Russ Rose does not care about the logos on your socks.
Well, at least not the logos on volleyball players’ socks.
After earning more hardware –– the program’s 15th Big Ten championship title –– in his own plain white tube socks, the head coach still knows that there is more work to be done.
Aside from trying to decide where to put the program’s latest accolade –– a potentially challenging feat for a coach that has an office packed with trophies and memories –– he has an even more strenuous challenge awaiting him. Rose has to comprise multiple game plans to help the No. 1 Nittany Lions (29-2, 19-1 Big Ten) navigate their way through the NCAA tournament field, while the 63 other opponents aim to keep a fifth national title in the past six years from the Lions.
One way that Rose has helped lead his Lions to their ninth Big Ten crown in the last 10 years is through tough love, if you will, and he does not intend to change anything now.
Rose wants his players to learn through experience, not just through listening and because of that, he is often critical of his player’s performances. He wants them to continue to get better and not to be satisfied with a mediocre showing.
True freshman Megan Courtney is one of the Lions that Rose has been the toughest on all season. From the first time that the Dayton, Ohio native stepped foot onto campus, Rose has admitted to being exceptionally tough on her. Despite being one of the young guns, Courtney has embraced the challenge and her growth over the course of the season resembles that.
Having started in every match except for one, Courtney has continued to get better as the season progressed. In the final regular season match against Michigan State, a 3-0 Lions victory, Rose was very pleased with the outside hitter’s performance.
“I thought it was a great match by Megan,” Rose said. “I thought that was the best match that she’s played since she came here. [She] hit well, passed well and blocked especially well, so I thought that was a great match by her at a good time.”
Courtney paced the Lions with match-highs in kills and hitting percentage. Her nine kills and .529 clip led all players and she also contributed 3.5 blocks –– 1.5 more rejections than the entire Spartans team combined.
Now Courtney will look to continue her hot play as the Lions get ready to face Binghamton in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night at 7:30 in Rec Hall. With everyone else aiming to knock the Lions off of the chopping block, unity is one thing that will be important for the squad’s success.
“Going into the postseason all we have is each other and that’s about it because everyone is gunning for us,” Courtney said. “So we just have each other and each other’s backs.”