Recently in Women's Volleyball Category
SEATTLE - The second-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team
traveled to Seattle on Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's NCAA semifinal
match against Washington.
Penn State departed the University Park Airport at noon. The Nittany Lions arrived shortly after 2
p.m. PT before practicing at the University of Washington's Alaska Airlines
Arena on Tuesday night. Take a behind
the scenes look at the travel day to the NCAA semifinals.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions women's volleyball program is
no stranger to postseason battles among heavyweights in the sport.
Penn State added another chapter to its storied legacy of NCAA Tournament
success with a dramatic fifth-set rally to knock off Stanford for a spot in the
With the match tied at 2-2 after Stanford claimed the fourth set, Penn State
built a 4-2 lead on a solo block from Megan Courtney in the fifth. However, Stanford was not done.
The Cardinal scored five-straight points to go on top by a 7-4 margin. Stanford led, 9-6, when head coach Russ Rose
used a timeout. Out of the break, the
Nittany Lions were not going to be denied.
Senior Deja McClendon pulled the Lions to within two (9-7) with a kill. McClendon's big play kick-started a 6-0
scoring spurt that put the Nittany Lions on top by a count of 12-9. Stanford got as close as 12-10, but Courtney
finished off a superb 9-2 rally to punch Penn State's ticket to Seattle for
next week's NCAA national semifinals.
"I thought it was a great match of two teams
that have great respect for each other," Rose said. "They are a terrific opponent."
Like they have done so many times under Rose, the Lions made big play after big
play with their season on the line. Additionally,
Rose is a master at keeping a team loose when it is down in a tight
situation. Following the timeout when
the Lions trailed 9-6, Penn State looked like a team feeling no pressure.
The senior leaders - McClendon, Ariel Scott and Katie Slay - were outstanding
for the Nittany Lions on Saturday. Named
the MVP of the Lexington Regional, McClendon finished with 21 kills, 16 digs
and four blocks. Scott tallied a
match-high 22 kills. Slay notched nine
kills on .438 hitting and finished with 10 blocks. She also had two kills and three blocks
during the 9-2 run in the fifth frame.
"I thought tonight, our seniors really carried the day," said Rose. "I thought Katie Slay, AScott and Deja were exceptional at the things they needed to do to enable the team to be successful. It was a team effort."
When Penn State needed them, the seniors stepped up and were not going to let
the season end.
"I thought we would come back in the fifth game,"
said Rose. "I was disappointed how we
gave so many points away in the fourth and fifth game, but Stanford can do
that. Stanford is very talented. It's hard to explain how good some of their
The Nittany Lions move into the NCAA semifinals for the second-straight season
and sixth time in the last seven years.
Penn State will play at either 7:30 or 9:30 p.m. ET on Thursday inside
Key Arena in Seattle.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind 15 kills from Ariel Scott and strong play in the
back row, the second-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team rallied from
1-0 down to roll past Michigan State, 3-1, for a spot in the NCAA regional
finals on Friday night inside Memorial Coliseum.
Penn State stormed out of the gate for a 5-1 lead in set one, but Michigan
State answered with a 6-2 scoring spurt to square the set at 7-7. Michigan State went on to a 25-22 set victory
while limiting the Nittany Lions to just .179 hitting.
The Spartans opened the second set with a 4-1 edge, but the match turned on a
Micha Hancock kill. Hancock's kill
kick-started a 6-1 scoring run, which put the Lions up, 7-5, and Penn State
never looked back in a dominant second set.
The Nittany Lions attacked at a .368 clip en route to a 25-17 set
victory, but it was the play in the back row from Lacey Fuller, Dominique
Gonzalez, Megan Courtney and Deja McClendon that paved the way in the second
"Every time I come in I just want to give the team energy, and kind of be as confident as I can," Fuller said. "Sometimes I can tell that they are a little nervous because it's a big game. A lot of pressure I guess. I try to just be energetic and help them the best I can."
The story was much of the same in the third frame, as Penn State used a quick
start to roll to another 25-17 set victory and a 2-1 lead in the match. The fourth set was tight throughout, but
senior Ariel Scott was too much for Michigan State, and the Nittany Lions held
off a Spartan rally to clinch the match and a spot in the NCAA round of eight
with a 25-23 victory.
