Despite being deemed the No. 1 team in the nation Monday, Penn State women’s volleyball [12-1, 2-0] will likely face adversity in tackling two Big Ten foes on the road this weekend.
This will mark the first time freshmen Megan Courtney, Lara Caraway and Kendall Pierce face Big Ten competition on the road.
To make matters worse, the Nittany Lions will be facing co-Big Ten frontrunner, No. 10 Minnesota (11-2, 2-0) and Wisconsin (13-2, 1-1).
Both campuses are expected to bring raucous crowds, with Minnesota and Wisconsin respectively ranking No. 5 and 7 in 2012 home attendance.
All-American Deja McClendon said her advice to the rookies is preparation.
“Be prepared to play in front of a big, loud crowd,” McClendon said when asked what advice she would share with Courtney. “[The crowd] is definitely going to be right on top of us.”
Courtney has played a large part in the Lions’ success this season, recording 78 kills in 13 matches — 12 of which she started.
“I think the away tournaments that we had earlier this year really helped,” Courtney said. “I like playing in crowds, whether it’s home or away, they don’t bother me. I don’t think it’s a problem.”
During those matches Penn State played early in Louisville and Chicago, the team tallied five wins, but also its lone loss.
Ironically, one of Courtney’s best performances on the road this season came in the loss against Oregon State. In the match, the freshman registered nine kills and 14 digs.
To balance out the inexperience Courtney has in Big Ten road play, many teammates, including McClendon, Ariel Scott and Katie Slay, have not only competed on the road, but were members of the 2010 National Championship team.
Coach Russ Rose faced the question of his players’ preparedness with skepticism.
“Even if you have three or four players returning from last year, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to play on the road,” Rose said.
However, Rose said despite Courtney’s inexperience with the college game, he is not overly worried about her transition to the Big Ten road experience.
“You worry about how everybody plays, but the freshmen have less experience in the demands and how you conduct your business on the road in the Big Ten,” Rose said. “But I don’t look at it and say, “Oh my God, I have to worry about Megan,” because Megan has played a lot of volleyball.”
Courtney went on to say she knows the away crowd will not bother her on the inside, but as far how it affects her play on the court, she said she doesn’t know.
“The crowds will be good. The teams will be good, but it’s just volleyball,” Courtney said.
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