Mishaps and blunders are bound to happen, but excessive amounts of the two are not things that will bring a smile to a coach’s face.
Especially when that coach is Russ Rose.
The 34-year veteran Penn State women’s volleyball coach knows what it takes to win, and all of the trophies, plaques and championship photos outside of his office in Rec Hall are reminders of his accomplishments.
But those accolades were not just handed to him. They were earned –– not only by Rose, but also by the teams he has coached.
If the 2012 Nittany Lions want to join the ranks of being remembered as one of the program’s most successful teams, they are going to need to take care of the ball.
For the past couple weeks, Rose has not been pleased with how his team has been performing in matches and wants to see the number of errors –– both from behind the service line and when the ball is in play –– drastically minimized. Despite taking over the No. 1 national ranking and winning 12 of their first 13 matches, Rose wants the Lions to learn from their mistakes.
“You can say when you don’t play well, you feel fortunate that you win,” Rose said. “I prefer to look at it as there’s a lot of lessons to learn about how well the other team played.”
In their last match, the Lions (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten) defeated Iowa 3-1 but committed 21 attacking errors and eight service errors along the way. It was the fourth time this season that the squad had committed 20 attack errors or more in a match.
Members of the team said Rose tells them in practice if they are doing something wrong and if so, how to correct it. They just need to be able to transition their play in practice over to the matches.
“[Coach] tells us a million times at practice what we need to do,” junior outside hitter Deja McClendon said. “Everyone knows or should know what they have to do, especially in a game.”
If the team can clean up its play a little, there’s no reason the Lions cannot make a run at the program’s sixth national title. The squad is 3-0 against teams that are ranked in the top 10 and have only dropped one match thus far –– something the 2010 national championship team did twice in its first 12 matches.
Compared to that championship team, the 2012 Lions commit just 1.15 more errors per match and are even with .80 errors per set on service receptions.
Improving and tightening up are something the Lions are going to have to do both collectively as a team but also individually, as well.
“If you play well and you’re not at your best, and you’re fortunate enough to win, then hopefully you get better, and you take care of yourself,” Rose said.