Well it was an exciting weekend for Penn State sports all around! Our football team came away with a Big Ten win, the women's soccer team won their playoff match in a nail-biter Sunday night, and we finished the weekend with Coach Rose's 15th Big Ten Championship! OneTeam!
The flight to Indiana was pretty uneventful, other than everyone not having class this week, so we didn't have to worry about doing much homework. The gym at Indiana is pretty small, so we had to create our own energy and take control of the match. Indiana played hard but we won 3-0 and flew off to West Lafayette. A bunch of us crammed around a TV in the hotel lobby to watch the end of the Minnesota-Nebraska match. With Minnesota's win, we were officially Big Ten champs, so we were all excited. But we knew Purdue was a very good team and that we would have to be very prepared to play them. Also, we knew Purdue was trying to pack Mackey Arena for the match, so we had to be ready for a big crowd rooting against us. They ended up getting a big turnout, although the fans weren't as loud and rowdy as some places we play. The team got really fired up when we had some questionable officiating calls, and we won the match 3-1. It was a really good experience getting to play there though, since Mackey Arena is one of the four sites for regionals this year.
We got back to State College that night, and are looking forward to a whole week at home. It is such an awesome feeling to not have class! Lots of the team's family members will be traveling to Happy Valley this week for Thanksgiving, so it will be really fun getting to see all of them. And senior night is on Saturday, I don't want to believe it! Kristin and Marika are two of my best friends and they have given so much to the Penn State Volleyball program. The team won't be the same without them!
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Juniors Katie Slay and Deja McClendon talk about Penn State clinching its ninth
Big Ten title in the past 10 years. The
Nittany Lions return home on Wednesday night for a match against Ohio State
inside Rec Hall (7 p.m.). The Lions also
take on Michigan State on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the regular season finale.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Salutations planet Earth. This is Lacey. It has been nice spending most of November playing in Rec Hall and not being on the road. Last weekend we faced both Illinois and Northwestern. Traditionally these teams play really hard against us, so we had an intense week in the gym preparing.
On Thursday Illinois practiced in the morning while we were sitting in class getting our academia on. After a long day of getting educated, we had a brief practice and got some touches before the game. Following this ritual, game-day practice we watched film and ate Rotelli's. Eating is my favorite. My typical Rotelli's plate will consist of 2 slices of pineapple, no salad, and spaghetti. My second plate will then typically consist of several bread rolls. Traditionally I will consume about seven rolls but sometimes I'll challenge myself and go for that eighth or 12th roll. Lastly I went for three cookies, compliments to Mrs. Courtney.
After the meal we had to get focused and warm up for the game. We were all anxious to play after a good week of practice. Illinois played hard, but we ended up winning the game in three. We had a really good serving game, which was good because we have struggled this season with serving.
After the win we were ready for our Saturday game against Northwestern. I was especially excited to play the wildcats because my former high school teammate, Katie Dutchman plays in the middle. They dug a lot of balls and played well, but we ended up winning the game. Coach always emphasizes how hard Northwestern plays and we were ready for them to make great plays.
It was good getting two solid wins but now we need to prepare for a tough weekend in Indiana. Hopefully we play well and claim the Big 10 title. We shall see. Over and out.
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When a team prepares to play against Penn State, it
makes sure to watch out for the blue and white jersey with the number one on
The girl wearing it stands at around 6-foot-4 and is most dangerously found
wading toward the right side of the net.
She's got a weighty swing and big block, and she's not afraid to use them.
On the Nittany Lion roster, she's listed with the name 'Ariel Scott'. But
her coaches and her teammates like to shorten her first name to just one
letter, making her more commonly known around State College as just 'A. Scott'.
The junior right side hitter has become a stronghold for the Penn State
offense and a silent leader on the court this season. As a co-captain, Scott
has taken on the role of being one of the most reliable athletes in the
"I think she's a very intimidating player," said teammate and fellow junior
Deja McClendon. "She's a tremendous presence. She hits a heavy ball and I think
that when people see that, they're afraid. I think she's done a really good job
of being a leader."
Scott has been able to draw attention to herself on defense as well,
stepping up at the net and fronting 74 total blocks this season. That number is
third-best on the Penn State roster behind only her two middle blockers, Katie
Slay and Nia Grant.