"I thought they (Michigan State) played
really hard, and forced us to challenge ourselves in a lot of areas we need a
little work in," head coach Russ Rose said. "I'm pleased we were able to win the match, and would hope that
we can get better effort from some individuals tomorrow."
Scott, who reached 15 kills for the seventh time this season, attacked at a
.351 clip. The New Jersey native put
Penn State up by two tallies on three different occasions in the latter half of
the fourth set, and she had five of her 15 kills in the fourth set, alone. McClendon added 14 kills, while Courtney
The back row play was superb for the Nittany Lions, especially in sets two and
three. Gonzalez finished with 16 digs
and Courtney had 14. Fuller and
McClendon provided a big spark for the Lions.
The duo combined for 18 digs on the night, including several clutch
plays in sets two and three.
"I thought Lacey
(Fuller) came in and made some great defensive plays that really gave us a
spark and gave us some confidence," Rose said.
The Nittany Lions did not play their best volleyball on
Friday night, but they made big plays when they needed to. The senior trio of McClendon, Slay and Scott
stepped up when the match was on the line, as did Fuller, Gonzalez, Courtney and
the back row.
Penn State moves into the NCAA regional final for the second-straight season
and seventh time in the last eight years.
Tune in Saturday at 4 p.m. (TV-ESPNU) for the NCAA regional final from
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second-seeded and Big Ten champion Nittany Lion
women's volleyball team (30-2) travels to Lexington, Ky., for a showdown with Michigan
State (23-11) in the NCAA regional semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m. (Live
coverage on ESPN3).
The winner of the Penn State-Michigan State match will move on to face either No.
7 Stanford (26-5) or No. 10 Minnesota (29-6) on Saturday in the regional final
at 4 p.m. live on ESPNU. The Nittany
Lions split with the Spartans during the regular season, winning at East
Lansing, but dropping the conference opener at Rec Hall. Penn State's 3-1 setback to Michigan State
was its lone loss during conference play.
The Lions swept Minnesota in 2013, winning 3-2 in Happy Valley and 3-0
Penn State enters the weekend after sweeping LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec
Hall in the opening two rounds of the tournament. The Lions have won 33 of their last 36
sets. Penn State enters the weekend
attacking at a .314 clip, led by All-Big Ten outside hitters Ariel Scott (3.18
kills/set) and Deja McClendon (2.92 kills/set).
Since the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament began its current 64-team setup,
the Nittany Lions have advanced to the third round of the tournament all 15
years. Penn State has played in the
Regional Final match in 12 of the 15 seasons.
The Big Ten Conference has been tremendous throughout the 2013 season. Having seven teams remaining in the draw
during the second weekend of the tournament speaks volumes about the depth of
the Big Ten. In addition to Penn State, Michigan
State and Minnesota in the Lexington Regional, Nebraska plays American in the
Lincoln Regional and Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin are all still alive in the Champaign
The NCAA field has been trimmed to 16 teams.
Penn State's quest for a return to the national semifinals goes through
Memorial Coliseum this weekend. First up
is a clash with Michigan State on Friday.
VIDEO: NCAA Regionals Preview
Regional Semifinals Statistical
Feature Story Corner
From the eyes of head coach Russ Rose
Lions to Face Michigan State in Regionals
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team defeated
two teams last weekend that they hadn't seen this season. This weekend,
however, will be very different. The Nittany Lions will face a very familiar foe
in the NCAA regional semifinals on Friday.
No. 2 Penn State (30-2) will play Michigan State (23-11) for the third
time this season on Friday. Minnesota, another Big Ten squad, is also still
alive in Penn State's quarter of the bracket. This means that there is a
possibility that the Nittany Lions will face the Golden Gophers on Saturday.
Having already played these teams this season helps in match preparation, head
coach Russ Rose says.
"[Seeing these teams again] removes the communicating with other schools
trying to find information on [teams]," Rose said. "We played [Michigan State] a month ago. We are at least
familiar with them, as well as Minnesota."
The Big Ten has seven teams left in the tournament, which is the most of
any conference (PAC-12 has four). Rose said the strength of the Big Ten comes
from its challenging schedule.
