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Oct. 15, 2012
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From one night to the next, a team of Division I athletes will do whatever it takes to win a contest. And sometimes, when more than one match is played in the same weekend, a squad can perform two completely different ways and still come out with the win.
That was the case for the top-ranked Nittany Lions this past weekend.
Penn State swept No. 17 Purdue on Friday night in Rec Hall behind a strong offensive performance and an equally strong defensive performance. The Lions hit a team average of .393 against the Boilermakers and put up 9.5 blocks at the net.
After the match, Penn State head coach Russ Rose gave a nod to his team's all-around hitting performance, good passing and effective communication.
All in all, the Lions played a clean match and made a statement against a good team.
On Saturday night, the Nittany Lions didn't play nearly as cleanly but they still came away with a victory.
Penn State dropped the first set of the night against the Hoosiers after Indiana took an early lead. The Lions went on to win the next three and take the match, but hit just .197 as a team against their Big Ten competitors.
Rose noticed the change in demeanor of his team from one night to the next too, but said he was ultimately pleased with the outcome.
"If you don't play your best and you win, you feel fortunate about that," said Rose. "You try and pick up the cues that are going to make you a better team in the future, a better teammate, and you go on from there."
And the statistics show that what held the team together was the all-around effort of the entire squad on the weekend. Collectively, the Lions put up 25 blocks, dealt eight service aces and put down 94 kills in the two conference matches. Six of the 13 Nittany Lions registered double-digit kills in the weekend as well.
"I think it's a team game and all the kids are good kids," said Rose. "They want to do well for the team, I don't any of them think it's about themselves, I think they know it's a team game."
With back-to-back wins on their home court, Penn State holds onto its top-ranked spot and improves to 8-0 in the Big Ten.
The Lions are a little more than halfway through the regular season and have 12 more matches left to play. At the end of the weekend, Rose said that he is confident that his team can handle the pressure of a Division I schedule.
"Every time we play we get some opportunities to see things we need to get better at," said Rose.
"It's a long season and when you have a team that's mentally tough with broad shoulders, they can handle all the expectations and they get better and they can keep going along."