Oct. 31, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Ranked No. 2 in the nation for the second consecutive week, the Penn State women's volleyball team (18-2, 9-1) opens the second half of the Big Ten slate this weekend, traveling to No. 17 Michigan (14-7, 4-6) and No. 14 Michigan State (17-5,6-4) for a pair of conference matchups.
The Nittany Lions will look to extend their nine-match winning streak, taking on the Wolverines Friday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m., before facing the Spartans Saturday, Nov. 2 at 8:30 p.m. Both matches will broadcast live on the Big Ten Network with Mike Wolf and Audrey Flaugh on the call.
PENN STATE VS. MICHIGAN
Penn State holds a 43-3 all-time advantage against the Wolverines, having most recently extended its winning streak to 20 consecutive matches. Earlier this season, the Nittany Lions captured a four-set victory against Michigan at home in Rec Hall to keep the streak alive. Of the 46 total matches played between both teams, just 11 have gone more than three sets, with Penn State posting the eventual win in eight of the close encounters.
TAKE TWO: MICHIGAN
The Wolverines will enter this weekend's match looking to bounce back from a four-set loss to then-No.12 Purdue. Prior to loss against the Boilermakers, Michigan captured a 3-1 victory against in-state conference rival then-No. 10 Michigan State. After splitting last weekend's Big Ten slate, the Wolverines are 14-7 overall and 4-6 in the conference. Setter Lexi Dannemiller has paced the Michigan offense to a .245 hitting percentage this season, distributing 10.72 assists per set, which ranks third in the Big Ten.
The Michigan offense presently consists of a core group of five attackers who are averaging more than 2.00 kills per set, led by Lexi Erwin who's averaging 3.20 per frame. Close behind is Jennifer Cross, who's averaging 2.94 kills per set, while also leading the team with a .342 attacking percentage, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten. On the defensive side, libero Tiffany Morales has tallied 323 digs in 2013, averaging 3.99 per frame, which ranks fifth in the league.
The Last Meeting
September 28, 2013
University Park, Pa.
McClendon Lifts Penn State Past Michigan in Four
RECAP: Senior Deja McClendon led the top-ranked Nittany Lions to a 3-1 win against No. 10 Michigan with a double-double. With the win, Penn State improves to 24-0 at home against the Wolverines.
PENN STATE VS. MICHIGAN STATE
The Nittany Lions own a 37-7 record in the all-time series against the Spartans. In the most recent outing between the two clubs, Michigan State edged Penn State in a tough five-set loss at home, putting an end to an 18-match winning streak, which dated back to Sept. 26, 2003. Prior to the loss, Penn State had not dropped a single decision to the Spartans in Rec Hall since Nov. 17,2001.
REMATCH WITH THE SPARTANS
Michigan State enters a fresh week looking to halt a four-match losing streak that includes losses to then-No. 10 Minnesota, then-No. 15 Wisconsin, then-No. 17 Michigan and Indiana. Prior to the skid, the Spartans had posted wins in the last 15 consecutive matches. MSU hosts Ohio State Friday, Nov. 2 before taking on the Nittany Lions Saturday, Nov. 1 at Jenison.
Lauren Wicinski and Alexis Matthews are the helm of the Spartan offense. Wicinski is leading the squad with 4.45 kills per set, which ranks 19th nationally and third in the Big Ten. Matthews' team-best .427 hitting clip ranks 14th in the nation and leads the conference. Matthews is a force above the next, having tallied 119 total blocks in 2013, while also averaging 1.53 per frame, which is sixth in the nation and second in the league. Libero Kori Moster is anchoring the Spartan defense with 4.65 digs per set, which is also atop the conference standings.
1,109 WINS AND COUNTING
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 number 1,107 at Northwestern. With the triumph, Rose passed former UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski, who previously owned the record.
With 1,109 wins, Rose is presently 10 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 claim the top spot as the newest 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.
McCLENDON JOINS ELITE GROUP
Recording 10 digs against the Hawkeyes last weekend, senior Deja McClendon registered her 1,004th career dig to eclipse the 1,000 career kills/1,000 career digs mark. With 1,431 all-time kills and 1,004 digs, McClendon is the first Nittany Lion to reach the milestone mark since Megan Hodge in 2009 (2,142k/1,150d) and the fifth in program history.
NITTANY LIONS REMAIN NO. 2 IN AVCA TOP 25 POLL
After securing two Big Ten wins at home against Ohio State and Iowa, Penn State remained at No. 2 in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll. This is the second consecutive week the Nittany Lions have been ranked No. 2, having previously spent two weeks at No. 4. Penn State has 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. PSU has spent three weeks at the No. 1 position this season, including two consecutive weeks from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30.