"These schools are a lot tougher having played back to back nights
against good teams on the road, on football weekends, and tough travel
conditions. I'm a big believer that the conference makes us all stronger.
Everybody [in the Big Ten] cares," Rose said.
Rose said without even factoring in the fact that Michigan State beat
Penn State at home earlier in the season, Michigan State proved its talent
after beating Kentucky at Kentucky in the second round of the tournament. He
said the Spartans are a good team because of how they are put together. The
team plays hard and they are coached very well.
"They had some great wins this year and one of those was beating us when
we were No. 1 in the country. I shouldn't have to say much to our players about
the strengths and merits of playing Michigan State," Rose said. "The record
this year is 1-1, so this match gives [the teams] the opportunity to play
another match. And Deja needs to upgrade her winning record in the state of
Although the Nittany Lions have seen the Spartans play before, they know
it will be a challenge facing off against the talented players on the Michigan
Senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski has tallied 400 kills this season.
Rose said she is a "terrific offensive player." Senior middle blocker Alexis
Mathews has 139 blocks this season and touches close to 11 feet. Rose said that when Mathews is "on", it
causes the team a lot of problems.
"In the first match [against Michigan State], [Chloe] Reinig was very
good. In the second match, [Allyssah] Fitterer was somebody that we didn't have
an answer for, so I think they're all good," Rose said.
This year's tournament is the last shot for the seniors. Rose said that
the seniors have a lot invested in this program, even those who haven't played
"Maddie Martin has won some matches for us during her career when she
was healthy and we need her. Erica Denney is a really good volleyball player
with a great mind who has run into some physical challenges. And Maggie
Harding, nobody cares more about what we've got going on," Rose said.
It's an win or go home postseason event, and Rose knows it will be a challenge
against a familiar Big Ten foe.
"It's how you play, not who you play. When you get to a Regional, all of
the teams are hungry, all of the teams are putting behind that they're tired or
that they're sore, or that they have academic woes to worry about," Rose said.
"Everybody is fired up about the possibility of competing for a National
The Nittany Lions will face the Michigan State Spartans at 5 pm on
Friday in Lexington, Ky. (ESPN3).
From the eyes of the players
Nittany Lions Motivated to
Compete in NCAA Regional Semifinals
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's volleyball team advanced to
the NCAA regional semifinals in Kentucky, the players are bringing more
motivation than ever to close out a strong season in the quest to bring home a
Sophomore Megan Courtney played in the tournament last year and was on
the court when the team faced a loss in the national semifinals. Having that
experience behind her has helped the outside hitter prepare for what the rest
of this tournament will bring.
Falling short of their goals last year left a feeling that they have not
been able to forget. Instead, the players have used that as their strongest
motivator as they continue to advance in the tournament.
"Last year I was happy to be in the final four and play for Penn State,
but losing in the final four and losing with the teammates that I've been with
the entire time is a feeling I never want to feel again," Courtney said.
Learning from last year's championship season, Courtney and her
teammates are determined to continue battling through the tournament to a
different feeling this time around with her teammates - a feeling of success.
"We also have teammates - like Deja (McClendon) and Katie (Slay) who
have experienced the winning and also the losing so they know what it takes and
what we have to do to get to that point and not have that feeling again,"
Courtney said. "That's basically what's driving me because that feeling is the
worst feeling in the world and they know what it's like when that feeling is
the best feeling in the world."
In order to reach that "best feeling in the world", the Nittany Lions
know that they will all have to work together as one team. They will have to
put each player into the position where they can play their best and help each
other to make the best plays, instead of relying on just one player.
"The really good thing about our program is that one player doesn't have
to carry the weight of the team all the time," Courtney said. "If Deja's having
a great day defensively, then it's my job to have a great day offensively -
it's like a give and take. If Slay is blocking well, we have to put Slay in a
position where she can do what she's good at."
After their win against Utah in the second round of the NCAA Tournament,
the players saw exactly what makes the team work together. They will use that
match to help build their confidence as they continue to advance.
"Especially for Megan who played really well in that match, I think it's
good for our younger players to be confident going into the next match,"
McClendon said. "I think for the seniors it's good to know that we can be
consistent because that's our job as older players."
