Coach Russ Rose was mum about who disappointed him in Friday’s loss to No. 15 Michigan State, but when the tide turned for the better on Saturday, he wasn’t hesitant to put names to performances.
Rose was likely thinking of Deja McClendon on Friday after she posted a .120 hitting percentage and the fewest kills from any Penn State attacker. Due to her struggles, she stayed primarily in the back row as more of a defensive player as Ariel Scott and Megan Courtney got the bulk of the swings.
Because of her sub-par performance on Friday, Rose was more than pleased with the senior’s performance on Saturday night as she bounced back from the previous lackluster effort.
Despite her tough evening Friday night, McClendon came out of Saturday’s match as the team’s leading hitter and digger. She registered 15 kills and 13 digs, leading the team in hitting with a squad-best .433 hitting percentage as the Lions earned a 3-1 victory against No. 10 Michigan.
“I thought Deja had an exceptional match, the best match she’s played in a long time,” said Rose. “I’m happy she was able to do that for herself.”
McClendon took a look back at her Friday performance, noting that her passing consistency was something she struggled with.
But Saturday’s match was much different in Rose’s eyes.
“She really came out tonight, passed great, passed 80 percent of the serves and had a great night offensively,” Rose said.
Over McClendon’s three years with the team, she has become an integral part of the Lions’ success. So when she has a down match, the team is going to feel it, too, and McClendon holds that responsibility.
“Deja is such a key player for Penn State,” Michigan State coach Cathy George said, after holding McClendon to just seven kills in the five-game set. “I don’t know that it was anything that we did, her numbers just weren’t coming in.”
Megan Woodward can be reached at (814) 865-1828.