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Nittany Lions Set to Open 2013 Season

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By Sam DelRosso, 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.

8474803.jpegThe 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 experience.

"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 night."

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball Season Preview Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 2-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball squad opens the 2013 season on Saturday with a pair of regular season matches inside Rec Hall.

Penn State meets Dabrowa (Poland) in an exhibition match on Friday (7 p.m.) before hosting Syracuse (11 a.m.) and No. 19 Louisville (7 p.m.) on Saturday.  With virtually the entire lineup back from the 2012 Big Ten champion squad, the Lions enter 2013 with high expectations.

Check out a series of preview interviews to get ready for the 2013 season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Women's Volleyball Preseason Practice Update - Aug. 23

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 2-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will open its 2013 season with an exhibition match against a Polish squad on Aug. 30 before officially kicking off the regular season against Syracuse and Louisville on Aug. 31 inside Rec Hall.

Preseason practice is now two weeks old for the Lions, who practiced inside the newly air conditioned main gym of Rec Hall for the first time on Friday morning. caught up with senior Katie Slay and sophomore Megan Courtney for a look into how preseason is going.

Stay tuned next week for a complete set of video preview interviews to get ready for the 2013 season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Meet the Women's Volleyball Freshmen - Laura Broerman

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will intensify its preparations for the 2013 season when practice begins in early August.

Four newcomers joined the roster since the Lions last played a match. kicks off a series of interviews with the freshmen getting set to kick off their first season in Penn State blue and white.

Today, we focus on 5-4 defensive specialist Laura Broerman.  The Colorado Springs, Colo., native comes to Penn State after four years of scholastic play at St. Mary's High School.  A team captain, Broerman earned 10 varsity letters during her time at St. Mary's.  Broerman plans to study biology at Penn State.  Meet Laura Broerman.

VIDEO: Meet Kelly Robertson

VIDEO: Meet Carley Muller

VIDEO: Meet Taylor Krause

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Meet the Women's Volleyball Freshmen - Taylor Krause

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will intensify its preparations for the 2013 season when practice begins in early August.

Four newcomers joined the roster since the Lions last played a match. kicks off a series of interviews with the freshmen getting set to kick off their first season in Penn State blue and white.

Today, we focus on 5-6 defensive specialist Taylor Krause.  The Allentown, Pa., native was a four-year letterwinner and team captain at Parkland High School in Allentown.  Krause, who plans to major in elementary education, helped guide Parkland to three conference titles, three district titles and one state championship during her scholastic career.  A Max Preps All-American, an Under Armour Second Team All-American and a Mizuno Third Team All-American, Krause also lettered in basketball and track in high school.  Her second cousin Kelly Robertson is also a member of the Penn State freshman class.  Meet Taylor Krause.

VIDEO: Meet Kelly Robertson

VIDEO: Meet Carley Muller

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Meet the Women's Volleyball Freshmen - Carley Muller

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will intensify its preparations for the 2013 season when practice begins in early August.

Four newcomers joined the roster since the Lions last played a match. kicks off a series of interviews with the freshmen getting set to kick off their first season in Penn State blue and white.

Today, we focus on 5-7 defensive specialist Carley Muller.  The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native was a two-year letterwinner and team captain at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.  Muller, who plans to major in communications, helped guide Mira Costa to two Dave Mohs Tournament titles and two North High Tournament titles during her scholastic career.  As a senior, Muller was honored as Bay League Libero of the Year.  Meet Carley Muller.

VIDEO: Meet Kelly Robertson

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Meet the Women's Volleyball Freshmen - Kelly Robertson

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will intensify its preparations for the 2013 season when practice begins in early August.

Four newcomers joined the roster since the Lions last played a match. kicks off a series of interviews with the freshmen getting set to kick off their first season in Penn State blue and white.

