After building a comfortable cushion between itself and the competition, the Penn State women’s volleyball team (21-2, 11-1 Big Ten) saw its ranking tumble two spots after losing to Nebraska on Sunday.
Unseating the Nittany Lions — who dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 — atop the coaches’ poll is new-No. 1 Stanford (20-2, 12-0 Pac 12).
While one might imagine disappointment abound after a fall from the top, coach Russ Rose and his players are not phased when asked if the drop even matters.
“I don’t like rankings because anyone can beat anyone on a night, and it’s just a number,” said outside hitter Megan Courtney. “[Who number one is] doesn’t really matter until we get to December.”
When factoring in Penn State’s superior winning percentage and win against Stanford in late August, the Lions may even have a legitimate case to be the No. 1 team.
That’s not the way Rose sees it.
Rose said he has not voted his team the nation’s best since “a few years back” when the Lions won four straight championships (2007-2010).
While the veteran coach said he has not voted his team No. 1 yet this season, he did not rule out the possibility that his team was, in fact, playing better than any other team in the country.
“I didn’t vote us number one during that stretch because I was watching some other matches from the West Coast, and I thought the Pac-12 teams that I saw were playing better,” Rose said.
According to NCAA’s RPI, the Big Ten and Pac-12 are dead even, tied with five teams in the top 25. The RPI also lists Stanford as No. 1, but has Penn State No. 2.
Rose and emerging outside hitter Nia Grant said they expected to drop in the polls.
However, the sophomore is holding out hope the Lions can prove themselves to be a championship team before it’s too late.
“I feel like we still are a top team,” Grant said, emphasizing she meant “a” top team and not “the” top team.
“But we still have a lot of things to work at, and I think we can be number one.”
Penn State held down the top spot in the country for about one month — from the week of Sept. 24 through Monday.
The key to reaching the peak of the mountain before the season closes lies in attitude and dedication, according to Courtney.
“We’re still going to train like we’re in the second place to get to the number one,” Courtney said.