions may want to keep an eye on her this
"I think the [the team]
needs to play tough teams and this weekend will be a really good challenge for
them," Coach Rose said.
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a successful weekend, the No. 1 Penn State Women's
Volleyball team is ready for a challenging trip to the Nike Big Four Classic.
The Nittany Lions
(2-0) will take on the No. 6 Texas Longhorns on Saturday at 2 p.m. and the No.
8 Florida Gators on Sunday at 11 a.m. in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns are
2-1 this season, while the Gators are 2-0.
Head Coach Russ
Rose said the reason he wanted to start this tournament and the reason the
other three schools agreed to participate was because they all value the
opportunity to play good teams.
He said the tournament
is important for everyone because each team has a chance to play two great
teams at early part in their season.
"It's a great
opportunity for the kids to see where they stack up right now," Rose said.
Penn State is 11-7
against Texas all-time. The Lions are
looking forward to meeting the defending national champions on their home
graduated one key player from the 2012 squad, Sha'Dare McNeal, but Rose said the
team has replaced her in the lineup and fields a deeply squad.
In preparation for
this weekend, the Nittany Lions are not going to focus on stopping one specific
player because the Longhorns have so many weapons and a great coaching staff.
"We have to do what
we can do and hopefully they have to spend some time preparing for what we can
do," Rose said.
hitter Katie Slay said the team would be focusing on being a "tight team" this
week in practice.
"[We will be working on] being a cohesive unit that way when we go on the road
this weekend were really confident in what we can do," said Slay.
She said the team watched the film from this weekend and saw the areas
where they need improvement, so they will be focusing on those things in
practice this week.
While there are goals set for the whole team this weekend, Slay has a
personal goal of her own.
"I want to make sure this weekend that I play my role and play it
really well," she said.
The Nittany Lions used three days of practice this week as they worked to
address the things that they need to get better at, and not worry about what
Texas does. Rose said that both teams have their own set of challenges set up
"Texas does some things that nobody else in the country can do. They've got
some fabulous athletes that hit the ball high and hard and if they have the
ability to do that for the whole match, then that's why the won the national
championship," said Rose.
Coach Rose said one of the goals for this weekend is to see how the team
handles playing on the road and how they handle things they cannot control.
Rose mentioned playing against the big crowd against Texas on Saturday is part
of the learning process for the team.
"Every year is a new team and every year is another opportunity for players to
improve in areas where they need to get better," Rose said.
Slay said it's important that before the team goes in to Big Ten play, that
they really test themselves, and this weekend definitely qualifies as that.
In the past three matchups against No. 9 Florida, the Nittany Lions are 1-2.
Penn State will keep an eye on Florida's freshman unsung hero, right-side
hitter Alex Holston. Holston set a new team record earlier in the season with
hitting .436 (20-3-39) in one match.
"I think part of being a team is when you know what you can expect from each
person and then everyone can just mesh on the court. I think I just want to
take care of what I need to take care of and make sure I'm a great teammate on
the floor," said Slay.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With dozens of relatives in the stands wearing
special t-shirts that read "Team McClendon" in red and blue lettering, the
names and numbers of the two sisters on the back, and the two team logos on the
sleeves, the final match of the Penn State Invitational against Louisville
wasn't any ordinary matchup for Deja McClendon as she competed against her
sister Maya for the first and possibly final time.
When Maya first heard the news from Louisville head coach Anne Kordes that she
would play against Penn State, her initial reaction was excitement. However,
she didn't realize the match would be only her second appearance as a collegiate
"I got an email the first time I found out I was going to be playing (Deja)
and I thought this was perfect," Maya said. "But I didn't know it would be so
soon. I thought to myself 'preseason is going to be fun". I mentioned it to my
sister one time and we didn't talk about it for the rest of the year. We always
put it off."
Although the sisters hardly talked about the match itself, Deja knew how hard
handling the pressure that comes with starting at the college level. She shared
what she had learned from her experiences over the past three years about handling
the challenges that come with preseason and how to adjust to life as a
"The night before we played each other, we went out to dinner, but we
didn't talk about volleyball at all," Deja said. "I did talk to her before
preseason started because I knew she was really nervous. I knew that was the
toughest part of starting as a freshman and getting into the volleyball world.
