Women’s Volleyball Back Home to Begin Final Stretch
Saturday, October 29. That was the last time the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team played a match inside the confines of Rec Hall. The result: A statement four set win over then top ranked Nebraska.
Much has changed for Penn State athletics and the volleyball team in the past three weeks. Inconsistent play has resulted in road losses to Wisconsin and Illinois. Before those two losses, it took Penn State five sets to dispose of Minnesota on the road. The road trip ended on a positive note with a sweep of Northwestern, but the Lions added two losses to their record along the way and dropped back to No. 12 in the rankings. Their record now stands at 19-7 overall and 12-4 in the Big Ten.
Tonight and tomorrow, they will return to Rec Hall for their final two regular season home matches against Indiana and Purdue, respectively. Both are 7 p.m. start times.
Indiana ought to be a cakewalk. They have a 1-15 Big Ten record but do enter with a little momentum having just recorded their first conference win last Saturday against Iowa. Purdue will be a much different story. The Boilermakers enter with a 24-3 overall record and are 13-3 in the Big Ten. The last time the Boilermakers lost was over a month ago to Penn State, dropping a four set match in West Lafayette. This win looks very impressive now given Purdue’s nine match winning streak and surge in the standings. Much like Nebraska three weeks ago, they will travel to Happy Valley after a road match in Columbus Friday Night.
Purdue is ranked No. 8 overall but did receive a first place vote in the most recent polls. The Boilermakers are led by senior Tiffany Fisher, junior Ariel Turner, and redshirt sophomore Catherine Rebarchak, who will attempt to make life difficult for Russ Rose’s squad Saturday night.
In its first match against Purdue, Deja McClendon led Penn State with fourteen kills while Micha Hancock contributed four aces. Both players were recognized with awards this week, McClendon winning Big Ten Player of the Week and Hancock taking home Big Ten freshman of the week. It goes without saying that both players, along with the rest of their teammates, will need to be at their best on Saturday night.
Penn State is currently two games behind Nebraska in the Big Ten standings. The Cornhuskers’ final three matches are against Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern. Winning a ninth consecutive Big Ten championship is going to be a stretch for this year’s Penn State squad. To have any realistic chance of achieving that goal, it will need to defeat Purdue on Saturday night.
Big Ten talk aside, with four games remaining, a big thing to focus on for Penn State will be improving its resume for NCAA tournament seeding which will be announced in a little over a week.
That begins with having a good weekend at Rec Hall.