HANCOCK RETURNS AS NCAA LEADER IN ACES PER SET
After totaling 11 aces last weekend, including eight against Iowa, junior Micha Hancock is back leading the nation in aces per set, averaging 0.77 per frame. The mark is also the best in the Big Ten. Previously, Hancock spent the last two weeks ranked second, after having led the nation in the category for five consecutive weeks.
With four aces against Eastern Kentucky, Hancock notched her 200th career service ace. Since then, she's improved her mark to 227 aces, which puts her just eight shy of tying Ellen Hensler (1983-86) for first on the PSU all-time list.
CAN'T TOUCH THIS
In the match against Indiana, the Nittany Lions posted a .506 hitting percentage against the Hoosiers, which is the highest PSU has hit against a league opponent so far this season. Penn State registered a .385 attacking percentage at Northwestern, before hitting .458 against Iowa, rounding out the top three highest hitting clips PSU has put together against Big Ten teams this season.
Overall, the Nittany Lions have held their opponents to a .127 overall hitting percentage, which ranks first in the conference. No Big Ten team other than Michigan State has been able to hit better than .244, which is the attacking percentage the Spartans posted in a 3-2 win against Penn State. Texas is the only squad to out-hit Penn State in a match this season, having posted a .262 clip in a five-set victory.
WHO SAYS 40'S BAD?
Penn State has held seven of its 20 opponents to 40 or fewer total points in seven matches this season. In non-conference play, the Nittany Lions played four consecutive matches surrendering no more than 40 points in a match, including Florida Gulf Coast (40), Albany (18), Eastern Kentucky (37) and Yale (39). In conference play, PSU has limited three teams to less than 40 points per match, including Indiana (37), Ohio State (36) and Iowa (27). The 27 total points against the Hawkeyes marks the fewest number of points Penn State has surrendered to a Big Ten opponent since 25-point set scoring began in 2008.
BOOTIN' THE BUCKEYES AND CAGING THE HAWKEYES
Penn State limited No. 24 Ohio State to a -.030 hitting clip, surrendering less than 10 kills in sets one and two, including just four in the first frame. The mark is the first time the Lions have held a Big Ten opponent to a negative attacking percentage since Nov. 5, 2008, when PSU limited Indiana to a -.020 clip in a 3-0 victory at Rec Hall.
In the next PSU outing, the Nittany Lions held Iowa to a -.047 hitting percentage, marking the first time Penn State has held back-to-back Big Ten teams to a negative attacking clip since 2005. During the 2005 season, Illinois and Minnesota hit -.020 and -.043, respectively in a pair of conference matches Nov. 12 and Nov. 18.
THAT'S SOME HEAVY HITTING
As a team, Penn State's .319 hitting percentage ranks fourth in the nation and stands alone atop the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions are also registering 13.70 kills per set, which is good for 52nd in the country and second in the Big Ten. Individually, senior Katie Slay's .420 hitting clip is ranked 16th in the nation and second in the conference. Just behind Slay is junior Nia Grant, who's .415 attacking percentage ranks 17th nationally and third in the league.
BLOCK IT UP
Overall, Penn State's 2.95 blocks per set ranks seventh nationally, while also leading the conference. Katie Slay is also at the helm of the Nittany Lion blocking unit, averaging 1.59 per frame, which ranks third in the nation and also leads the Big Ten.
A CLEAN SWEEP
Penn State registered its 14th straight-set victory of the season against Iowa last weekend. Among the 20 matches the Nittany Lions have played this season, 14 of the 18 victories or 77 percent have been by a score of 3-0. Of the 14 sweeps, nine of them were against non-conference foes, while five have come against Big Ten teams.
GOTTA PLAY THE BEST TO BE THE BEST
Of the 20 matches Penn State has played this year, the Nittany Lions have compiled an 8-2 record against ranked opponents this season, which includes matchups against three non-conference teams and seven from the Big Ten.
Penn State returns home from the road to host Purdue and Indiana in back-to-back matches set for Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov 9. First serve for both contests is slated for 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions will host THON Night on Friday against the Boilermakers. Children 12 and under can earn free admission to the match by coloring one of the Penn State coloring pages from the PSU Facebook page and bringing it with them to the door. Saturday evening, Penn State will host Juvenile Diabetes Awareness Night to generate support for the cause.