Preseason is the first step and that was tough for her."
The three-time All-American, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NCAA
Championship, and the senior who shattered the 1,000 career kills mark last
season, has taught her younger sister through her hard work ethic and
determination how to be a successful starting freshman for the Cardinals.
"During my whole recruiting process and through the first few weeks of
college, Deja's been nothing but a mentor for me," Maya said. "She told me all
the things to look out for, how to be a leader, how to step up in what areas.
How to really be a good teammate and how to be an actual player - the player I
can be. She doesn't even have to tell me. Just by viewing her, I can tell how
hard she works and I really aspire to be the kind of player she is."
Although inexperience on a college court could be noticeable on any
starting freshman, Maya made sure that the fans in Rec Hall wouldn't be able to
tell through her performance. She took the advice Deja gave her and came into
the match with the confidence needed to finish the night with eight kills.
"I told her to just go and compete," Deja said. "As a freshman, you can't
make any mistakes really that they haven't seen. You can only be a plus. If you
do something well, that's a bonus. I think that gave her a little confidence
and helped her not worry as much about things. She just went out there and
Not only was the match a unique opportunity for the sisters, but the timing
added even more to the event. The weekend marked Deja's last opening weekend as
a senior in Rec Hall while Maya made her first collegiate debut, allowing
several family members who have never seen the girls play watch a highly
competitive match between two teams in the top 20.
"It was definitely weird to see her across the net, but it wasn't just like
oh, that's my sister," Deja said. "It was more of the fact that she's playing
college ball. She's my kid sister, so it was a really weird adjustment to see
her so grown up. I was really proud because I thought she played extremely
well. She didn't play like a freshman. But, at the same time I was still in competition
mode and was thinking let's win."
After the competition was over, the sisters kissed at the net and took
advantage of having a small family reunion by going out to dinner afterwards.
When it was all said and done, both of the athletes were happy to have had the
chance to play against each other.
"It was exactly what I wanted," Maya said. "[Penn State] is like a second
home for me and I love the atmosphere of the whole town. It was an honor for me
because not only is Deja a great player, she's a role model to so many other
people in the nation. She's so motivating to go up against, but not many people
can say, 'Yeah, I blocked my sister. I blocked this All-American. I'm a
freshman.' It's pretty awesome."
From the sidelines, head coach Russ Rose thought both girls showed a lot of
composure during the match and that the event turned out great for the girls to
have so many relatives there. However, when it came time to tell which McClendon
sister played better, he was at a loss for an answer.
"For this match only, who was the better McClendon? There's no better
McClendon - they're both great. If you ask her mom or grandma or grandpa, they
would say what I would say. You put those two kids together and see their
smile, you forget what the question even was," Rose said jokingly.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team (2-0) travels to Texas
this weekend for a pair of matches at the Nike Big Four Classic.
The Nittany Lions are
slated to meet sixth-ranked and defending national champion Texas on its home
floor Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET). Penn
State then meets No. 8 Florida at 11 a.m. (ET) on Sunday. GoPSUsports.com previewed the weekend with
assistant coach Steve Aird. Take a look.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off of a trip to the final four last season
and losing only two seniors, No. 2 women's volleyball team brought everything
they had to Rec Hall as they opened the 2013 season during the Penn State
Invitational in a three-match series.
The Nittany Lions started the weekend with an exhibition match against
Dabrowa, a polish professional team, winning 3-0
on Friday night. With the stands packed for opening night, the fans were eager
to cheer on the players and help them win their first set 28-26, after trailing
early. The second set was won 25-21 and the third set finished 25-20.
Penn State returned to Rec Hall on Saturday morning to officially open the
season with a non-conference match against Syracuse.
This contest marked the seventh matchup between the Nittany Lions and the
Orange. Penn State continued their undefeated record between the two teams winning
3-0. Despite playing back-to-back matches, the players didn't let fatigue stop
"It was a match that had all the trappings that we might not come out ready
to play, but I thought we played well," head coach Russ Rose said. "We
controlled the ball in most situations. I thought Aiyana (Whitney) played well
and I thought Katie (Slay) was exceptional yesterday and she played as I would
expect her to play again this morning,"
Whitney stepped up and made six kills to help the Nittany Lions as she
played for the first time coming off of a redshirt season in 2012. Joining
Whitney in making their first appearances in a collegiate match, Rose gave
freshmen Laura Broerman, Taylor Krause, and Carley Muller the opportunity to play.
