Penn State Women’s Volleyball Preview
It has been 1,070 days since the Penn State women’s volleyball team lost to Stanford at the Yale Classic on September 15, 2007. Since that day, the Lady Lions have reeled off 102 straight match wins and have won three straight national championships.
But Alisha Glass and Megan Hodge have graduated as the winningest women’s volleyball players in Penn State and Division I history, which presents new challenges for Coach Russ Rose. We talked to Coach Rose recently to hear his thoughts for the upcoming year.
You can’t replace people who have achieved the highest highs (Glass and Hodge). We have nine freshmen this year, a young, inexperienced group. It’s a brand new team which I expect to be exposed at some point because of their youth….. We’re going to enjoy the new arrivals and give them the expectations to succeed here as part of the program.
It’s not all newbies on the team this year, though. Senior leadership comes in the form of Blair Brown, Arielle Wilson, and Alyssa D’Errico, who were all selected to the preseason all-conference team. Seniors Fatima Balza and Cathy Quillco and sophomore Darcy Dorton, who is coming off off-season knee surgery, will also be spearheading the team this year.
These returning veterans will need to be sharp as the Lady Lions will face some stiff competition in and out of the Big Ten. Rose said that Minnesota and Illinois may be two of the best programs in the country this year and will contend for the Big Ten title along with his team.
Also in the schedule is the Nike Big Four Classic, an event Rose himself set up by contacting the coaches of Stanford, Florida, and national runner-up Texas. He said that Stanford and Texas (minus beastly Destinee Hooker, who dominated last year’s title tilt) are also among the top teams in the nation, while Florida is good but still reloading their roster, much like Penn State.
While the team may be young, there are still players around that have won one, two, and three national championships. And not enough can be said with Coach Rose, who has compiled 1,001 career wins, at the helm. There may be some growing pains for the rookies, but expect the ladies to compete for another Big Ten title and hopefully add another national trophy to the case at Rec Hall come December.