There’s no place like home. Just ask No. 8 Penn State.
Following two weeks on the road, the Nittany Lions returned to Rec Hall following its loss to No. 7 Nebraska.
From flights to long bus rides, the team is able to have a normal week of beyond just the scheduled matches. The players are able to be normal students and athletes.
“We definitely love playing at home. Rec Hall and our fans are incredible so being at home is such an advantage especially with the Big Ten, you don’t have to travel it's more of a normal schedule,” setter Gabby Blossom said.
With Penn State now having seven straight home wins, the momentum goes beyond just the regular season. Now with the Big Ten conference being open due to Ohio State’s upset over No. 4 Wisconsin on Friday night, it is anyone’s conference to win.
Yet the luxuries of being home come at just the perfect moments and are never forgotten. Blossom’s shoes began to rip in the last match against Nebraska, and in the opening set of Friday’s match against Indiana the shoes had to be changed.
“It’s kind of my fault I broke them last weekend but I always play with those shoes. The first hit came and they broke more and I was like it's time to change them,” Blossom said.
“Well it's lucky to be at home because if you’re on the road and something like this happens its a bigger challenge,” coach Russ Rose added to Blossom’s comment.
Following a five-set loss on the road, the team was in need of getting back on the right track as soon as possible in order to not fall into a slump prior to tournament season. Serena Gray mentioned how the Indiana match was a good turning point to not dwell on the past, and train for the ultimate goal at the end of the season.
“I think we definitely needed to make an immediate change and we knew we couldn’t sit in this loss for too long because the Big Ten is one of those conferences were you never get a break,” Gray said. “One of the things we need to get good at is bouncing back if we want to contend with the top teams.”
Being at home is not only an advantage when playing the match, but a feeling of coming home to a community that cares about you. To put on a Penn State jersey and wear the colors blue and white, Kaitlyn Hord feels there is a special meaning behind it — just like being home at Rec Hall.
“It’s something that’s really hard to describe its an amazing feeling to put on the jersey, look in the mirror and say wow I’m playing for not only a team that I am with now but also those who went down in history with this team,” Hord said.