Today, we focus on 6-0 middle blocker Kelly Robertson.  The Allentown, Pa., product was a four-year letterwinner and team captain at Parkland High School in Allentown.  Robertson helped guide Parkland to three conference championships, three district titles and one state championship.  She was named First Team Lehigh Valley Conference twice, Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and was selected an Under Armour First Team All-American.  Additionally, Robertson's second cousin, Taylor Krause, who also went to Parkland H.S., is a member of the 2013 Penn State freshman class.  Meet Kelly Robertson.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 15, 2013: That's a Wrap!


As I write this blog, I am completely exhausted by jet lag. This 10-day trek through central Europe was one that I will never forget. Over the last week and half, a bus full of players, coaches, and boosters had the opportunity to dive into the cultures of 5 different cities in 4 different countries. To say that our bodies and sleeping patterns were out of whack would be an understatement.

Early Wednesday morning after a relaxing last evening in the lobby, we all boarded the bus to the Milan airport. This time, unfortunately, all of the bags did not fit under the bus due to the increased size of the suitcases filled with gifts and shopping bags acquired throughout the trip. All of the girls used a weighing device to ensure all bags were under that dreaded 50 pound mark. Once the aisles of the bus were filled with suitcases, we were on our way to the airport.

After a smooth check-in process and a quick flight from Milan to Paris, we were left with a 4-hour layover in Charles de Gaulle airport. Our terminal was filled with high-end shops such as Prada, Fendi, Gucci and many more! The highlight of our time in Paris was when Wayne took a seat at the piano and started playing the Penn State fight song and alma mater! We all sang along right before we boarded the airplane.
Just about 8 hours later we landed in Philadelphia and made it through customs and immigration without any delays or problems. Before the rest of the group climbed onto the bus back to State College, I said my goodbyes to all because I was driving back to New Jersey with my family who met me at the airport.

I will never forget the memories I made on this trip with so many wonderful people. I want to thank all of you in the booster club for your countless hours of hard work over the past few years, which allowed us to enjoy such an incredible experience! I look forward to seeing you all in Rec Hall this fall!

Marika Racibarskas

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 14, 2013: Ciao, Venice!


Hello, people. Today we are leaving Venice and making our way to our last stop in Europe. We woke up early, ate some delicious NUTELLA croissants, and bussed to Milan, Italy. On our way to Milan we saw a part of the Alps mountain range outside our bus window. It was cooooool.

Immediately entering into Milan, we went and ate lunch at the training center. We had it family style, meaning we started the meal with a pasta dish and then they would bring out a salad and the main course. As for the pasta, they added green onions and some bacon. Typically, I do not like onions at all, but our tour guide, TK, insisted I try them, and I ended up really enjoying them in the pasta. The main dish ended up being pork. It was good, but I could have definitely handled going for seconds.

After eating a tasty lunch, we walked over to our hotel and got ready to play the Italian National Team. We suited up and walked to the training center where we would serve and pass. After our serve pass, we would begin the European structured warm up and then compete. In the end of our scrimmage, we ended up splitting the games. They won 2 games and we won the other 2 games. Though, it was exciting to split a game with the Italian national team, it would have been nice to play out a fifth set. However, we would play them again the next day, anyway.

After the scrimmage, we went to our hotel and got ready to explore down town. We were all dressed up in the lobby and then made our way to the tram. We then got onto the tram and made our way to down town. Upon arrival, we immediately gathered around the Duomo. It was absolutely beautiful and we all took some pictures with it. After taking pictures, we dispersed and did whatever we wanted. I went and got dinner with Micha, Paulina, Deja, Chris, and Scott (also known as Jeremy). We went to a nice restaurant where I ordered a sea food antipasta. It was my favorite meal of the trip. It consisted of muscles, squid, shrimp, a nice sauce and bread. Before I dived into my plate, I had Micha take a picture of me eating an octopus tentacle, because it was cool.

After a fine meal with friends, the day was over and we took the #14 tram home and called it a day. #JEAH

Lacey Fuller

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 12, 2013: Shopping in Milan!

For Milan as a city I experienced great shopping, if you know how to hunt for reasonable prices. I ran into two great shops that weren't high in cost but great quality and did a little splurging! I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to come here and experience even just the city of a beautiful country.