For the six seniors, this tournament is their final chance to prove they
have the high level of confidence to play at their best, the consistency
between the players needed to advance, and the determination to get the job
done with this group of girls.
"There's definitely an urgency because it's our last chance," Slay said.
"This is the seniors' last chance to play with a lot of the younger girls on
our team so there's definitely an urgency because I want us to do well. I know
we can do well if we play together. It's really exciting in that regard because
the possibility for greatness is there."
As the Nittany Lions are on the road for the first time during the
national tournament, they will play Michigan State for the third time this
season. Since the players have already matched up against them during Big Ten
play, they know that the Spartans have made some adjustments, but they also
know of a few things to look out for.
"They're still a little bit different and changed a few things," McClendon
said. "But it does help knowing how we played against them in the past and what
matchups their going to go to as well as their go to player - we know her
In their last meeting against Michigan State, the Lions won, 3-0 (25-14, 25-18,
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By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team played
its final home match of the season against Utah on Saturday, and the Nittany
Lions knocked off Utah in a 3-0 sweep to advance to the NCAA regional
Sophomore Megan Courtney said she had a 'gut feeling' that the team would play
well together against Utah. She called the match Penn State's 'statement game'.
"You could see it in all my teammates' eyes. We had to show anyone
who's watching what we're made of," Courtney said. "We didn't really make a
statement game [against LIU] and I think today we all knew this had to be our
Courtney led the team to victory with her offensive efforts, tallying
17 kills on .556 hitting. She recorded four kills in the first set and five
kills in the second. In the final frame, Courtney tallied eight kills.
"When [Courtney] plays well, she can score points in a number of ways,"
head coach Russ Rose said. "I think she's one of our better blockers and
tonight she was the match's best offensive player. And I thought she passed
The Nittany Lions logged 21 more digs than Utah. Utah middle hitter
Erin Redd-Brandon said it was frustrating to take her biggest swings and have
the Penn State defense dig the balls up.
"Everyone understands how good [Penn State] is at the net, but what they are
very, very good at is their floor defense," Utah head coach Beth Launiere said.
Utah middle hitter Bailey Bateman attributed the fact that the team had
trouble reading where the set was going to go to Penn State's good
passing. She said when there's a perfect
pass, there are three or four hitters coming at the other team at once. If the
pass isn't perfect, the team is a little bit out of system and the setter is
down to two hitters or one, which makes it easier to read where its going.
"And [Hancock] is a great setter. She knows what she's doing, so it
gets a little difficult to read," Bateman said.
The No. 2-ranked Nittany Lions had an early lead in the first set,
leading the Utes 5-1 and forcing a Utah timeout, and later led Utah 13-4. In
the first frame, senior Katie Slay hit at a .750 hitting percentage and senior
Deja McClendon tallied 6 kills on .455 hitting.
"It's always good to have a nice little lead, it gives you a little bit
of comfort," junior libero Dominique Gonzalez said. "But you can't relax because
you know these teams play really good teams all season long and they're capable
of coming back."
In the second frame, Penn State was off to another good start with a
five-point lead before Utah called a timeout. The timeout sparked a small
offensive run for the Utes, but Penn State came back with a 6 point run, making
the score 14-5. The Nittany Lion offense continued to dominate through the end
of the set with a final score of 25-15.
Penn State came out strong again in the third set, giving the Nittany
Lions a four-point lead in the beginning of the frame. Utah came within two
points of Penn State at 5-3, but kills from Courtney and Scott and an ace from
senior Maddie Martin advanced the score to 12-6. Utah continued to fight at
17-10, but the Nittany Lions could not be stopped. The final four points of the
set were kills by Courtney. The final score was 25-11.
This was the final match in Rec Hall for the Penn State seniors. McClendon
finished with nine kills and a match-high 16 digs. Senior Ariel Scott tallied
eight kills and senior Katie Slay led the team in blocking with five blocks.
Penn State will play Michigan State on Friday in Lexington, Ky., in the
NCAA regional semifinals.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since 1981, Penn State has had the opportunity to
host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament inside Rec Hall 27 times. The Nittany
Lions have welcomed tournament teams for 23 consecutive years taking away the
stress of traveling to start the postseason.