"She's a threat in the front-row and the back-row so they have to be
worried about her all the time," McClendon said of her team's opponents facing
Scott. "That opens up the door for other players. She allows the middles to
have one-on-ones and allows me to have one-on-ones and that helps in so many
The Ridgewood, New Jersey native has shined throughout all 95 sets she has
played this season, tallying a team-high 346 kills on 3.64 kills per set.
So what sparked such high-level performances this year compared to last?
"I think more experience has definitely been helping me," said Scott. "My
freshman year I didn't play all that much and last year was my first year that
I was on the court full-time so I think the swing my second season definitely
helped me a lot."
Alongside former talents of Blair Brown, Arielle Wilson and Fatima Balza,
Scott's talent did not fully come to the forefront until this season. Now, the
junior says that instead of relying on one or two people to generate offense,
she and the Lions tend to share the wealth.
"I think this year, especially, we've been really good at scoring from all
positions," said Scott. "The middles are doing really well, [Megan Courtney]'s
doing really well, Deja is also good at scoring too so it definitely helps to
have an all-around team."
And while Scott said that she appreciates her teammates for their offensive
output, her teammates are thankful that she is as calm, cool and collected as
she continues to be.
"I think she's really mellow and I really like that about her," said McClendon.
"She's never too crazy or too low so I think she keeps us grounded. We need
The veteran knows what it is like to win a national title and what it's
like to finish just shy of one. With
just four matches left in the regular season, Scott said that the Lions are
doing everything that they can to keep pressing and keep challenging their
opponents one at a time.
"We have Big Tens and we're finishing Big Tens soon but that's not our
final goal," said Scott. "Our final goal is a national championship so we're
going to keep working harder for that."
Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions love to
play volleyball in Rec Hall.
No. 2 Penn State picked up two more conference
wins at home this weekend to extend their unbeaten streak to 21 wins on their
home court. The Lions have not dropped a match in Rec Hall for more than two
years now, and have won all 13 of their home matches this season.
Head coach Russ Rose said that Penn State added
another accolade to its list by defeating Illinois on Thursday night in Rec
"It was a Thursday night match and it was the
first one we've ever had," said Rose. "It was a challenge."
But the Lions looked as comfortable as ever and
completely in their element as they skated to a three-set victory of the Illini
behind tough serving and solid defense. The team continued the trend on
Saturday night and swept Northwestern, too.
With the pair of wins, Penn State improved its
conference record to 15-1 overall and sit atop the Big Ten leader board with a
three-game cushion over next closest opponent Minnesota, who comes in at 12-4.
"Let's try to be the best team that we can be
and try to compete at the highest level," Rose said after his team's second win
in three days.
And the Lions did just what their coach
As a team, Penn State combined for an average
hitting percentage of .309 and tallied nine service aces and 20 blocks in the two
Sophomore setter Micha Hancock registered three
of those nine aces for the Lions. And although she wasn't the one serving up
aces, junior outside hitter Deja McClendon said that being on the court when
her teammate gets a big ace is a pretty big deal.
"These are our sisters," said McClendon. "When
she gets an ace, I get an ace and that's what it feels like for me so I get
extra pumped up."
But when Penn State isn't getting energized
about aces and tough serving, they're probably smiling about another key part
of the game.
"Getting a big block, no matter who it is, is
definitely one of the most exciting things," said junior right-side hitter
Freshman outside hitter Megan Courtney agreed
with Scott, and said that she'd take a big block over a big kill any day.
Courtney had four block assists and three solo blocks on the weekend to lead
her team at the net, but assured that her tough play wasn't always guaranteed.
"I think I was just feeling it," said
Courtney."I try to make the best move that I possibly can. I guess coach says
it a lot that you can have the best block in the world and then you just get
lucky sometimes and I guess I just got really lucky."
The Lions said that they are looking to stay
confident and consistent in their remaining four matches to round out their
regular-season schedule and conference play. Penn State needs to win two more
conference matches to claim the Big Ten title this season.
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming in at 23-2 overall with just one conference
loss this season, the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team sits atop the Big
Ten leaderboard with six regular season matches left to play.
In the Big Ten, the Lions lead all other teams in three specific categories.
They are first in kills per set averaging 14.69, blocks per set with 2.93 and
also rank as the top team to limit their opponents' hitting percentage to just
All in all, the student-athletes that represent the Penn State program have
been putting in the hours and putting up the numbers they need to be successful
in the conference. The Lions are looking to continue that trend this week as
they host Illinois on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Northwestern on Saturday at 8 p.m.
