As the Penn State women's volleyball team prepares to face No. 3 Stanford and either No. 7 Florida or No. 10 Texas, we'll take a look inside the numbers to see which of these top 10 teams leads each statistical category. We'll also look at the player from among the teams that leads each category, as well as Penn State's leader.
Ranking: Penn State, with its No. 2 ranking, comes in as the highest-ranked team in the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic, ranked just ahead of No. 3 Stanford. Coach Russ Rose has been vocal about his skepticism of the ranking however, suggesting that his team climbed so high in the rankings based on the Lions' accomplishments in previous years. This weekend will go a long way into seeing whether or not Penn State deserves its spot in the rankings.
Wins: Florida, with its 6-1 record takes this category. The Gators have won every match against unranked opposition but fell in five sets to their only ranked opponent, No. 17 Iowa State.
Losses: Texas, with two losses on their 2-2 record, has the most losses out of the teams competing in Palo Alto this weekend. Both losses came in straight sets to No. 6 Minnesota, who have a strong team with a number of talented freshmen who are already contributing. Texas can't be counted out based on their record thus far, but the Longhorns come into the stacked tournament as the weakest team — on paper.
Winning Percentage: No. 3 Stanford, with its 4-0 record, is the only undefeated team in the tournament. Stanford bested No. 21 Duke and Notre Dame on its way to the perfect record so far, but the Cardinal's caliber will be tested as they face their first top 10 teams this weekend.
Kills/Set: Stanford leads this category with 14.5 kills per set, followed by Florida's 13 and Penn State's 12.7. Stanford's sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams leads her team with 76 kills — good for 5.43 a set — and will likely be the Cardinal's main offensive threat against the Lions tonight.
Overall leader: Rachel Williams, Stanford — 5.43
Penn State leader: Deja McClendon — 3.89
Hitting Percentage: Penn State's young squad is actually the leader in offensive efficiency among the four teams assembled in Palo Alto this weekend, hitting .315. Florida is hitting .300 as the second most efficient team. The Nittany Lions will likely need to keep hitting effectively if they hope to have success against some of the nation's top teams.
Overall leader (At least 60 attacks): Rachael Adams, Texas — .479
Penn State's leader (At least 60 attacks): Katie Slay — .378
Assists/Set: This statistic provides an imprecise measure of the quality of a team's setter, but we'll take a look anyways. Penn State's freshman Micha Hancock seems to have seized the setter position for her own, but could still improve the quality of her sets. She has 8.53 assists per set, with junior libero Kristin Carpenter also chipping in with the occasional set at 2.67. Both Florida and Texas also split the setter role to some extent and have lower assists per set stats for each of their players as a result. Stanford's Karissa Cook is the only player on any of the teams earning the vast majority of her
Overall leader: Karissa Cook, Stanford — 11.57
Penn State leader: Micha Hancock — 8.53
Digs/Set: The Nittany Lions come out weakest in the defensive metrics, reflecting their relative instability in the back line. Penn State is last in this category with only 11.6 digs per set, blown away by Stanford's average of 20.29. To be fair, Penn State's numbers look a lot better when compared to Texas' 13.5 and Florida's 12.3. Still, digging out balls is one area where the Lions likely need to improve to compete against the kinds of top teams they'll face this weekend.
Overall leader: Karissa Cook, Stanford — 4.21
Penn State leader: Kristin Carpenter — 3.00
Blocks/Set: Stanford's block has been the strongest of this collection of teams thus far in the season, with 3.54 blocks per set. The Cardinal are slightly ahead of Texas' 3.18. Penn State and Florida bring up the rear in this category with 2.6 and 2.5 blocks per set, respectively. Blocking is another area where the Nittany Lions haven't been able to put their abundance of talent to good use yet. The experience of Nittany Lion senior Katie Kabbes shows in this area, as she has over half of her team's blocks per set.
Overall leader: Carly Wopat, Stanford — 1.79
Penn State leader: Katie Kabbes — 1.36
Service Aces/Set: Florida leads the four teams in service aces per set with 2.13, with Penn State following behind with 1.83. Texas is the only team of the four with less than one ace per set, at .93. Penn State's freshman setter Micha Hancock has been a boon for the Lions in this category with her fast and powerful serve. Hancock has been a consistent threat starting points, and Penn State's best server by far.
Overall leader: Micha Hancock, Penn State — .94
Penn State leader: Micha Hancock — .94