"I'm always grateful Penn State puts in a bid so that we have a chance to
host. I'm appreciative of the fans that come and I'm appreciative of the band
that plays," head coach Russ Rose said.
Not only does hosting give the Nittany Lions home court advantage, but it
also give the seniors one more opportunity to play on the court they have grown
to love over the past four years.
"I told the seniors I thought today's match was their senior night," Rose
said. "I was really pleased with how those guys stepped up and played well.
Deja (McClendon) finished off her last match in Rec Hall in a real positive
The outside hitter had a strong night against Utah where she led the team
with 16 digs and registered the teams' second highest number of kills with
9. However, coming into the lineup four
years ago, McClendon didn't have much experience in the back row.
"It's great for Deja to lead the match in digs," Rose said. "I think it's
the evolution of her game that she's a much more complete player and was
willing to commit to the things she needed to do to get better."
After going through countless practices and matches in Rec Hall since her
freshman year, McClendon was able to end her last match there on a high note
before heading to her home state of Kentucky for the regional semifinals.
"It's a great feeling," McClendon said. "It's sad though and just unreal.
I'm glad I had these guys to share it with."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The wait for the NCAA tournament to begin is finally
over as the women's volleyball team opened up the first round defeating
LIU-Brooklyn in front of a home crowd and a packed student section in Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions won in three straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-14). Junior
Micha Hancock started the night off with a service ace. She finished the night
with four aces and 32 of the teams' 38 assists.
In the second set, junior Nia Grant played a huge role in blocking where
she made two block assists. After the third set, Grant led the Nittany Lions in
blocks for the night with one solo block and six block assists. Senior Katie
Slay was right behind her as she registered one solo block and five block
assists, in addition to adding eight kills to the offense.
At the end of the third set, Penn State led LIU-Brooklyn 24-14 when senior
Maggie Harding scored the match point and ended the set with a service ace. The
fans in Rec Hall erupted as the Nittany Lions advance to the second round of
the NCAA tournament.
"I thought it was a match where Long Island played really hard and they do
the things that they do well," head coach Russ Rose said. "I thought Katie
(Slay) did a nice job hitting and blocking and I thought Micha (Hancock) was
serving well tonight. I was really happy Maggie could come in as a senior and
score an ace in the NCAA match. That was one thing I enjoyed this evening."
Earlier in the evening, Utah defeated Yale with a four-match win (27-29,
25-15, 26-24, 25-16). With the win, Utah advances to
play the Nittany Lions in the second round. One thing Penn State will have to
look out for is their blocking. Against Yale, they registered 12 blocks as a
"They're a good blocking team," Rose said. "I thought they blocked really
well and Yale really competed. They're coming from the conference that have the
most number of teams in the NCAA tournament so they're going to be a tough
opponent for us."
Follow the Nittany Lions as they continue their journey through the NCAA
tournament where they will take on Utah at 7:30 on Saturday night in Rec Hall.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
For the 24th consecutive season, Penn State will host the first and second
rounds of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament. The 2013 Big Ten champion Nittany Lions (28-2)
open the tournament against LIU Brooklyn (23-7) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Rec
The winner of the Penn State-LIU Brooklyn match will move on to face either Yale
(20-4) or Utah (20-12) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
For the Nittany Lions, they enter the tournament red-hot on a 19-match winning
streak. Penn State's two losses both
came in five sets (at No. 1 Texas on Sept. 7 and vs. Michigan State on Sept.
27). The Lions tallied a 14-1 mark
inside Rec Hall in 2013.
In all, Penn State enters its first round match of the NCAA Tournament having
won 28 of its last 31 sets. Led by a
trio of seniors, the Nittany Lions claimed seven postseason Big Ten awards
earlier this week. Individually, junior Micha Hancock was tabbed as the Big Ten
Setter of the Year and Russ Rose earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. Seniors Ariel Scott, Deja McClendon and Katie
Slay, along with Hancock were named to the All-Big Ten team.