But part of the same successful program that may not always be in the forefront
of a practice or a match or a statistics report are the people that sit on the
sidelines in the chairs match in and match out.
Head coach Russ Rose is in his 34th year with the Nittany Lion program and said
that whether his team has one mid-week match or a weekend full of matches,
preparation is always key.
"Illinois is a good team," said Rose. "But I think
every match is a tough match."
This season Rose said that he has
been placing more focus on his team's play rather the opponents' in preparation
for a match. But after a tough first half of the conference season where his
team played the majority of its volleyball on the road, Rose said that he's
happy to be competing at home this weekend.
"We have to take advantage of
these two weeks at home after being away for what seems like five or six weeks,"
said Rose. "I think that's really important especially around here."
Rose is joined by assistant
coaches Kaleena Davidson and Steve Aird in leading the Lions. Aird is in his
first year with the Nittany Lion program and said it's important that the team
understands how to get better every day.
"I think they understand the gameplan,"
said Aird. "Coach [Rose] works really hard at developing a gameplan that's
going to be something that the kids understand going into matches. So the
feedback we're getting from them is, 'Hey, we know what we're supposed to be
The first time the Lions and the
Illini met this season, Illinois pushed the match into a fifth set behind a
strong offensive performance and tough blocking at the net. Penn State went on
to win the match, 3-2, but not without a fight.
On Thursday, Aird said that it's
especially crucial for his team to use what they've learned in the practice gym
and project it onto the court.
"The key is just execution," said
Aird. "The kids have watched lots of film. I think they're a lot more mature
about their games and a little bit more prepared than they have been in the
past and I think that's a good thing."
Hello everyone! Megan Courtney here! I hope everyone is staying warm and safe from the destruction of hurricane Sandy. Can you believe that Penn State actually closed the university for a day?! Me either! I was shocked! But as my mom always says safety first! Not only was campus closed, but practice was cancelled as well! Don't get me wrong I love playing and practicing, but we could all use a day off! During this rare and unusual free time I actually got stop and just enjoy the little things. It gave me a chance to actually do things I enjoy outside of volleyball and my very busy schedule. I think I can speak for most of the girls when I say that it was truly a blessing.
But like always after our day off, practice and lifting was a lot tougher the next day. Coming off the loss to Nebraska, things were tough for all of us. But it wasn't time to focus on the things we didn't do right, but to move forward and learn from our mistakes and missed opportunities. During our week of practice we were all focused on our next opponent, Minnesota. Without a doubt, we gave them the attention they most definitely deserve. We knew they were good, and we knew what we had to do to get another W. That is exactly what we did. We were for sure tested and pushed by Minnesota, but we ended up on top after a great match by both sides. Minnesota is a great team and a tough opponent to play against so I give them the utmost respect.
On Sunday, I got the opportunity of a lifetime, to play the game I love with a group of amazing girls and a great coaching staff for nationally televised network, ESPN2. The opponent: Wisconsin. Once again, after the Minnesota game, we looked at the good things, put them in our memory banks, learned from the bad things, and turned our focus toward Wisconsin. If I have learned anything about the Big Ten this year it's that any given night a team can beat another. It is arguably the most competitive conference in the country. It really tests your skills physically and mentally. You are required to play your best every night or you could be defeated rather than victorious.
I hope to see you all on Thursday as we take on a tough Illinois team. Our game is on the Big Ten Network so be sure to come out and continue to support us and tell your friends and family about the game. It's never a bad thing to have too much support :)
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The third-ranked Nittany Lions returned home for the
first time in two weeks and made the most of it by grabbing two more Big Ten
Penn State defeated No. 10 Minnesota in four sets on Friday night in Rec
Hall and continued to dominate on Sunday with a sweep of Wisconsin.
It was a team effort all-around as six Lions recorded more than 10 kills,
four had more than 10 digs and combined the squad tallied 17 service aces.
Junior outside hitter Ariel Scott had a standout weekend with 20 kills
against Minnesota and another 14 against Wisconsin for a total of 34 kills on
the weekend. She said that she and her sophomore setter Micha Hancock have been
working on solidifying their connection on the court, and she was happy that it
improved in two crucial conference outings.