Now for the volleyball...

After getting a taste of how the Italian National team plays and who we need to focus on, we should have a better handle on what to neutralize. We have to be more focused and crisp with our serve and pass game, but other than that the team is showing great effort. We have had such a eye opening experience playing and talking to pros throughout the trip. We are so blessed to have support like this boosters, parents and a university that backs us! Thank you all so much! CIAO!
Micha Hancock

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 11, 2013: Hello from Slovenia!

We had another great day in Maribor. The day started off with a big spread of meats and cheeses and other classic breakfast foods which filled us up for the morning activities. We went straight from breakfast to practice where we had our best practice of the trip thus far. During practice, we had three professional players play with us, which was cool for everyone to get to play beside them but to also ask them questions about the professional world of volleyball in Europe. Following up from practice we took a bus into town as a group with the team and boosters to have lunch and explore Maribor. We went to a great pizzeria which was very yummy. They also had dishes of pasta and lasagna and by the look of some of my teammates plates, it looked delicious. For those of us who got pizza we each got our own personal pizza that was a challenge to finish it all but we all rose to the challenge! After lunch we walked around and of course we found ourselves some gelato.

Later in the day we had our second match against the Croatian National team. We competed very hard and came out with the 3-1 win. They were an extremely good team filled with a ton of experience and different ages. Ariel had a great game for the second day in a row and was one of the key factors to our win. Following the match we went to dinner at one of the best vineyards in Europe. The Croatian team came to dinner with us which was great to get to know them and to hear their insight on professional volleyball as well. We had a fantastic meal at the vineyard which completed our wonderful stay in Maribor. Thank you to all who made this trip possible. It's truly been amazing. Off to Venice!

Maddie Martin

Hey everyone! I hope you have all been following along our blogs about this amazing experience in Europe thus far! For me, being out the country is a completely different and new experience. Although my time in Europe is winding down, I can't even explain the beauty of Europe. If you have been following along, you may have noticed that we all have different topics to talk about. Well I was lucky enough to get one of the most beautiful and breathtaking tourist attractions in all of the world. Venice, Italy was an amazing city to see and walk around in. As many of you might already know there are gondolas, which are the boats that are famous to travel around the city. As I walked around the city, it was very hard to find your way around. We quickly found out that once you passed a store, there was a slim to none chance you were going to find it again. The girls, boosters, coaches, and managers walked around the city to meet in the main square to see the main attraction, the Basilica de San Marco. It was a beautiful church with architecture like I have never seen before. Fortunately for all of us, the weather as very cooperative until about the last twenty or so minutes when it started to rain. It was just an incredible view from evey way you looked. I think I can speak for everyone when I say this has truly been an experience of a lifetime that we will never forget. Everything about it has been breathtaking. I hope to see everyone soon and tell you all about this amazing trip that wouldn't be made possible without all of your generosity and support for the progress! We have made Penn State proud over here in Europe. We wear those letters with pride and always represent who we are.

We Are....
Megan Courtney

Women's Volleyball European Trip

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2013 European Tour Photo Gallery
Check out the team's video of site-seeing in Vienna, Austria

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 10, 2013: Hello from Slovenia!

Today, we played the Croatian National Team in Maribor, Slovenia and tied 2-2. The first game started off a little rocky, but maybe it was just nerves that got us at first. The second set, we gained a bit of confidence and proceeded to win into the fourth set. Unfortunately, we didn't win the fourth set, which definitely lit a fire under us to play them tomorrow. I feel we have the confidence to play better tomorrow in our next match against them because we know that we're capable.

After the match, we took quick showers and headed to dinner where we had a buffet of meats, salad, fries, and other native Slovenian foods. It was delicious! In order to get to dinner, we had to ride a gondola up and down this huge mountain-although it was a great view, I was pretty horrified, but definitely enjoyed the new experience after looking back at it all. Following dinner, we went on a little adventure to explore what was on top of the mountain. We came in contact with a spa and a creepy old-school church that looked like it hadn't been touched in years.

