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Kendall White Plays With Poise Well Beyond Her Years

Penn State’s fearless libero Kendall White isn’t your average freshman. Just ask her coach, Russ Rose.

“She’s wired differently, for sure. She’s a pretty high-strung kid,” Rose said Tuesday. “She came from a very successful high school program and a very successful club program. She came from a family where she had sisters that played volleyball, so I think she didn’t come in as an average freshman in a lot of areas. She was a little further along in some of the important areas.”

The Indianapolis native’s on-court passion is downright infectious, but her defensive prowess and volleyball IQ are what truly set her apart. “I think she’s learning about the demands of playing in a great conference and seeing how good the other liberos are — what makes each program’s libero tick,” Rose said. “I think she’s learning and picking up a lot of things along the way.”

trevor_hayes_img_9479White immediately stepped into a starting role the moment she arrived on campus, taking over libero duties from the graduated Kendall Pierce and sophomore Keeton Holcomb. The 5-foot-5 White plays with tremendous hustle, routinely laying out full-speed for spectacular bumps that draw “oohhs and aahhs” from the Rec Hall faithful.

She’s sixth in the Big Ten with 343 digs, while adding a team-third 57 assists through 25 matches. Her 32 digs in a 3-2 loss to No. 1 Nebraska last Friday set a new career-high. It also marked the first time a Nittany Lion had surpassed 30 since Alyssa D’Errico posted 35 against Minnesota in 2010.

White was a four-year letterwinner at Cathedral High School, guiding the Fighting Irish to Indiana’s first-ever undefeated season (36-0) at the 4A level and a state championship as a senior in 2015. She earned Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year honors for her efforts.

“I first fell in love with volleyball when I was nine. I started playing when I was eight, and after that I quit all other sports,” White said. “I knew I wanted to go D1 my whole life because those were the schools I always wanted to go to, but I knew it was a possibility when I was about 14. That’s when I switched to this club that always had girls go D1. It was an awesome program and they helped prepare me for that.”

trevor_hayes_img_9499White is far from an introvert. Aside from her blue libero jersey, she’s easily identifiable by her charisma and competitive spirit. “I kinda just have that personality of someone’s who’s super ‘out there,'” she joked. “Of course, I love volleyball, so that obviously helps me with my fire [during the match]. I’m very competitive, so when we go out there and we’re kicking someone’s butt, then I’m gonna scream and slap my friend on the butt. That’s the kind of person I am.”

No. 10 Penn State (18-7, 9-4 Big Ten) dropped four conference matches in a row before cruising by Iowa in straight sets at home last Saturday. The Nittany Lions currently sit in fifth place in the Big Ten behind the nation’s top three teams in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as No. 15 Michigan State.

trevor_hayes_img_9496White has her sights set on a pair of victories this weekend as the ladies in blue and white head to Maryland and Ohio State Friday and Saturday. They swept the Buckeyes earlier this season, but have yet to face the Terrapins. First serve is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. in College Park.

“I’m looking forward to winning. I wanna win really badly this weekend and come back from our little streak of losses,” White said. “I wanna come out and show them we’re still a factor in the Big Ten and just prove everyone wrong about what they’ve been saying lately.”

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected].

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