Coaches Caravan To Make 12 Stops April 30-May 9 in Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic
Penn State offers five girls' volleyball camps
Nittany Lions Win Five Big Ten Championships En Route to Sixth Consecutive Top 10 Fall Finish
Women's soccer reaches College Cup final; Five Big Ten Championships & Coaches of Year
Penn State leads all Big Ten institutions in Fall honorees
NCAA Final Four
Record-breaking. History-making. Unprecedented. All of those words can be used to describe the tenure of Penn State women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose's career in Happy Valley. After 33 seasons leading the Nittany Lions, his name has become synonymous with the pride and tradition of the program. At the helm of arguably the most successful program in the country, Russ Rose continues to pass along the confidence and character he has gained during his career.
In 33 seasons at Penn State, Rose has collected wins at a staggering pace. Never having posted fewer than 22 wins in a season, he enters the 2012 season as the NCAA leader in career winning percentage, having won more than 86 percent of the matches he has coached at Penn State. He is just the third active Division I head coach to reach 1,000 career wins, having reached the milestone with an NCAA National Semifinal victory against Hawaii in 2009. A victory which earned the Nittany Lions a spot in the NCAA Championship match.
While he doesn't focus on personal accolades, Rose's accomplishments read like a laundry list of volleyball awards. In 2007 Rose was one of three coaches inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame and was also named the AVCA Division I National Coach of the Year, the AVCA Mideast Region Coach of the Year and the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the coaches and the media. He garnered all three awards again in 2008 in leading his team to its third NCAA title. In response to the awards, Rose focused the praise back on his teams. "It's a great honor to be recognized by the governing organization of your sport," he said with regards to the Hall of Fame induction. "It's an individual award given to a coach of a team sport, so it's a reflection of the great players and staff, and the commitment the university has made to give us an opportunity to compete at a high level and have success."
Others also realize the impact that Rose has had on the volleyball community, not only in Pennsylvania but across the country.
"Halls of Fame are reserved for those who have done exceptional work for a long, long time," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "These candidates are the best of the best, and credit Russ Rose with putting Penn State and the East on the volleyball map. His national championships, his remarkable string of elite teams and his parade of homegrown All-Americans have all contributed to making volleyball a national sport."
It was Rose's parade of homegrown All-Americans and their supporting cast that have aided the Nittany Lions on their historic run from 2007-2010. It was four of those homegrown All-Americans that aided Rose and the Nittany Lions in capturing the NCAA National Championship in 2007 by outlasting Stanford in five sets in Sacramento, Calif. Juniors Nicole Fawcett and Christa Harmotto and sophomore Megan Hodge earned AVCA First Team All-America honors while sophomore Alisha Glass picked up AVCA Second Team All-America accolades. Penn State finished the year with a 34-2 record and did not lose a contest after Sept. 15, dropping only 18 sets in the entire season. The Nittany Lions ended the season ranked first in the country in hitting percentage, attacking at a Big Ten-record clip of .350, good for second all-time in the Penn State annals. The Nittany Lions also continued their dominance of the Big Ten, posting a perfect 20-0 record and capturing their fifth consecutive outright conference title, a feat never before accomplished by a volleyball squad. Harmotto earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors by annihilating the conference record for hitting percentage. She attacked at a .492 clip for the year to top the previous record of .455 set in 1986.
The Nittany Lions improved upon 2007's result the very next season not just by winning their third national title, but becoming only the sixth team to win back-to-back national titles and only the fourth team to manage it while going undefeated. The 2008 squad led by six AVCA All-Americans, including first team honorees Harmotto, Fawcett (AVCA National Player of the Year), Glass and Hodge and second team honorees Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson, finished the season with a perfect 38-0 record. The Nittany Lions won a record-breaking 111 straight sets on their way to the title, and entered 2009 on a NCAA record-breaking 64-match winning streak. The Lions finished 2008 setting a rally-scoring era record for hitting percentage with a mark of .390. It is the second-highest percentage of all time for any era. Penn State once again dominated the Big Ten finishing with a 20-0 record for the fifth time. The squad had five First Team All-Big Ten honorees and Fawcett was named PSU's 18th Big Ten Player of the Year.