The Nittany Lions are one of eight Big Ten teams in the 2013 NCAA
Tournament. Nebraska is the No. 8 seed,
Minnesota is the No. 10 seed, Wisconsin is the No. 12 seed and Illinois is the
No. 13 seed. Michigan, Michigan State
and Purdue are the remaining Big Ten teams in the draw. Minnesota, Michigan State and Penn State are
all in same quarter of the draw (Lexington Regional).
Now, it is win or go home for all 64 teams on the bracket. The 2013 NCAA Tournament
begins on Friday inside Rec Hall.
VIDEO: NCAA Tournament Player Preview
First Round Statistical Rundown
Feature Story Corner
From the eyes of Coach
Taking One Match At a Time
Story By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After a successful week traveling to Ohio State and Nebraska, the Nittany Lions
closed out their final matches of the regular season on a high note, giving
them the confidence they need to enter the NCAA tournament.
The Nittany Lions have put in over five months of dedication and hard work
while keeping in mind their ultimate goal - to win a national championship.
With the tournament starting at Rec Hall this weekend, it's their chance to
capitalize on that goal. However, the players have to remember that they can
only focus on one match at a time.
"Now the brackets have been announced for the NCAA tournament and it's time to
shift gears like the other 63 teams in the country and prepare for the
tournament," head coach Russ Rose said. "You have to play well to advance and
you have to play one opponent at a time. You can't start looking at future
opponents, we have to focus on the team you have in front of you."
After winning 19-straight matches, it's clear that the players know how to work
together as a team. Coach Rose stressed that it's more important to play good
volleyball than it is the number of matches the team has won in a row.
Coming off the Nebraska match and knowing the
stress of travel, Rose was excited to see that distractions were not an issue
for the Nittany Lions while competing on the road.
"The Nebraska match was a really good match because it was two really evenly
matched teams playing in a partisan crowd, but it wasn't a partisan crowd for
us. It was good because we were able to handle the additional distractions.
Knowing that we have one weekend at home and if you're fortunate enough to
advance, then you're playing on the road. We have to be able to have success in
certain environments," Rose said.
Knowing that they could handle the atmosphere on the road at Nebraska will help
the players as they advance through any challenges the tournament may present.
"That gives the players a little more confidence that they can handle tough
situations," Rose said. "You're always going to have tough situations with the
NCAA. It's never going to be an easy situation where you go out there and
overpower people. Everyone has challenges and we're not going to be immune to
The players, especially the senior class, which helped capture the 2010
national title, have learned from these challenges throughout their career.
They know what is expected of them and how to help guide those who have not
been through the process.
"The expectations are really high here," Rose said. "They know that while
they're here - you play the preseason to get yourself ready for conference play
and then conference play prepares you for NCAA tournament. NCAA's are a sprint.
The persons and team that win the tournament will have won six matches. That's
what our focus is."
Entering the tournament, Penn State is ranked no. 2 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
However, Rose does not take that for granted.
"I don't look at it as we're ahead of anyone," Rose said. "Texas and us have a
long streak and Missouri has a 30 match winning streak. We need to worry about
the opponent on the other side of the net and focus on them and not look
Heading into the first round of the tournament where the Nittany Lions, the
players will rely on their preparation from throughout the year and won't make
many changes to their practice regime.
"We'll get the NCAA balls we'll have to play with and I know the players will
have to focus on academics so we won't go really long. We'll focus on some
things today and try and fix some of the team things that Nebraska exposed we
weren't really good at," Rose said.
The team is eager for what is ahead.
"We've played Long Island before and I expect their team to be really
competitive. The other half of the bracket is Yale, who we played earlier in
the year and Utah, who came from the conference who has provided the most teams
in the NCAA this year."
With preseason and conference play behind them, the Nittany Lions will take
what they have learned this season and put it to the test throughout the
competition during the tournament while taking advantage of being on their home
From the eyes of the players:
Nittany Lions Kick Off Postseason This Weekend
Story By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Pa. - November quickly came and went, as did the Penn State women's volleyball
regular season. The Nittany Lions will begin the NCAA Tournament this weekend
on their home court against Long Island-Brooklyn on Friday.
LIU won the Northeast Conference this year with a 23-7 record. Long Island
outside hitter Annika Foit has tallied 369 kills this season, while Penn
State's leading attacker, senior outside hitter Deja McClendon, has tallied
The LIU program is familiar with the atmosphere in Rec Hall. This will be the
fourth time that the Blackbirds have played at Penn State in the NCAA Tournament.
