Penn State women's volleyball vs. Oregon

Defensive specialist Jenna Hampton (15) dives to receive the ball before it can hit the ground in the final set of Penn State women's volleyball's game against Oregon State at Rec Hall on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Penn State beat Oregon 3-0.

Penn State’s four-set defeat to Nebraska brought its winning streak to a screeching halt — dropping the Nittany Lions to 1-4 on the season against ranked opponents.

While the blue and white were competitive against the Cornhuskers, Russ Rose said his squad’s foes had the edge in a couple key facets.

“I thought Nebraska was far more physical and far better prepared to play tonight than we were,” Rose said.

Rose noted several of Penn State’s normal contributors didn’t get off to the best start Friday, and as a team, the Nittany Lions had trouble in the first set.

“I thought that the fact that I had to take two or three starters out because they weren't ready to play, and weren’t playing at a high enough level is a reflection of some of the things that I see in practice,” Rose said.

While the end result wasn’t ideal for the Nittany Lions, Rose identified one player who stood out above the rest — freshman outside hitter Anjelina Starck.

Against the Cornhuskers, Starck appeared in just her fifth match of the season — and made the most of her extended action on the court.

“The only shiny light that I saw today was Anjelina,” Rose said. “[She] came in and I thought she played really well with the skillset that she has.”

“[She] competed hard and made some really nice plays for a person who hasn't played very much.”

After recording one kill across her first five sets as a Nittany Lion, Starck was among Penn State’s offensive leaders Friday, finishing third on the team with 10 while adding 12 digs.

MORE VOLLEYBALL COVERAGE

Starck’s breakout match came with the help of the Nittany Lions’ veterans, as she said her older teammates have been instrumental in keeping her even-keeled in intense moments.

“They make it so much easier to play. They make me feel that I should be out there,” Starck said. “After I get a kill, they’ll all come up, if I make a mistake, they'll all come up. It helps me not be as nervous because I know that they want me to do good.”

Friday’s match was also just Starck’s second in Rec Hall — she appeared in one set in Penn State’s Sept. 4 victory over Oregon State.

Starck cited the Nittany Lion faithful as what she’ll take away from the experience.

“[I think] just playing in front of the crowd and the fan support,” she said.

She also noted that suiting up against Nebraska was a unique opportunity.

“It was just a moment that I'll never forget because I remember just watching Nebraska play on TV for such a long time and now [I’m] able to play against them.”

Among those in attendance Friday was Penn State’s men’s volleyball squad, dressed in various costumes and attempting to get the Cornhuskers off their game.

In her freshman season, Starck has taken note of the support Nittany Lion women’s volleyball receives from other Penn State athletes and coaches.

“It's amazing because you know everybody's behind you,” she said.

That support hasn’t been lost on Rose either.

“I think that's always the case, the teams always support the other teams, so it's nice,” he said. “It was a great event tonight, there was a nice crowd. The band always makes great contributions. The student section’s great and I thought everything was good except the effort by the staff and the team tonight.”

MORE VOLLEYBALL COVERAGE

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.