Playing three matches in roughly 24 hours didn't appear to have an impact on No. 8 Penn State.
In the final match of the weekend's Penn State Classic, Wichita State stood head-to-head with the Nittany Lions in the beginning of set one, but couldn’t do enough to take the lead. Showing little sign of fatigue, Penn State made sure to capitalize on the match (25-14, 25-14, 25-7) after the Shockers made it visible they were up for a competition.
Saturday's doubleheader resulted in a double victory for the Nittany Lions, as they’ve now won their first nine sets of the 2019 campaign.
“Coming out with a winning record definitely gave us some confidence, especially with the younger girls,” Serena Gray said. “Giving them experience and cushioning them to for bigger matches is what it is all about.”
The sophomore class had an impact on this game and the entire tournament with Gray and Allyson Cathey overpowering the offensive for The Nittany Lions.
Starting sophomore Gray broke her all-time career record, finishing with 18 kills and a hit percentage of .708, in a dominant showing for the Nittany Lions.
“Dope, that’s all I have to say. It was pretty exciting,” Gray said.
“I thought we controlled the ball well, and Serena had a terrific night as a primary offensive player, which put us in a good spot as well as Allyson’s ball handling .” Coach Rose added.
Cathey has seen a change in herself since last season, and learning to embrace her new role.
“I would say this year I find myself being more aggressive and putting myself more out there,” Cathey said. “ I want to be able to leave it all on the court, last year I was a little timid.”
Although Penn State’s competition the last three matches was seen as a starting point for the team rather than testing itself against some of the top teams in the country, there was a good ending to the tournament that allowed it to create new opportunities.
“There is really nothing to be gained at where you are in this point in the season,” Rose said. “You have a bit of parameter and opportunity to look at some teams we are going to play.”
Kaitlyn Hord in the last three matches has proven Penn State’s strengths. Her performance has helped the team gauge its progress offensively.
“The key for us is generating kills and it’s really hard for a middle hitter to get 30 kills but Hord has shown she is capable of that,” Rose said.
Proceeding into another week of practice and an away tournament, Rose and his team are aware of the current struggles of the team and what needs to be worked on as they approach the rest of a challenging schedule.
“We certainly need to serve better as a team which will impact our blocking,” Rose said. “ Our numbers will change drastically once we play other teams because those type of things are a reflection of the teams were playing.”