After all of the food, games, and exploring, we all headed back down the mountain via gondola (I wasn't as scared this time because it was dark) and went to the Draś Hotel to get gelato-that was pure happiness. Now, it's time to head to bed and get ready for all the activities to come tomorrow.

Nia Grant

Our first morning in Slovenia was a really exciting one! We started off with a team breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, then we had a practice--working on some serving and passing. After practice we all headed back to our apartments and got changed and headed up the mountain for a team challenge on a rope course. We all arrived at the bottom of the ski lift and got on the lift to go up the mountain to the course. The view from the lift and on top of the mountain overlooking Maribor was incredible! You could see all the city and the rest of the Pohorje mountain range from the top. Then the first thing we did was get in our harnesses and ready to go on the ropes! One thing we did was climb to the top of this telephone(?) pole one at a time--it was really high!!

Then we had to stand on top of the pole and turn around and jump and our teammates would catch us (by pulling ropes on our harnesses). It was really scary and cool at the same time. Another thing we did was a giant swing thing (kind of) off the side of the mountain! It was scary, because we swung out over the trees. Which, interesting fact, Slovenia is home to over 400 brown bears...luckily we didn't see any in the forest. We had a nice lunch on the mountain then we got to take the alpine slide down. The alpine slide was like a one-man roller coaster down the side of the mountain. It was so much fun, you could get up to 25MPH!. After that we had a little time to ourselves to catch up on some sleep before the match. This trip has been amazing so far. We have got to see and do so many terrific things here. I want to thank all of you boosters for making this happen. This is a trip I will always remember fondly.

Lara Caraway

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 9, 2013: Hello to All!

I hope everyone is well back in the states. We're continuing on our great Europe adventure today as we arrived in Maribor. It is beautiful here, but slightly in the middle of nowhere. There is a training center right next to what appears to be a ski resort. There are beautiful mountains all around us and the sunset was breathtaking. When we arrived today we got off the bus, and we went straight into practice. The facilities are new and in great condition. We're happy to be in a beautiful place that has free wifi so we can talk to everyone back in the states. Hi mom and dad!

Earlier today we had a chance to sightsee around Vienna. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. The city is set up in a loop-shape which makes it easy to navigate. Yesterday some of us walked around and saw the cathedrals, parliament, and castles. There were gorgeous parks with statues, fountains, flowers, and lush greens. This morning a group of us went to Schonbrunn Palace. This is where the emperor and his family would go to vacation. We felt very accomplished as we navigated the subway system and found our way there. The palace was gigantic with acres of land which included a zoo. Some of us took a grand tour of the palace which allowed us to tour the entire first floor. The chandeliers alone were works of art. Included in the tour was a hand-held audio-guide so we could get the inside scoop on what happened in each room. My personal favorite was the ballroom where Mozart performed when he was six years old for a large group of people. It was a true brush with fame. Other people took carriage rides around the grounds which had perfectly-manicured trees and bushes. It was truly so magnificent.

Tomorrow we have a full day planned! We are going to do a ropes course, and then an alpine slide down the steep mountain. I can say that's something I've never done before. Then in the afternoon we will play a match versus the Croatian National Team.

I want to make sure all the boosters know how grateful we are for being able to take this trip. It's definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to travel with so many of your good friends. We are so lucky to have all of your support. I will cherish this trip forever. I look forward to seeing everyone and sharing more stories once we get back to the states. Ciao!
Katie Slay

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 8, 2013: On To Vienna!

After a great time in Prague, it was finally time to start making our way to Vienna. A 9 AM we packed up the bus and began our four hour bus ride. As for the people who enjoy scenery, this is was beautiful ride down the coast of the Czech border and a fantastic photo opportunity. We saw everything from beautiful fields to architecture that is nothing but a fantasy in the states. And as for everyone else...the ride was the perfect nap time. About three hours into the trip we made a 20 minute pit stop. Turned out we stopped at a gift shop with cool European candy and souvenirs. I bought a Milka Chocolate Bar, a popular brand in Europe. After two more hours we finally made it to our destination, beautiful Vienna, Austria.

