1. The No. 5 Penn State women's volleyball team, after losing a five set match
to No. 10 Nebraska, heads to Iowa City to take on Iowa Saturday. The Nittany
Lions will need to rebound against the unranked Hawkeyes to get their campaign
for a ninth straight Big Ten title rolling. Penn State sits in last in the
conference with an 0-1 record, and will look to turn things around Saturday
2. In the loss to Nebraska, only sophomores Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott had
more than 17 attacks — and they each had at least 50. McClendon, with so many
attacks, only had six more kills than errors, with a .109 hitting percentage.
Penn State's hitters need to step up if the team is to have a chance of beating
the top teams like Nebraska. Freshman Aiyana Whitney hit well in the match,
with a .353 hitting percentage, but on only 17 attacks. If the team has only
one hitter playing well and getting significant attacks, Penn State won't be
able to go all the way. McClendon in particular needs to live up to her
reputation and make sure she's hitting creatively, around and over blocks.
3. Sophomore Katie Slay has been one of the most effective hitters on the team
throughout the season, and she's hitting .413 on the season. Slay has hit
creatively in almost every match, either with finesse, tapping the ball over
blocks, or with power, killing it with strength. Slay may not be the most
athletic player on the team, but she is one of the most physical. If Slay can
get more involved in the attack, it will likely benefit the team.
4. Last night could have been a lot worse. Penn State looked dead in the water
last night, down 0-2 in the match and down 12-5 in the third set, this young
team easily could have given up on the road — but they didn't. The Nittany
Lions battled back and made a match out of it. They played a good team on the
road and in the long run, even though it was a loss, this match may be a great
learning tool for this inexperienced Penn State team.
5. If Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott both have good matches, this team can be
very dangerous. McClendon and Scott have proved they are both capable of being
strong offensive threats for Penn State. The problem is that it's been rare
that they both have good matches on the same night. Only once this season have
both of them had a hitting percentage above .300 in the same match. But if both
of them can play well in the same match, this team is capable of beating anyone
in the Big Ten and possibly the nation.
6. The Lions have not hit the ground running in any of their major matches this
season. Against Oregon, USC, Stanford, Texas, and Nebraska, they have gone 2-8
through the first and second set. On the other hand, they have gone 6-4 in the
third and fourth sets, and 1-2 on deciding fifth sets. They haven't played
consistently in any of these matches, and even had poor initial games against
teams they should dominate, such as Miami (OH), Long Island and Florida Gulf
Coast. The Lions have been in the hunt to win every one of their losses, most
because of their tendency to surge late. That trait is certainly formidable to
their opponents because they know a match against the Lions is never over until
the last point. But if Penn State can keep the pressure on strong teams earlier
than they have, they will win many more matches. And as Russ Rose has been
emphasizing all year, that begins with the younger (and older) players
realizing they can't afford to play young anymore.