Back-to-back national titles weren't enough for the Nittany Lions who became the first team in Division I women's volleyball history to win three in a row with a come-from-behind triumph against No. 2 Texas in 2009. Led by four returning All-Americans in Hodge, Glass, Wilson and Brown, Penn State finished with a 38-0 record for the second straight season extending their record-breaking winning streak to 102-consecutive matches. Hodge, the AVCA National Player of the Year and Honda-Broderick Cup Co-Winner, Glass, Wilson and Brown all picked up first team All-America honors and Wilson shattered NCAA record for hitting percentage attacking at a .540 clip for the year. With another dominating performance in the Big Ten with a perfect 20-0 record, Hodge was named the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second time, freshman phenom Darcy Dorton was named the Freshman of the Year and Rose was honored as the league's Coach of the Year.
Despite plenty of doubters heading into the 2010 season, the Nittany Lions were unfazed and began a quest for a fourth straight NCAA National Championship. Things got off to a rough start as the record-breaking winning streak came to an end at 109 consecutive matches when Stanford, the last team to have defeated the Nittany Lions back in 2007, upended Penn State on Sept. 11. The Nittany Lions closed out the preseason without another loss, but would open Big Ten play going 3-3. With a shot at the league title on the line, the Lions went on to win their next 16 matches. Even after losing their final conference match of the season, the Nittany Lions took home their eighth straight and 14th overall Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions proved unstoppable through NCAA Tournament action, defeating Niagara, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Duke at home. In a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Championship, Penn State stormed past the Longhorns on their way to a convincing 3-0 win against California for the NCAA crown. Brown earned conference player of the year accolades, was a Honda Award winner and joined Wilson as an AVCA First Team All-American. Freshman Deja McClendon picked up Second Team laurels, was named the AVCA Division I Freshman of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Championship, the first freshman since Kerri Walsh to earn the honor.
In 2003, Rose celebrated 25 years of coaching at Penn State. He was honored with a bench outside of the post office sponsored by the Penn State Booster Club and surprised with a gathering of more than 40 former players and members of the program, who offered their thoughts and insights on Rose and his career.
"It was my sophomore year when he said `When you leave this gym, when you finish your career, every day you leave here, you should feel like you gave 110 percent,'" said former player Christy Cochran (1995-98). "And that's exactly it. If you put your career in his hands, you'll be great."
Rose's influence in the lives of his former players is evident. "I truly miss him," said four-time All-American Bonnie Bremner (1996-99). "I don't even miss playing, I just miss seeing him every day."
However, even with all of his success on the court, Rose does not reflect on past successes. "Fans can get spoiled very quickly in athletics and that's a problem," Rose said. "It's never easy to be successful in anything and when people get accustomed to specific results, it sometimes loses its effect on the players and they forget what it really takes to succeed and how important the journey really should be to their development. The challenge is in getting players who want to become good and are willing to work instead of attending a school because the team is good."
Instead, Rose addresses each new team and season on its own terms and his confidence lies in the ability and work ethic of his current players and coaching staff.
"I'm not much of a believer in predicting a team's level of success," Rose said. "I can only state that we're going to do our best. If we're good enough to win matches then we're going to win matches, but if we lose it's never going to be because we didn't prepare, respect our opponent and work hard and it's not going to be because we rested on our program's previous laurels."
For a good example of this statement, look no further than the 1999 season. Following two consecutive campaigns which saw the Lions reach the title match of the NCAA Tournament only to fall in defeat, the team returned to the NCAA Tourney finale in 1999 and captured the first National Championship in the program's history with a 3-0 sweep over top-ranked Stanford. The 1999 season also saw Rose lead Penn State to its second-consecutive 20-0 record in Big Ten play (and fourth straight conference title), becoming the first team in conference history to pull off the feat. In addition, the 1999 Nittany Lions extended their NCAA record home-match winning streak to 80 straight (extended to 87 in 2000), eclipsing the previous standard of 58 set by Florida from 1990-94. The Lions streak was finally put to a halt at 87 matches with a loss versus Minnesota on Sept. 29, 2000. Penn State had last dropped a match at Rec Hall on Nov. 24, 1994, when they suffered a 3-2 setback to Illinois, a span of over five seasons.