After checking into our rooms at the Marriott we had the opportunity to tour the city just about all day. It was great to see the different styles of architecture and the awesomeness of a new European city. Most of us walked out to the Parliament building and the historical castles that line the outskirts of the main ring. We took pictures then continued our journey to a park in the center of town.

After that a few of the girls and I stopped at a cute little Austrian restaurant for lunch. It consisted of a typical meal with potatoes and some variation of meat. Although the language barrier was tough, it was nice to completely immerse ourselves in the culture. All in all, I consider Vienna a success. A new city always brings great opportunities to experience a new way if life.

Until next time,
Ariel Scott

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 7, 2013: Hello from Prague!

Hallo from Prague!!

What an incredible experience! First of all, I just want to thank all of our boosters for your outstanding generosity in making this trip possible. We know none of us would be experiencing such a one-of-a-lifetime trip without you, and from the entire team we can't thank you enough! While we wish we could spend the trip with all of you, we hope our blogs and pictures will at least give you a taste of our travels. We miss you all!

This morning we started with another nice breakfast at the hotel, complete with about 17 different types of bread and pastries, Nutella, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, and caprese salad (mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil)--which was a little bit of a mix-up for most of us. Our whole group then headed to the Charles Bridge, which is a very famous landmark for the Czech Republic, and connects the "Old Town" to the "New Town" of Prague. The view and the bridge itself were absolutely beautiful. Thankfully we were there early enough in the day that it wasn't too crowded, and we could meander about and check out all the statues as we pleased. Once we crossed the bridge, our tour guide took us to see the Old Town Square. There was a really neat Astronomical Clock there, which depicts the "Walk of the Apostles." We were told it is a very popular pickpocketing site, since at every hour all the tourists are focused on the moving figurines instead of their purses and wallets. Thankfully we made it without any incident!

We had a couple hours on our own after our tour of Old Town Square--some of us went shopping in the little shops, and some found other cool sites to see and take model-esque pictures in front of. :) I have to say I think my favorite part of the city was the cobblestone streets and roads everywhere. But we couldn't decide how in the world they could possibly plow for snow!

Later in the afternoon the team took the tram to the gym to warm up for our second match against the Praha Seniors. We traded games the whole match but ended up losing 15-13 in the 5th. It definitely wasn't the way we wanted to start the trip but it showed that we can't take the level of play here any less serious than the Big 10, and we all need to step it up for our next matches.

After the match we all headed to the same restaurant from the first night for a traditional Czech meal. It started with a beef and potato stew, which was delicious and quite the crowd-pleaser. The main course was a really common Czech dish--goulash with dumplings. After we were all stuffed to the max, the dessert was three mini pancake-type cakes with a blueberry sauce. Carp informed us that blueberry pancakes are her favorite so needless to say she was in Heaven, and we all left with purple tongues.

Overall, another awesome day on an amazing trip. Again, thank you to all the boosters for your incredible support in making this all possible!


Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 6, 2013

Known as the "City of a Thousand Spires" Prague has seen it all. Centuries of kings, classical composers, invading Nazis and Soviet tanks and now the Penn State women's volleyball team have all passed over Prague's cobblestones.

So on our stay, we saw the many Baroque churches, the royal palace, flagstone courtyards all in which lay within Prague's castle. In fact, this castle is the largest castle area in the world composing of 18 acres. All of the architecture and artwork is incredible and covered in detail. However nothing was quite like viewing Prague's romantic skyline, and view from on top of the hill (where the Castle sits) to the city below.

Of course, important to talk about is the food. It scarcely matters which place you select expect menus with staples of tender, seasoned pork, mildly sweet cabbage and soft dumplings to soak up the rich sauce. Desert favorites include crepes or dumplings filled with fruit.

As for the fun facts:

Did you know...

