1. Micha Hancock needs to work the ball all over the court to confuse Wisconsin's and Minnesota's defense. That means setting to Deja McClendon, Katie Slay and Ariel Scott. Minnesota will be difficult to deceive. Even if Nittany Lion hitters can get it past the Golden Gopher blockers, there is senior libero Jessica Granquist in the back row. She is one of the best defenders in the conference, and the Lions should try to keep the ball away from her. However, most of the time that's just not possible, so the Lions will need some powerful swings Saturday to try and overpower her and force a bad pass.
2. At home, especially against a tough team like Minnesota, the Lions will greatly benefit from a nice amount of service aces. It's a quick point, and there's no better way to steal momentum from another team. Micha Hancock is second in the NCAA with .73 aces per set, and an ace from her will quickly fire up the fans in Rec Hall. She's only had two aces in her last two matches, but she has demonstrated her ability to serve well against strong teams. She had a season high six aces against USC and five against Texas. Also, Kristin Carpenter is one of the trickiest servers out there. Any given rally, she can get you with a rocket jump serve or a floating knuckler.
3. Russ Rose is clearly frustrated. He doesn't like much of what he's seen in practice or in matches. He has openly questioned his players' competitiveness, skill and ability to respond to pressure situations. He has always been candid with his players and they always say they appreciate that. But with a difficult conference schedule ahead of them and four losses already behind them, it is time for somebody to switch the OFF button to ON. The Lions need to remember the USC match from August and play like that. It was, by far, their most impressive win of the season, and the energy and fight of that match has rarely appeared again. We saw it for two sets against Nebraska, but where did it go the fifth set (or the first and second for that matter)? Penn State can play with the best of them, so why don't they?