They were defeated by Penn State in 2005, 2006, and 2008.
Although LIU is not ranked in the top 25, the Nittany Lions are not overlooking
their opponent's talent.
"One of the most important things is that coach always comes into the game
thinking that this is going to be the toughest game we play," McClendon said.
"He makes us think that so when we get out there, we don't underestimate
anybody that we play. It keeps us on top of our stuff."
The match on Friday night puts a lot of pressure on junior setter Micha Hancock
because this postseason is the last shot for the senior class, but it's a "fun,
anxious pressure," she said.
"I know that we're a talented group and I know that if we play well, we're
going to be hard to stop. So it's just up to us. We have to put it out there on
the court," Hancock said.
This senior class has three years of experience in the NCAA Tournament,
including being part of a national championship team in 2010. Having experience
can be to the team's advantage because the players know what to expect out of
the tournament. Senior middle hitter Katie Slay said this year's postseason
feels different for these seniors, however, because they are the ones setting
"Our freshman year, when we were the young ones, there were older people on the
team with lots of experience, and we were able to relax and do whatever they
did and just follow their lead," Slay said.
"Now that we're the experienced players, it's our job to set the tone
for the team and keep everyone relaxed. It's important that we put our
experience to work."
McClendon said playing tough matches this season, like the match against
Nebraska last weekend, has prepared them for the postseason because playing in
a gym with a large crowd against a good team is very similar to how the
tournament is. The Nebraska match taught the team a valuable lesson just in
time for the post season.
"[The Nebraska match] was important for us because we were down by a couple
points and we didn't give up. We could have easily just said, 'Okay, next
game.' But we grinded it out and we stuck in it, and we ended up tying the game
and then winning both of those third and fourth sets," Slay said. "That was a
really good learning experience for us."
The team is feeling confident heading into the postseason after playing a tough
Big Ten season, but the players know that they still have to work hard because
they will playing talented teams in the tournament.
"We haven't reached our peak yet, and that's the biggest thing for us because that
means we still have a way to go to get better. But at the same time, we've done
a lot better playing the group, team game," McClendon said. "At Nebraska, we
played our best team-volleyball, where not all of us played great, but at the
same time, we all stepped up at certain points in the match and then we won the
The No. 2-ranked Nittany Lions kick their postseason off against LIU on Friday
at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall.
"It's our last [NCAA Tournament]. We want to go out with a bang," senior Ariel
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
'Tis the season for giving thanks, and Penn State Athletics would like to
take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.
As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the
Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State
Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give
every team on campus. Penn State's teams
would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.
As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus
would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give
them throughout the athletic season.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the six seniors first came to Penn State and went through preseason
their freshman year, they never thought they would make it through four years.
However, with senior night here - the four years went by fast as it's a
bittersweet time for the players who started playing
the sport at such a young age.
With only four
regular season matches left in their collegiate careers, these seniors want to
end their senior year the way that they started their freshman year - with a
"It's a full
progression and evolution for them," head coach Russ Rose said. "All of those
guys have had a major impact on the program. Despite the fact I'm hard on them
all the time - soon they'll be done. We're graduating three people who have
started for four years. We haven't had that many kids who have started for four
years in the 35 years I've been here."
Take a closer look
at each of the senior's journey through their
collegiate career as a Nittany Lion and their
thoughts as their time comes to a close.
8 Erica Denney
Coming out of high
school as a member of an undefeated team (31-0) and traveling to the 2009 World
Championships as a member of the youth national team, Erica Denny faced an
injury and took a redshirt her freshman year. In her second year with the
Nittany Lions, she made her collegiate debut against Rutgers where she
registered a kill. During both her sophomore and junior years, she earned Academic
All-Big Ten and continued her junior year appearing in six matches and nine
sets. The Colorado native recorded her first start against DePaul in 2012.