That Prague is known for being having some of the biggest Beer drinkers? - Czech's drink more beer per capita than other country in the world and each head will sink about 43 gallons a year- dang!

During the Middle Ages turning minerals into gold was a hugely popular fashion among the elite. - The mark of ones status was magician- oooo ahhhh!!

Writers and academics have claimed to have felt strange and disturbing tremors coming from under the ground. - Dark alleys and desolate squares have been known to produce many eerie sounds.... Can you say ghosts??

And the first ever sugar cubes were made in 1841- yumm!

On behalf of the team, we would like to thank you boosters for sending us on the trip of a lifetime. We promise to work harder on the court to represent Penn State well and make you all proud.

Kendall Pierce

Women's Volleyball European Trip - May 5, 2013


Today was our first traveling day. The day started in an uproar as we scrambled around the locker room at 10 in the morning. Just about all of us had over-packed and were struggling to get our bags under 50 pounds. Despite the hectic start we were all extremely excited. By 11, we were settled on the bus accompanied by boosters headed to Philly. The 3-hour ride was very chill. We spent the time snacking, napping, jamming to music and talking about our hopes for Europe.

In Philly we headed to the gate boarding for Atlanta. As soon as we checked in we rushed to the food court. We ate giant ice cream cones but could only think about how much better the gelato in Europe was going to taste. We were loaded with no problem and within 2 hours the girls and I were in the Peach State. After waiting about an hour, we were boarding our flight to Amsterdam, making our trip officially international.

The plane was huge with three giant compartments and six stewardesses all dressed in bright blue. Each of their accents stuck out as they said hello to us as we boarded. All different types of languages were being spoken on the plane. Even the announcements came on in four different tongues. When we took off it was rainy and the skies were rough so the ride was bumpy. But even Lacey, who is not fond of flying, still made it through.

Eight hours and two airplane meals later the group was getting their passports stamped. I was amazed by the size of the airport, AMS being one of the biggest hubs in all of Europe. There were all kinds of shops, from Gucci to cigar shops. Because of a previous delay we didn't have much time to explore before starting the final leg of our trip.

As the crew got on our final plane to Prague we were all pooped. Flying above the countryside was breathtaking. The view of rolling hills and clusters of small towns was almost like flying over Happy Valley. The small jet got us to the Czech in two hours flat.

Even though the time spent getting to Prague was just the beginning of the trip it was also a time of bonding and memory making.

Deja McClendon

Coaches Caravan: Day III - Lancaster and Harrisburg

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Coaches Caravan Registration

Photo Gallery: Lancaster | Photo Gallery: Harrisburg

CAMP HILL, Pa. - The Coaches Caravan capped off the first leg of the 12-stop tour with visits to Lancaster and Harrisburg on Thursday.

A capacity crowd of 330 fans greeted head coaches Bill O'Brien, Cael Sanderson and Russ Rose for a luncheon at Penn Square in Lancaster.  The bus then loaded up for a 50-minute drive to Camp Hill for the week's final stop before nearly 550 enthusiastic attendees.  In total, more than 2,100 fans and alums took part in Caravan stops during week one.  Take a look through some highlights on day three at two visits to the heart of Nittany Nation.

Stop V - Lancaster (Marriott at Penn Square)
A sold out crowd of 330 enthusiastic Penn State fans and alums greeted all three coaches on the docket for Thursday's lunch stop with a warm, standing ovation reception.  Five-time NCAA champion women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose joined the Caravan for the final day of the initial leg.

Sanderson kicked off the panel of speakers with high praise of the other two leaders on stage with him.  The wrestling offices are just down the hall from the women's volleyball offices inside Rec Hall, and Sanderson told the crowd that when he sees Rose and how he runs his program, he uses it as motivation for leading the wrestling program.

"Coach Rose is a tremendous asset for Penn State," Sanderson said.

"What he (Coach O'Brien) has done for the University is unbelievable," Sanderson went on to say.

