Here we'll take a look at the highlights, lowlights, and what's in the spotlight after the Nittany Lions weekend at the Hampton Inn Classic in Rec Hall. The No. 5 Lions swept Long Island Friday night, Rutgers Saturday morning and defeated Florida Gulf Coast 3-1 Saturday night after dropping the first set.
Katie Slay: Slay was the Lions most consistent player over the weekend, contributing both offensively and defensively. Slay hit .357 against Long Island, .769 against Rutgers and .571 against Florida Gulf Coast. In doing so, the sophomore middle hitter tallied 27 kills and only four hitting errors. Slay also put up 19 blocks over the weekend, rounding out her good weekend.
Ali Longo: The sophomore entered the weekend as a defensive specialist and ended the weekend as the Nittany Lions' libero. Longo switched into the dark blue jersey in the second set against Long Island after junior Kristin Carpenter came out flat in the first. Longo proceeded to make the spot her own, playing solidly, passing well, and notching 27 digs.
Ariel Scott: Scott stepped into a role as the Lions' main offensive threat over the weekend. The sophomore led the team in total attacks with 72 — 19 more than fellow sophomore Deja McClendon. Scott also hit effectively, scoring 34 kills, and improved as the weekend went on. Against Florida Gulf Coast, Scott had one of her best matches of the season. In that match, she hit .419 with 17 kills.
Dropping a Set: Penn State has become a volleyball powerhouse over the last few years and the Lions results have to be judged by that standard. By that logic, the Lions 3-1 victory against Florida Gulf Coast has to be seen as a disappointing performance. The team also came out slowly against Long Island and had to come back to win a 29-27 set, foreshadowing the slow start against Florida Gulf Coast. The Lions were dominated in the first set of that match, and the 25-20 score flatters them. Losing a set against a 5-7 team like FGCU is not a good sign for the Lions hopes of doing big things against big teams
Kristin Carpenter: The junior started at libero against Long Island and played poorly. Carpenter's passing looked sloppy and she sent several balls across the net with misplaced passes. Coach Russ Rose yanked Carpenter from the match on the basis of her play, replacing her at libero with Ali Longo for the rest of the weekend. Carpenter saw limited action for the rest of the weekend, only coming in occasionally to serve. It seems that Carpenter, a captain and one of the most experienced players on the team, is now a bench player.
Is Longo the answer at libero?
On the basis of recent performance, Longo deserves the position. Carpenter missed several beats against Long Island and lost her job based on only one set. Longo played solidly all weekend and did nothing to suggest she should relinquish the libero jersey. Nevertheless, it's difficult to imagine Rose will be content with Carpenter — who he calls his best ball-handler — not playing significant minutes. Carpenter will need to improve in practice to even be considered at libero again, but if Longo continues to play well, she may lock down the spot. How Carpenter can contribute if not at libero is something to watch.