15 Maggie Harding
Maggie Harding came
to Penn State from just a few miles away. As an active member of the Student
Athlete Advisory Board and captain for the season, Harding has proven to be one
of the strongest leaders on the team. At the NCAA Semi-finals Championship last year, she earned the Elite 89 Award after having
the top GPA of all of the student-athletes at
because it's a big time of the year and we have a lot coming up, but it's
bittersweet. I've been watching Penn State volleyball since I was five, so
knowing it's coming to an end is pretty tough. But knowing I was a part of it
and contributing what I can to the program is pretty cool."
All-Big Ten honors during her sophomore and junior year, Maddie Martin has
proven to be another strong leader in the senior class for the underclassmen to
follow. Making an immediate impact her freshman year, she played in 20 matches
and 29 sets. The outside hitter reached a career high hitting percentage at
Indiana in 2010 at .600. Her first two kills were against Villanova and she took
that momentum into a strong sophomore season where she played in 33 matches -
starting in 24 of them. During her junior season, she registered 51 kills, 14
aces, 71 digs and eight blocks. With only a few matches left, the Tampa, Fla.,
native cannot believe how fast the four years have gone by.
"It's weird - you
think during your freshman year while you're going through preseason that it's
never going to end. Looking back on it now - it went so fast. (Playing under Russ
Rose) is cool; he's such an amazing person and such an amazing coach. Knowing
we've played for a legend is just a great feeling."
The outside hitter
from Louisville, Ky., did not waste any time getting
adjusted to the college volleyball scene as she was named the 2010 AVCA
Division I National Freshman of the Year and started in all 37 matches. She was
also the only freshman to earn a spot on the 2010 AVCA All-American team.
McClendon continued to develop into the player she is today through her
sophomore year adding 2011 AVCA First Team All-America to the list of honors
and was the Unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten. During her junior year, she kept
her competitive edge going as she set a career high hitting percentage of .800
against Binghamton. She also hit a career high of 29 digs at Michigan proving to
be a versatile player. The outside hitter has made 247 kills and 239 digs this
season giving her an impressive total of 1,500 kills and a career total of
1,052 digs with four matches left before championship season.
"It doesn't feel
real - it's a sad moment but at the same time it's a good time to look back on
everything we've accomplished and where we want to end the season. There were
points where we were really low and points where we were really high and to see
us where we are now it's just crazy that we did
finish this together. That's probably one of the most important parts for me -
that we've been through thick and thin together."
1 Ariel Scott
Known as A. Scott
to the team, the outside hitter has developed into one of the key players for
the Nittany Lions. During her freshman year, she played in 20 matches gaining
experience early in her collegiate career. She went into her sophomore year and
was named AVCA Third Team All-America and Unanimous First Team All-Big Ten. The
New Jersey native was second on the team with 418 kills for the 2011 season.
Scott added even more honors to the list making AVCA First Team All-American
and Big Ten Player of the Year with her strong performances during her junior
year. She set a career high of 85 attacks against Stanford during that season.
Registering 244 kills so far this season, Scott totals 1,274 kills for her
"It's really crazy
seeing how far we've come. It's bittersweet because we made it, but it's kind
of sad too since it's our last home game. Freshman year going from preseason
not knowing if we're going to make it, being the hardest thing we've ever done
and then winning that year. For me I went from not playing to being on the
court so it was definitely a big development year for me."
16 Katie Slay
four years as a Nittany Lion, she has proven to be one of the most consistent
and dependable players for the team. Her freshman year, she started in 11
matches and played in 23 where she totaled 54 kills and a hitting percentage of
.404. Her sophomore year, she did not hold anything back as she was named AVCA
Second Team All-America and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She also hit
career highs with 16 kills against Wisconsin in 2011. During her junior year,
the Raleigh, N.C. native continued to put up impressive defensive performances.
She made a career high of 12 blocks against Michigan. This season, she has
added 19 solo blocks and 132 block assists to her career totals giving her 74
solo blocks and 497 block assists and a total of 571 blocks throughout her
"It's exciting - senior year I've just been trying to soak it all in.
Freshman year we just did whatever the upperclassmen did. I remember playing in
the national championship match and it didn't feel like a huge deal - I didn't
feel stressed out because the upperclassmen were dancing in the locker room and
doing whatever we usually did before any other match. As we've gotten older, we
had to set the bar for the team. We're the one's who have to put out a