Following an unsatisfactory showing at the Chicago Classic this past weekend, Penn State women’s volleyball (7-1) is turning to its captains, coaches and all-around leaders for guidance in getting back on the right path.
Sandwiched in between wins against University of Illinois at Chicago and DePaul, the No. 2 Nittany Lions dropped a Saturday night match against unranked Oregon State.
As a result, Penn State fell to No. 4 in the national rankings Monday.
Behind the strength of team captains — sophomore Dominique Gonzalez, junior Katie Slay and senior Kristin Carpenter — the team is aiming to get back on track in time for this weekend’s Penn State Classic.
Ariel Scott, arguably the team’s most productive offensive player early in the 2012 season, voiced her confidence in the team’s captains.
“I know [Katie Slay] is in charge of the hitters, [Dominique Gonzalez] is in charge of passing and [Kristen Carpenter] kind of works as an all-around leader,” Scott said. “I think they’re doing a really good job in their roles.”
Head coach Russ Rose, 12-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, shed some insight on why the three were chosen as team captains.
“If you’re good at what you do, you have more likelihood that people will listen to you,” Rose said. “If you’re always shooting off your mouth and not doing what you do [well], you don’t get many peoples’ attention.”
While the aforementioned trio is listed as team captains, Rose said leaders emerge as the season progresses.
Co-captain and starting libero Gonzalez supported Rose’s thought of leaders emerging.
“There’s days, when somebody’s going to have a day when they’re not on and someone else has to step up and lead a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “As long as you’re on the court, you have some sort of leadership [duty].”
Rose did express a wish of being able to rotate team captains on a weekly basis, but noted Gonzalez, Slay and Carpenter have been doing a solid job in leading the team.
No gripes are being made about the captains in place, partly for their unselfish nature.
When Gonzalez was told she would be a team captain this season, her mind was not racing and thinking about the former captains who have gone on to enjoy eternal Penn State allure for guiding teams to national championships.
Rather, the sophomore thought of the implications her leadership would have on the team.
“I wasn’t really focused on being captain, I was just trying to be the best teammate I could possibly be,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully we’re doing a good job. And hopefully we are dependable.”
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