After posting a runner-up finish in 1997, the Lions made it back to the NCAA Championship match in 1998. The team cruised through the regular season with a 30-0 mark, with 28 of those coming in three games. Penn State also became only the second school to close out the Big Ten schedule with a perfect 20-0 mark.
After winning its fifth Big Ten title, Penn State hosted the NCAA First and Second Rounds and the Central Regional. They swept past Bucknell, Clemson, Louisville and Brigham Young to earn a spot in the school's fourth national semifinal. Once they reached Madison, Wis., the season ended much like 1997. Penn State defeated Nebraska 3-1 to advance to the national championship match. Once again, the Lions had to rally from a 0-2 deficit to force a fifth game only to come up short against Long Beach State for the NCAA title, the only Final with two undefeated teams.
However, perhaps nowhere has Rose's infusion of confidence been more evident than in the two other years when he led an inexperienced team with one starting senior and a rookie setter deep into the postseason.
In 1996, the Lions started out 15-0, before finishing the regular season with a 29-2 mark and a share of the Big Ten title, Rose's third in six seasons in the conference. The squad that took the court in the NCAA tournament was comprised of one senior, one junior, one sophomore and three freshmen. That talented group came two points from knocking off Nebraska at home, in a match to go to the national semifinal. Penn State finished the campaign with a 31-3 record and a final ranking of No. 5. Half of those starters, Bonnie Bremner, Angie Kammer and Terri Zemaitis, earned All-America honors, while Bremner became Penn State's first Big Ten Freshman of the Year for her play at setter.
The 1995 squad posted a 27-8 record and a No. 8 final national ranking. Rose's ability to convey a belief in his players and to instill an uncompromising work ethic led to the Nittany Lions' sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Regionals and a third-place finish in the Big Ten. Along the way he guided Penn State's third Big Ten Player of the Year in just five seasons in the conference as sophomore Zemaitis captured the award.
"I want the players to have a good experience -- I want them to enjoy the many opportunities available at Penn State, but clearly I want them to know that they've come to a competitive, disciplined program and we're going to work hard," Rose said. "And without question have some fun along the way.
"I have been coaching at Penn State for a long time, but I don't want to take the major responsibility for the program's success because I know one thing for sure, and that is you can't get where we are today without the total support of the administration. You need to have good leadership and financial support to compete with the nation's elite.
"We're not fanatics, and I want the players to be happy. It goes without saying that it is easier to be happy when you're winning than when you're struggling. So, the staff and I will have to provide them with the necessary direction and opportunities to excel and hope they remain healthy enough to see if we can make a run at winning as many matches as possible."
That is something that has never been a problem for the coach. In his 33 seasons at Penn State, Rose's record is 1,058-172, an .860 winning percentage that places him first nationally among active coaches. His squads have secured 30 or more wins in a season 23 times and 36 or more victories seven times.
In 1994, Rose coached the Nittany Lions to a second straight NCAA national semifinal appearance and picked up his 500th career win early in the season. Placing second in the Big Ten with a 17-3 conference mark, the Nittany Lions posted a 31-4 ledger on the year and ended the regular-season ranked No. 5, at the time their highest regular-season finish ever. Season highlights included beating national runner-up and perennial powerhouse UCLA at the Volleyball Monthly Invitational and stunning No. 1-ranked and undefeated Nebraska in Lincoln in front of a full house at the NCAA Mideast Regional final to advance to their second straight national semifinal.
Rose's athletes have earned 65 First Team All-Big Ten honors in 21 years and have excelled off the court as well, earning 142 Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
Rose added to an already crowded trophy case by picking up the NCAA Mideast Region Coach of the Year honor for the fourth time.
