From yelling out defensive assignments to talking about transitioning into offense, Penn State is looking for more communication.
For the No. 4 team in the country, it would not seem like communication would be an issue, but the Nittany Lions (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) are seeking to have more of it on the court.
In practice the squad seems to be fine, but transitioning from its practice chitchat over to matches is where it seems to struggle. Junior outsider hitter Deja McClendon said she thinks making that transition is going to be key as the rest of the season unfolds.
“I think it gets quiet when we start losing and you can’t ever be quiet on the court,” McClendon said. “So to continue that good communication that we’ll have in practice in the game.
That lack of communication played a major role in the Lions’ loss this past weekend against Oregon State in the Chicago Classic.
In the 3-2 loss to the Beavers, the Lions committed 26 errors –– a season high –– compared to the 18 committed by their counterpart. The Lions committed eight errors in both the second and fourth sets, both of which they dropped 25-17. Limiting their mistakes is something that the team is looking to improve on in their next match.
Even though the team has not been communicating as well as coach Russ Rose would like, he is still optimistic they can improve.
“Well I don’t think they were very good last weekend [in Chicago],” Rose said. “They were better the weekend before at home and in spite of the fact that some of them played last year, it’s still a new group with different responsibilities. I think there will be some opportunities for them to get better.”
Of the 17 players that make up this year’s team, nine of them are either true sophomores or true freshmen.
As a result the younger players are going to have to mature more quickly if the team wants to do big things this year. Thus far, it seems as though they are looking to grow into leaders.
Despite only playing in one match and playing in four sets this season, redshirt sophomore Erica Denney leads the team, hitting at a .571 clip. She wants to take on more responsibility as a vocal leader and agrees that when times get tough, the squad needs to stick together.
“I think as a team we need to work just be able to hold it together as a group,” Denney said. “We can’t have people turning away, we can’t have one person’s maybe down attitude affect everyone else. We need to jump on it and change it and work from there.”
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