It’s not something that happened overnight. It has taken time to develop and is a primary factor for Penn State’s success on the court this season.
The growth and maturity of sophomore setter Micha Hancock has assisted in generating one of the nation’s top offenses and is part of the reason that the Nittany Lions are 31-2 this season.
Hancock helps to anchor an offense that produces 14.36 kills per set and 1.58 aces per set –– ranking the Lions 17th in the country in each.
Yet these are not numbers that would be produced if there were not a jelling on the floor. Senior setter Marika Racibarskas said that Hancock’s work ethics have helped her excel.
“Ever since she came on her visit here, she’s just a really tough kid, tough player and she works really hard,” Racibarskas said. “She wants what’s best for the team and she won’t stop until she gets it. I think she’s a good vocal leader.”
Racibarskas and fellow senior setter Kristin Carpenter are constantly trying to help Hancock continue to grow, even though they are on the sidelines. Their outsiders’ perspectives allow Hancock to see things from another view and continue to expand her knowledge on what to do with the ball in certain circumstances.
“We try to tell her when the blockers are leaving, say they’re going out with the outsides or they’re leaving with Ariel [Scott],” Racibarskas said. “So we try to tell her that and we tell her when she has the opportunity to swing if they’re just totally releasing and she has a space. Obviously, she’s on the court and she can see what’s going on in the game, but we have the outside perspective that she doesn’t get to see while she’s right along the net.”
In addition to being one of the top servers in the nation at .65 aces per set, Hancock has also added other components to her game more so this season. It’s not uncommon to see her go up for a block in the front row or pepper the rock over the net looking for a kill, instead of setting the ball to another hitter.
Hancock is fifth on the team with 71 blocks and ranks sixth in kills with 116. Her .371 clip also positions her fourth on the squad in hitting percentage.
“She’s grown a lot as a player and she’s turning into a really great leader, which is really good for us,” Ariel Scott, a junior ride side, said. “It was nice having an extra year with her so we could connect and she’s just been really great this year.”
With the addition of extra elements to her game –– especially looking for more kills–– Hancock believes that it helps to expand the Lions’ offense. She is confident in the other players around her and agrees that acting at the right moment is key.
“It’s helped to spread the offense, so when the blocker jumps with me, I know I have a one-on-one situation somewhere else and I’ve got All-Americans on the floor, so that’s pretty much a done deal,” Hancock said. “I just have to know when the right time is to do that.”