Still, Rose has had more to do with Penn State's success on the court than he's willing to admit.
"I think that it's a reflection of my years of service and the caliber and commitment of players and staff we've attracted in the past," Rose said. "When you retire from coaching, people will look and see the success you had, but I'd like to be evaluated on the success of my players, their feel for their experience at Penn State and the growth that the program has had from the time I arrived here. We had three in-state scholarships and hand-me-down basketball jerseys when I arrived at Penn State. I think the growth and support of the program is more of a reflection of what I was hoping to accomplish when I arrived at Penn State."
Yet, the on-the-court accomplishments do speak volumes. In 1993, another dream season, the Nittany Lions surged into their third year of Big Ten play and won their second consecutive conference title. At the NCAA Tournament, the team strung together four victories and earned the right to play for the National Championship against Long Beach State. Rose puts the success in proper perspective.
"There are a large number of excellent coaches at great schools that have yet to break into the national semifinals. There are a small number of teams that have made it there, and fewer yet that have reached the final match. I won't look at it (reaching the final match) other than it was a great ride that the players took us on and it reinforced that there's validity to how I've run the program here at Penn State.
"The players need to understand what it takes to be successful and they need to have fun. We showed that winning can be fun and that it isn't necessary to change in a stressful environment. Every team starts with the same dream but few programs can really talk about competing for a chance to win a National Championship."
Rose's formula for success was recognized by the media and his coaching peers when he garnered the triple-crown of coaching accolades in 1993 as he did in 1990. Volleyball Monthly named Rose the National Coach of the Year and he also was picked as the NCAA Mideast Region and the Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year.
It was the second time Rose was honored nationally (1990), and the second straight year the Big Ten voted for the Nittany Lion leader. In addition, he was awarded Northeast Region Coach of the Year four times, the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year six times and was District II's top coach in 1996.
"Coach is a great guy," confided three time All-American Salima (Davidson) Rockwell, who spent time as the captain and starting setter on the U.S. National Team. "He's very straight-forward and to the point, which is what I like. The thing about him is that you can talk to him and he can help you with any problems you might have. Then, on the court, he's all business. I like that combination."
So does former Nittany Lion outside hitter and former volunteer assistant coach Jen Reimers. "You learn how to be a better person and a better player," she said about Rose's teaching ability. "You learn how to work with everybody else."
"I like the fact that he comes out and tells you exactly how it is," said Penn State All-American Laura Cook (1991-94). "He bases a lot of our experience on the court to life and life after volleyball."
"I really enjoyed the experience I had while playing for Coach Rose," said All-American Katie Schumacher (1998-01). "I learned a lot, both on and off the court. He is a great teacher and is well-respected around the nation."
Many athletes have thrived under Rose's tutelage as witnessed by the 33 different All-Americans (earning 71 selections in all) and 29 first team All-Big Ten players (earning 65 selections in all) he has coached. In 1999, Lauren Cacciamani was named Big Ten Player of the Year, the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year and the Honda Award winner. Bonnie Bremner and Katie Schumacher joined Cacciamani as All-Big Ten selections in 1999. Bremner won back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year honors in 1997 and 1998. Amanda Rome and Carrie Schonveld were recognized with honorable mention All-Big Ten status, while Mishka Levy was named to the conference's All-Freshman squad. Penn State also placed six players on the Academic All-Big Ten Team in 1999, as Bremner, Cacciamani, Kalna Miller, Schonveld, Rome and Dawn Ippolito were honored.
In 2000, Schumacher repeated as an All-Big Ten performer, while Levy earned first-team status for the initial time in her career. Amanda Rome was recognized with honorable mention all-conference status after helping lead Penn State to a 30-6 record and its 11th consecutive NCAA regional appearance in 2000. In addition, Rome, Ippolito, Shannon Bortner, Robyn Guokas, Erin Iceman and Hilary Sexton were named Academic All-Big Ten.
