Three Penn State Women’s Volleyball Players Primed For Bigger Roles
Penn State women’s volleyball advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the 13th time in program history last season. Ultimately, the Nittany Lions came up short against their nemeses, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 3-2 in Kansas City.
After graduating eight players, many of whom were major contributors, Russ Rose will return for his 40th season coaching in State College next fall. With only three starters coming back, a handful of last year’s role players will be relied upon to fill important jobs moving forward.
Here are three Nittany Lions who are primed to take big strides during spring practice:
Cami May | Sophomore | Right side
The Katy, TX, native played in just six sets as a true freshman in 2017 — serving as Heidi Thelen’s backup while adjusting to the college game. Checking in at 6-foot-2, May has the size necessary to be a successful right side for the Nittany Lions.
She seems like a shoe-in to win the starting job, and will have an opportunity to show the Texas schools what they’re missing next season. May enrolled early last spring, so she’s had ample time to get ready for her moment. Given Thelen’s graduation, May is next in line to swing away at a position that’s been somewhat inconsistent for Penn State the past few seasons.
Tori Gorrell | Redshirt junior | Middle blocker
Gorrell, the team’s lone Canadian, enjoyed an outstanding sophomore campaign despite receiving just six percent of the swing opportunities (243/3,843). She finished the season with a blistering .453 hitting percentage, second only to teammate Haleigh Washington in terms of efficiency in the Big Ten.
Gorrell and rising junior libero Kendall White, who recently earned her first All-American nod, will serve as the program’s next generation of leaders. Alongside setter Bryanna Weiskircher, the only other returning starter, Gorrell and White should have no problem inspiring their teammates during offseason workouts. The image of the Cornhuskers rushing the floor after their seventh straight win over Penn State is enough motivation in itself.
Nia Reed | Redshirt senior | Outside hitter
Reed’s task for her final season on campus is unenviable at first glance. Having to step up in place of All-Americans Simone Lee and Ali Frantti is no easy task, but the Fort Lee, NJ native certainly has what it takes from a talent standpoint. Reed can jump out of the gym and is a favorite of coach Rose’s wife, Lori (née Barberich), who also was an All-American at Penn State.
Rose said last season that she routinely lobbied him to play Reed more often, saying she could provide a boost when needed. Reed did just that in a 3-1 win over Wisconsin last season on October 25 in Rec Hall. With the Nittany Lions trailing 16-9 in the second set, Reed subbed in and immediately tallied eight kills, including the final six points of an eventual 25-22 victory. She would post a career-high 11 kills against the Badgers.
Penn State begins its journey toward a record eighth national championship next August. The trio of May, Reed, and Gorrell will be key in determining just how far the Nittany Lions make it in 2018.