"I'm sure it's really exciting for them. I'm sensitive to the fact that
they come to every practice and they're behind really good players," Rose said.
"Their hope is to become a really good player. We gave them a taste so they
feel a little bit better about it. Both Taylor and Laura came in and made digs
on balls that were hit to them. It's not charity - it's college athletics."
With the help from Slay and Maggie Harding, who both have three years of
experience behind them, the freshmen are making the transition into playing
college volleyball and learning how to handle the pressure of competing in
front of a large crowd.
"Katie really goes out of her way to work in that area. Her and Maggie take
a lot of pride in certain things. They're not asked to do those things, but
they do it because they know it's the right thing to do," Rose said.
At the same time Slay and Harding are seeing their preseason practices and
opening games for the last time as seniors, the freshmen are experiencing the
grueling practices and the true Rec Hall atmosphere for the first time. Both
Slay and Harding have been in the shoes of the freshmen and know what it takes
to help ease the adjustment.
"It's important to make them feel welcomed and that they know they have a
good security blanket in their teammates," Slay said. "Practice is tough during
preseason, but we let them know that they have us to lean on and a good support
system to help."
After defeating Syracuse, the Nittany Lions immediately shifted focus
towards a matchup against No. 19 Louisville on Saturday evening. With sisters
Deja and Maya McClendon facing off against each other, Penn State continued its
strong showing in the final match of the Penn State Invitational, winning
three-straight sets (25-15, 25-16, and 25-13).
"That was a good match against a very competitive opponent," Rose said. "It's
a good win against a competitive team that's at the top of their conference and
ranked in the top 20. They'll be able to beat people because of how hard they
play," Rose said.
Looking back over the weekend, Rose was pleased with the competitiveness the
Lions displayed against each team. They made adjustments to how they played the
game based on how the opposing team was serving.
"We really had to compete against the Polish team," Rose said. "(Against
Louisville) we had to play a different way to be successful. With the Polish
team, we could compete with them at the net. With Louisville, this was a match
where we needed to do really well in the back row. To out dig Louisville by 15
balls is a good performance for us."
Up next, the Lions will play in the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic where
the Nittany Lions will take on No. 1 Texas followed by No. 9 Florida in Austin,
"Next week we go play Texas at Texas," Rose said. "They don't lose often at
home, but we look forward to getting out there and doing the best we can."
By Sam DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The offseason is over, and the Penn State women's volleyball
team is ready to take on the 2013 season.
The No. 2-ranked Nittany Lions will kick off the 2013 season against Dabrowa, a
Polish professional team, in an exhibition match on Friday.
After traveling to Italy in May, senior Deja McClendon and the Nittany Lions
got a taste of international professional play this summer and said that it was a challenging
"I thought it was a lot of fun playing new competition where we had to play
smarter, but for me I think it's more about the season and playing as well as I
can instead of worrying about whatever else is out there," McClendon said.
The regular season kicks off with two home matches on Saturday against Syracuse
at 11 a.m. and No. 19 Louisville at 7 p.m.
"We'll be moving pieces around- even though it might be some of the same
players, they will be playing different positions," head coach Russ Rose said
regarding this season's lineup at Fall Sports Media Day earlier this week.
McClendon told the media that the Nittany Lions worked throughout preseason on
the importance of staying focused for the duration of matches.
"We have been playing with each other a little bit longer and we're more
familiar with each other, but we need to work on pushing each other a little
harder and push each other to do well the whole game," said McClendon.
It will be a big weekend for the McClendon family, with sisters Deja and Maya
playing against each other on Saturday. Maya is a freshman outside hitter for
the Louisville Cardinals.
"It will be her first collegiate match and I'm kind of nervous for her, but I
think my grandparents are going to have the toughest time not knowing who to
cheer for or cry for," McClendon said.
As the Nittany Lions prep for the opener, Coach Rose said that he is going to be
looking for good energy, focus and the best combination of players on the floor.
"The goal of this season is to a have a good team that progresses and is
playing its best as you head into November and into the postseason," Rose said.
"Our goal is to get better and not to have our best game just being the opening