Even with its 22-8 season in 2001, Penn State advanced to the NCAA Tournament and garnered 20 wins in a season for the 26th straight year. Schumacher earned first team All-Big Ten honors while Levy picked up honorable mention accolades. Seven Lions earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition during the 2001 campaign. Rome, Iceman, Guokas, Bortner, Sexton, Tabitha Eshleman and Emily Gerega were all recognized for their scholastic and athletic achievements.
In 2002, Rose led a young squad with a freshman setter to a second place finish in the conference and the school's 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament. Freshman Sam Tortorello earned Penn State's second ever Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolade and junior Cara Smith picked up second team All-America honors after leading the nation in hitting percentage for most of the season. The Nittany Lions also excelled in the classroom, with a conference-high nine athletes garnering Academic All-Big Ten honors.
The squad picked up its seventh Big Ten title in 2003 with a team that was picked to finish second in the conference preseason poll. Seniors Cara Smith and Erin Iceman and sophomore Sam Tortorello were named first team All-Big Ten on a squad that finished 17-3 in league play to earn its 23rd consecutive NCAA berth. Freshman Cassy Salyer earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and Rose was honored with his sixth Big Ten Coach of the Year accolade. Penn State advanced to the NCAA Regional Final match at Florida, falling to the Gators in three games.
Smith, Tortorello and Iceman picked up AVCA All-America honors with Smith earning first team accolades, Tortorello being named to the second team and Iceman picking up honorable mention honors.
Again picked to finish second in the Big Ten in 2004, Rose's squad ended the non-conference portion of their schedule with an unblemished 9-0 record that included a come-from-behind five-game victory at eventual-National Champion Stanford. Top-ranked Minnesota handed the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season in five games at Rec Hall and just five matches later, No. 7 Ohio State also defeated Penn State at home in five games. With a renewed sense of pride following the two losses at home, the Nittany Lions caught fire and won their next 11 matches, including four-game wins over the Gophers and Buckeyes. A three-game win at Michigan on Nov. 27 gave Rose and the Nittany Lions their eighth Big Ten title in 14 years and advanced them to their 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament, where they fell to UCLA at the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Seattle, Wash.
Sam Tortorello and Syndie Nadeau earned AVCA All-America honors as Tortorello was named to the first team and Nadeau picked up second team accolades. Libero Kaleena Walters joined Tortorello and Nadeau on the All-Big Ten squad as Kate Price was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Tortorello was also a finalist for the Honda Award, given to the top female collegiate athlete in the country in each sport. Penn State produced four Academic All-Big Ten honorees that year.
The streak continued as the Nittany Lions claimed their third consecutive Big Ten title with an unblemished 20-0 league record in 2005, only the sixth time since 1985 that the champion had been perfect. In addition to dropping only three individual games during the conference season, Penn State swept all four major honors. Rose earned his seventh Big Ten Coach of the Year award as Sam Tortorello was named the Player of the Year, Kaleena Walters earned Defensive Player of the Year honors and Nicole Fawcett was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year.
On the national scale, Fawcett earned AVCA National Freshman of the Year and AVCA Second Team All-America accolades as Tortorello was named an AVCA First Team All-American, Melissa Walbridge picked up Second Team honors and Walters and Christa Harmotto both earned honorable mention recognition. Tortorello was also a finalist for the Honda Award for the second time.
Penn State made league history with the 2006 season, capturing its fourth consecutive outright title, the first time in Big Ten annals one team had done so. The Nittany Lions finished with an 18-2 league record and an overall record of 32-3, falling to defending national champion Washington in Seattle, Wash., in the NCAA Regional Finals. Megan Hodge made some history of her own, becoming the first freshman in conference history to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, also earning AVCA First Team All-America honors along with being named Big Ten and AVCA National Freshman of the Year. Joining her in garnering conference and national recognition were Nicole Fawcett and Christa Harmotto, who both earned First Team All-Big Ten honors, as Fawcett was named an AVCA First Team All-American and Harmotto picked up Second Team accolades. The Nittany Lions also produced a league-best 10 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
Prior to entering the tough Big Ten Conference in 1991, Penn State experienced unprecedented success in the Atlantic 10 Conference, winning eight straight championships. In seven seasons of round-robin play, the Nittany Lions never lost a conference match, reeling off 49 consecutive wins. The 1990 season was Penn State's last in the Atlantic 10 and it proved to be one of the most exciting in the 25-year history of the program.
