If you’re on the opposite side of the net and Micha Hancock is serving, you better be ready for a rocket.
From the time she holds the ball out in her right hand, to the high-twisting toss, to the point of impact when her left hand makes contact with the ball –– if you’re on the receiving end, it’s advised that you are light on your feet.
There’s a reason that the sophomore setter has been top in the nation in serving both of her years as a Nittany Lion, and she displayed a little bit of that pizzazz this past weekend in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Friday night against Binghamton, Hancock put on a show for the fans at Rec Hall in the second set, showcasing why she ranks third in the country in terms of aces per set at .65.
After a Deja McClendon kill, Hancock rattled off three-straight service aces and paired with two more McClendon kills, quickly forced Bearcat head coach Glenn Kiriyama to summon his squad to the bench for a pep talk facing a 6-0 deficit.
Hancock continued to pepper the rock over the net out of the timeout and eventually switched to her second serve, but still the Lions had not dropped a point —14-0, 15-0, 16-0, the streak continued to climb. Eventually, the phenomenon climaxed at 21-0 and the Bearcats had finally scored their first point of the set, 21-1.
“It was pretty tough, she’s a really good server,” said Bearcat senior outside hitter Iva Partaleva of Hancock’s serving. “We just had trouble and the crowd was just supporting her, too.”
The crowd gave Hancock and the Lions a thunderous applause before the squad closed out the set, 25-3. They went on to win the match 3-0 with ease behind the 10 service aces from Hancock –– a career-high for the Edmond, Okla. native.
“It was a match that kind of got away from Binghamton with Micha’s serve in the second game, it just kind of tailed off at that point in time,” said Lions head coach Russ Rose. “She was in a good rhythm, they were kind of struggling with that.”
Saturday night Hancock and the Lions continued their strong serving, this time against Bowling Green in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
It was not as dominant as the 21-0 run the previous night, but still the Lions created problems for their opposition behind the service line.
Led by Hancock’s five aces, the squad rattled off 10 on the night en route to the 3-0 victory over the Falcons –– it was the team’s 23rd clean sweep of the year and its seventh-consecutive mark at home.
“We knew that she has a really tough serve with a spin, so we knew that was going to be tough,” said Falcons’ head coach Danijela Tomic. “She had five aces, but we struggled with the floaters, serves that we see every day in practice. We knew Hancock was going to get her aces, we expected that, but didn’t manage well with the rest of the servers.”