Sept. 4, 2014
BIG TEN/PAC-12 CHALLENGE
|Friday, Sept. 5 - Saturday, Sept. 6
|Maples Pavilion | Palo Alto, Calif.
|Game Day Information: Tickets
NO. 1 PENN STATE VS. UCLA
|Saturday, Sept. 6 - 8 p.m. ET | Maples Pavilion
|Bruins Links: Notes | Stats
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off of a 3-0 opening weekend at home, No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball (3-0) is set to compete in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. The Nittany Lions open the weekend with a matchup against No. 2 Stanford (2-0) Friday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m. ET before taking on UCLA (2-1) Saturday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. ET. Friday's matchup against the Cardinal will broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network with Holly McPeak and Krista Blunk on the call.
IT'S A WRAP: PENN STATE CLASSIC IN REVIEW
Penn State women's volleyball improved to 3-0 on the year after claiming the Penn State Classic crown last weekend. The Nittany Lions cruised past TCU, Iona and William & Mary all by way of straight set victories. Led by returning first team AVCA All-American Micha Hancock, the senior setter paced the Nittany Lions to a .436 hitting clip on the week, which ranks first in the Big Ten. Penn State also limited its opponents to a conference best .009 hitting clip last weekend, holding both Iona and William & Mary to negative efficiency in back-to-back matches.
Penn State powered past the three teams with a balanced performance from both veteran leaders as well as powerful newcomers. Heading into the week, junior Megan Courtney and freshman Ali Frantti are both ranked within the Big Ten's top 10 in hitting percentage.
LAST TIME OUT: STANFORD & UCLA
The last time Penn State and Stanford met, the Nittany Lions battled to a thrilling 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 18-25, 15-11) victory against the Cardinal in the 2013 Lexington NCAA regional finals to advance to the national semifinals. In the most recent clash between Penn State and UCLA, the Bruins knocked off the Nittany Lions in straight sets in the 2011 Lexington NCAA regional semifinals on their way to an eventual national championship title.
WEEK 2: AVCA TOP 25 COACHES POLL UPDATE
Following a 3-0 opening weekend at home, Penn State earned the No. 1 overall ranking in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll for the second consecutive week. The Nittany Lions earned 35 of a possible 60 first place votes, which is three more than PSU earned in the preseason poll.
TRIO EARN PENN STATE CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS
Following back-to-back double-digit kill performances in her first two collegiate matches, freshman Ali Frantti earned Penn State Classic Most Outstanding Player honors. Senior Micha Hancock and junior Megan Courtney each earned spots on the All-Tournament team for their performances during the undefeated weekend.
Hancock directed the Nittany Lions to a conference-high .436 hitting clip during the week, while also pacing Frantti (.482) and Courtney (.500) to a pair of Big Ten top-five hitting clips. Hancock's 11.33 assists per set ranks third in the league. Frantti finished the week averaging 3.44 kills per set, while Courtney closed out the slate ranked second on the team with 3.11 kills per frame.
FORCE OF THE FROSH
Four freshman made their collegiate debuts for Penn State last weekend, including Ali Frantti, Heidi Thelen, Simone Lee and Lainy Pierce. Frantti led the team in kills in back-to-back matches against TCU and Iona, while also tying for first on the team in blocks against William & Mary. Thelen made her debut against the Gaels, leading the team in blocks (3), while also tallying six kills. Lee saw action against TCU and William & Mary, posting a team-high 10 kills against the Tribe to mark her first collegiate double-digit kill performance. She also notched four digs and one solo stuff.
ROSE APPROACHING A HISTORIC MARK
In 2013, head coach Russ Rose earned his 1,107th victory with a straight-set win at Northwestern, moving him into sole possession of second place on the NCAA DI career wins list. With the triumph, he passed former UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski, who previously owned the record.
With 1,128 wins, Rose is presently two wins shy of tying current Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji for first on the all-time list with 1,130 victories. Rose currently owns the all-time record for NCAA DI career winning percentage, having posted a career clip of .864 in the past 35 seasons. Both Rose and Shoji are the only two NCAA DI head coaches to have more than 1,000 career wins. The two are also one of just three active NCAA head coaches in all three divisions to have more than 1,100 career wins.
HANCOCK ATOP THE SERVING ALL-TIME LIST
Averaging 0.65 aces per set in 2013, Micha Hancock finished last year ranked second nationally in aces per set. Her mark also ranked first in the Big Ten. The impressive serving also set a new program record. With four aces against Eastern Kentucky, Hancock notched her 200th career service ace. Building on the mark throughout the season she moved into sole possession of first place on the Penn State all-time list with 254 aces on the year to surpass Ellen Hensler, who set the record in 1986. With three aces in 2014, Hancock has improved her mark to 257 aces all-time to keep a firm hold on her all-time record.
Penn State returns home from the west coast next weekend but remains on the road, traveling to Villanova to compete in the Villanova Classic. While in Philadelphia, the Nittany Lions square off against Yale, American, Kansas as well as the tournament host Wildcats Sept.12-13.