Unbeaten in 42 regular-season matches, the Nittany Lions swept Purdue and Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Of the team's 44 wins, 40 were sweeps, a school and national record. Penn State, 12-0 against NCAA Tournament teams, lost to Nebraska in four games in the Mideast Region championship match in Lincoln.
Penn State finished sixth in the final 1990 Tachikara Coaches Poll, the program's highest final ranking ever at the time and the AVCA and Volleyball Monthly named three Nittany Lions --Jo Ann Elwell, Michelle Jaworski and Noelle Zientara -- All-Americans.
An 11-time nominee for National Coach of the Year, Rose garnered the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award in 1984, `85, `87, `88, `89 and `90.
Throughout his career, Rose has been called upon to share his expertise with the coaches and players who represent the United States in international competition. In 1989, he was an assistant coach with the United States men's national team for an exhibition series with Canada and the Soviet Union. His work on the international scene was to have continued in July of that year, but personal commitments and time constraints prevented him from accepting the position as head coach of the U.S. women's team to the Maccabiah Games.
In 1990, Rose worked with members of the men's national and developmental teams during training camp in San Diego. In 1993, he assisted in the U.S. men's matches with Canada and the women's team against China. He also assisted the U.S. men as they prepared for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
In the summer of 2002, Rose assisted the U.S. men's team on a 13-day tour of Italy where the athletes competed against the world's top teams, including Brazil, Italy, Yugoslavia, Russia and Holland. He also served as team manager for the U.S. men's team at the Four Nations Tournament in Leipzig, Germany, in May of 2008 and was an honorary chair for the 2010 State games.
An instructor in the USVBA coaches certification program, Rose has previously served as a national referee and evaluator and state director for volleyball for the Special Olympics.
In 2005, USA Volleyball named Rose one of their All-Time Great Coaches, making him the first Big Ten coach to ever receive the honor and putting him in the company of the best volleyball coaches in history, including previous Olympic coaches as well as many of their peers.
In June 2011, Rose served as the team leader to the U.S. Women's National Team at the Montreux Volley Masters in Montreux, Switzerland. He joined three former Nittany Lions, Megan Hodge, Alish Glass and Nicole Fawcett. The squad went 2-1 in pool play and finished fourth place overall.
Rose was a member of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Committee for six years and the NCAA representative to the United States Volleyball Association Rules Committee. Rose served as head coach of the U.S. men's team, which won the bronze medal at the 1985 Maccabiah Games, and the U.S. women's silver medal team in the 1981 Maccabiah Games. He won bronze medals as an assistant coach of the women's team in the 1982 National Sports Festival and as the East women's head coach at the 1983 Festival.
An active clinician, Rose also coached professional men's volleyball in the Superior League in Puerto Rico in 1976 and has continued to do clinics on the island as well as in the United States.
Players are not the only ones to benefit from Rose's tutelage. More than 25 individuals within the college coaching fraternity have gained instruction from Rose.
A 1975 graduate of George Williams College, Rose was a member of the school's team that won the 1974 National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics national championship. He was the captain of the 1975 team that finished third in NAIA competition.
After graduation, Rose remained at George Williams for two years as a part-time coach, helping the women's team win two state titles and place sixth in national competition. He also assisted the men's team that won the national championship in 1977.
In 1978, he completed his master's degree at Nebraska, where he was the defensive coach for the Cornhusker women. While writing his thesis on volleyball statistics, he led the second team to a two-year varsity mark of 52-5.
A 2010 inductee into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Rose married Lori Barberich, a former three-time All-American at Penn State, in 1986. They are the parents of four sons, Jonathan, Michael, Christopher and Nicholas.