"Just between the two of us in the past we've had some communication
problems just because we're on the some side of the court," said Scott. "We're
really working on working that out and I think, especially at this point in the
season, it's beneficial to the whole team."
Service errors and inconsistent passing have plagued the Lions in recent matches and
has been a sticking point for the team thus far. But Penn State passed well out
of the back-row and kept their serves between the white lines during both
matches, suffering a total of just 17 service errors in the two contests.
Junior middle hitter Katie Slay attributed the solid play to her team's
ability to communicate well and really concentrate on playing good volleyball
from start to finish.
"We just have to come out and play to our level on our side of the net and
that's really what we have to focus on," said Slay. "Coming out of the gate we
have to start strong."
Slay is not only a returning All-American but also a team captain this
season. She said that she constantly reminds her teammates to keep pushing
their limits and work on themselves before they worry about their opponents.
"In the home stretch we really have to focus on our side of the net," said
Slay. "I know we say that a lot but it's super important because you have to
have a certain level of expectation so you know what you're going to bring out
on the floor."
At 12-1 in the conference with just five matches left to play in the
regular season, the Lions sit atop the Big Ten leader board with a two-game
advantage over their next closest competitor. The Penn State women's volleyball
program has claimed the Big Ten conference crown in 14 of the last 20 seasons.
Rose said that while he acknowledges the conference success of the
program over the past couple of decades, he hopes that his team's outcome this
season will be determined by their own will to compete rather than its assumed
"These guys should want to win because they want to win," said Rose.
"You've got to have your eyes going forward and play it out and go hard. It's
been a great fall."
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After two weeks on the road that ended in a tough
loss to then fourth-ranked Nebraska, the Nittany Lions are finally back in
their home gym. And man, are they relieved.
"I just love this
gym and I am always so happy to come back," said junior outside hitter Deja
McClendon before a practice this week. "Now it's time to go to work."
McClendon and her
Lions will open up the weekend against Minnesota on Friday at 8 p.m. in Rec
Hall. The team will have a day's rest and then host the Badgers of Wisconsin on
Sunday at 2 p.m.
No. 3 Penn State
has played 12 conference matches already this season, and with just eight Big
Ten matches left in the regular season the team is looking to finish strong.
The Lions hold an 11-1 record in the conference, dropping their only match to
the Cornhuskers in five sets last weekend.
McClendon said that
matches like the one against Nebraska aren't always the most fun to deal with
immediately after, but eventually serve as motivators for her team.
"Games like that where we let up and we lose, that kind of
stuff really fires us up and tells us to get in the gym, start practicing, it's
not over 'til it's over," said McClendon. "It doesn't matter if you've swept
them once or beat them once, it's a new game."
Because the squad is more than halfway through its conference schedule, the
rest of the matches that the Nittany Lions play will be against teams that
they've already faced at least once this season. McClendon said that there are
both advantages and disadvantages of playing a team that they've seen before.
"The second time a lot of it has to do with how your team
has adjusted and I think that since [the other team] kind of knows some of our
freshmen better this time around it's going to be a little bit easier for them
to adjust. But it's the same with us - we've seen these serves a couple of
times around so we have time to get ready for them too."
Penn State heads into the weekend at 21-2 overall and has
not fallen out of the top five ranked teams since the season began in August.
The team has cruised offensively for the majority of their match-ups,
out-hitting their opponents by a percentage of .302 to .136 and taking 15 of
their victories in just three sets.
McClendon said that at this time in the season players have
a tendency to slowly break down both mentally and physically, but said that she
has yet to see that in any of her teammates.
"I think as a team we've come together and we're a lot
tighter," said McClendon. "[Micha Hancock]'s getting a lot better. I think
she's adjusting and our middles are connecting a lot better with her right now.
We've learned a lot."
Sophomore setter Hancock echoed her elder teammate's
thoughts and said that at this time of the year, the Lions know what they want
to do - they just have to go do it.
"This is when it really matters," said Hancock. "The last
games are what determine who wins the Big Ten, who gets the good seeding and
everything for the tournament so this is where we really need to focus."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The third-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns home on Friday
for the first time in two weeks. Penn
State takes on Minnesota on Friday at 8 p.m. (BTN) and Wisconsin on Sunday at 2
GoPSUsports.com caught up with libero Dominique Gonzalez for a one-on-one to
get ready for the home matches.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony