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Oct. 22, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Penn State women's volleyball team (16-2, 7-1) looks to remain atop the conference standings this week, taking on No. 24 Ohio State (14-6, 2-6) in a mid-week matchup set for Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.
The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes will face off live on ESPN3, with Karch Kairly and Sam Gore on the call. The match will also be re-aired on ESPN2, Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.
Penn State will host its annual Dig Pink match during Wednesday's contest to benefit the Side-Out Foundations. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and donate to the Penn State women's volleyball campaign. Donations can be made online at https://www.side-out.org/cb/campaigns/edit_campaign_page/6869 Pink shirts will be distributed to the first 200 students entering the match.
PENN STATE VS. OHIO STATE
The Nittany Lions have a 40-14 advantage in the all-time series against the Buckeyes. Penn State has claimed wins in the last 12 consecutive meetings with Ohio State, with the most recent loss dating back to Nov. 8, 2006. Within the 12-match span of victories, PSU has posted 3-0 sweeps in all but two of the outings. Last year, Penn State took home straight set wins in both outings.
SCOUTING THE BUCKEYES
No. 24 Ohio State enters the week looking to snap a four-match skid, having most recently dropped a pair of four set matches on the road at Northwestern and Illinois. With the two losses, the Buckeyes moved to 14-6 on the year and dropped to 2-6 in the conference.
Kaitlyn Leary is leading the Ohio State offense, averaging 4.96 kills per set on .234 hitting. Leary also ranks third on the squad with 12 aces, 184 digs and 25 total blocks, including six solo blocks. Julianne Mandolfo and Davionna DiSalvatore are anchoring the defense with 230 or more blocks each, led by DiSalvatore, whose tallied 260, averaging 3.51 per frame. Above the net Taylor Sandbothe is leading the Buckeye blocking with 81 total blocks, including 22 solo blocks, averaging 1.08 per set.
WEEKEND IN REVIEW
Penn State extended its winning streak to seven straight matches last weekend, picking up a pair of road wins at Illinois and Northwestern. The Nittany Lions battled to a close 3-2 victory at Illinois before concluding the weekend with sweep at Northwestern.
At Northwestern, the Nittany lions posted a .385 hitting percentage which is the second best attacking percentage against a Big Ten opponent. Penn State also surrendered just 49 points against the Wildcats, which is four shy of the previous low against a conference opponent that PSU set at Indiana. Penn State did not allow NU a single block in the three-set match, which marks the first time the Lions have held a league opponent to 0.0 total blocks since Nov. 4, 2011, when then-No. 15 Minnesota did not record a block in 3-0 PSU sweep.
ROSE EARNS HISTORIC WIN, MOVING TO NO. 2 IN ALL-TIME WINS CATEGORY
After earning victory number 1,100 against Yale earlier this season, head coach Russ Rose moved into sole possession of second place on the NCAA DI wins list with victory No. 1,107 at Northwestern. With the victory, Rose passed former UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski, who previously owned the record.
Rose is now 12 wins shy of matching current Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji for first on the all-time list with 1,119 career wins. Earlier this season, Shoji surpassed Banachowski to become the all-time leader in the category. With both Rose and Shoji still active, the two will continue to go head-to-head, battling for the top spot.
After racking up a pair of Big Ten wins on the road, Penn State moved up two spots to No. 2 in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll. Prior to the jump, PSU spent the last two weeks ranked fourth. The Nittany Lions have been ranked within the top five in every poll so far this season.
Last year, Penn State spent six weeks atop the standings, including five consecutive weeks from Sept. 24 to Oct.22, before earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Nov. 9. The No. 1 ranking marks the 78th time in program history that Penn State has reached the top of the polls, having earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking Sept. 2, 1997. PSU has spent three weeks at No. 1 this season, including two straight weeks from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30.
AMONG THE BEST SERVERS IN THE NATION
Junior Micha Hancock is ranked second the nation in aces per set for the second consecutive week after leading the nation for the last five weeks straight, according the latest NCAA DI stats release. With a total of 44 aces this season, Hancock is averaging 0.68 per frame, which ranks first in the Big Ten.
With four aces against Eastern Kentucky, Hancock notched her 200th career service ace. Since then, she's improved her mark to 216 aces, which puts her just 19 shy of tying Ellen Hensler (1983-86) for first on the PSU all-time list.
BLOCK IT UP
Penn State has combined for 185.5 total blocks in 2013, including 51 solo blocks. As a team, the 2.85 average per set ranks 10th nationally and second in the Big Ten. Katie Slay is leading the PSU blocking effort with 1.57 blocks per frame, which ranks fourth in the nation and leads the conference.
THAT'S SOME HEAVY HITTING
As a team, Penn State's .314 overall hitting clip ranks fourth in the nation, while also ranking first in the Big Ten. Individually, Katie Slay's .424 overall hitting percentage ranks 13th in the nation and leads the conference. Behind Slay is Nia Grant, who jumped into the national rankings this week with a .407 hitting clip which is 20th nationally and third in the Big Ten.
A CLEAN SWEEP
At Northwestern, Penn State registered its 12th straight-set victory of the season. Of the 16 matches the Nittany Lions have won in 2013, 12 of the 16 wins or 79% have been by a score of 3-0. Of the 12 sweeps, nine of them were against non-conference foes, while three were against Big Ten opponents.
GOTTA PLAY THE BEST TO BE THE BEST
Penn State has compiled a 6-2 record against ranked opponents this season, featuring three non-conference foes and five within the Big Ten. Looking at the list overall, almost half of the matches the Lions have played this year have been against another ranked team (8-18).
Penn State remains home this weekend, welcoming Iowa to the court in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions will take on the Hawkeyes Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.