Nestled in the heart of wrestling country, Sanderson took the opportunity to tell the fans to take advantage of the opportunity to see talents like David Taylor and Ed Ruth wrestle during their senior seasons.  Sanderson said that elite athletes like those two do not come around too often.

Rose took the microphone second and echoed Sanderson's remarks about the cast of coaches on stage at the Caravan stops on Thursday.  He joked that his team's 109-match winning streak during the program's unprecedented string of four-straight NCAA titles pales is just a number alongside Sanderson's 159-0 mark as a collegiate wrestler.

The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team will kick off a European tour on Saturday.  Rose said he is looking forward to how his team works during the offseason.  The Lions kick off the trip in the Czech Republic and cap things off in Italy.

One of the great things about the Caravan is seeing how the coaches interact with one another.  All three leaders were truly genuine in their remarks directed at one another.  Sanderson and Rose both praised O'Brien for his leadership of the program during the past 15 months.  O'Brien's feelings are mutual for the other two coaches.  He and Sanderson shared stories and exchanged coaching philosophies throughout the bus travel on Thursday.

"It's very humbling to share the stage with Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson," O'Brien said as he opened his speech.

The trio of coaches in Lancaster was among the seven Penn State leaders who earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors during the 2012-13 season.

"[Penn State] is a great place to be.  Our coaching staffs are really strong in a lot of areas," Rose said.

VIDEO: Lancaster Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien, Rose and Sanderson


Stop VI: Harrisburg (Radisson Camp Hill)

Following a luncheon before a capacity crowd, the Caravan rolled into the Harrisburg area for an evening program in Camp Hill.  Nearly 550 guests congregated inside the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson to hear O'Brien, Sanderson and Rose address the crowd on Thursday night.

caravan_harrisburg1.jpg The first week of the Caravan ended with a night fun night of entertainment for the fans in Harrisburg.  The largest crowd of the week was a lively, engaged group from start to finish during the speeches and Q&A, largely thanks to another sterling performance from leadoff man Cael Sanderson to kick-start the program.

After drawing a huge crowd and shaking countless hands during the pre-event reception, Sanderson had the audience in stiches with one-liner after one-liner during his speech.  Among many quick-witted moments, he got the crowd into a standing ovation contest, as he called it, to see how many times he could get the crowd to give O'Brien a standing ovation during his own speech.

All three coaches fed off of one another at both stops on Thursday, but Sanderson and O'Brien were a comical matchup on stage throughout the evening in Harrisburg.  O'Brien answered Sanderson's stand-up act later during his speech by ribbing the wrestling legend for losing a grand total of three matches from high school through college (He was a combined 286-3 in high school and college.)

"Come on, Cael. You could have done better than that (laughter)," O'Brien said.

With the crowd roaring, Rose took the microphone and said," Cael's on fire!"  The Nittany Lion women's volleyball head coach went on to tell the crowd that the individuals in the room understood what the true meaning is behind being a Penn Stater.  The 34-year veteran also knows a thing or two about what Penn State is all about with its success on the field of play and in the classroom.

"I've been there a long time, and I love being there," Rose said.  "I'm not going anywhere."

"When you talk about Penn State around the country, you just want people to see what people are like in a room like this," O'Brien said.

The Penn State community is special to all three coaches.  Without a doubt, they all had fun joking with one another on stage Thursday night, but there is no question how each coach feels about the place they call home and the people who support the Blue and White.

"If you have that support before the success that's how you get the success, and that's what we have at Penn State," Sanderson said.

"A roomful of energetic, passionate Penn Staters, this is what it's all about," O'Brien said.    

VIDEO: Harrisburg Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien, Rose and Sanderson

caravan_harrisburg2.jpgcaravan_harrisburg3.jpgcaravan_harrisburg4.jpg Miles Covered on Day One - 203 miles
Miles Covered on Day Two - 147 miles
Miles Covered on Day Three -
254 miles
Caravan Total -
604 miles

The Caravan resumes on Tuesday with stops in Williamsport and Allentown.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony