Penn State Women’s Volleyball’s Seniors Shine Throughout Senior Weekend
No. 8 Penn State women’s volleyball went 2-0 in its second-to-last homestand of the regular season this weekend with wins against Indiana and No. 15 Purdue.
The team’s five seniors — Tori Gorrell, Kendall White, Keeton Holcomb, Emily Sciorra, and redshirt-junior Kristin Krause — were honored ahead of Saturday’s match against the Boilermakers as part of Penn State’s annual Senior Night festivities. The players were joined by their friends and families and featured in a heartwarming (and extremely hype) video on the Rec Hall scoreboards, which certainly contributed to their success.
The Nittany Lions are certainly used to playing at a high level at Rec Hall, where they’re currently 8-0 in Big Ten play. However, it was the stellar performances from these five seniors that carried them to another undefeated week in conference action.
Middle blocker Tori Gorrell stuffed the stat sheets this weekend, registering 24 kills on a combined .276 hitting in the matches against Indiana and Purdue. She also tacked on six total blocks, two service aces, and four digs. Gorrell’s kill totals — 10 against the Hoosiers and 14 against the Boilermakers — ranked second on the team in the respective matches.
Gorrell’s career in Happy Valley has been a winding road. She started for two years for the Nittany Lions before being relegated to a backup role last season. Still, she played an integral role in helping the Nittany Lions reach the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight.
Now, as a starter once again, Gorrell looks back fondly on the time she’s spent with her teammates.
“Senior weekend has always been a big deal,” Gorrell said. “I’ve always been able to be a part of it with teammates. I obviously love my girls in my senior class. They’re a great group. It’s different to think about moving on. We’re all going to be going on to different parts of our lives, which is really interesting but also scary. It’s different to see how their paths are going to take them, and when we catch up in five years from now what it’s going to be like.”
Libero Kendall White also turned it on on her special night. The 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year totaled 43 digs on the weekend, setting a new season-high with 29 against Purdue.
White’s career digs total is now up to 1,861. The senior standout now needs just 97 more to become Penn State’s all-time digs leader, which would certainly cement herself as the greatest libero in program history.
Despite her illustrious stat line, White treated her Senior Night just like any other match.
“Of course, every game has the same level of importance, but after [losing to Purdue] last year, I wasn’t letting that happen again,” White said after the match against Purdue. “It was definitely an eye-opener when they came back from a 2-0 deficit. Coming into our gym, I wanted to make a point. I think our team did that as a whole…We came out with the same energy as we did in the first set and I think it was awesome. It felt really good to play out there today with everybody.”
Fellow defensive specialist Keeton Holcomb has also been playing well lately, registering seven digs in both matches this weekend. After playing with the Nittany Lions in her freshman and sophomore years, Holcomb left the program in her junior year but returned for her senior season.
Unsurprisingly, head coach Russ Rose welcomed her back with open arms.
“Keeton’s always had a really good skill set,” Rose said. “I thought she came in and she passed well. It’s always one of the things she does well. She’s an experienced player. I’d like to think that after taking a year off that she would have good energy and would be enthused about the opportunity to get back out there and play.”
Penn State’s two remaining seniors, Emily Sciorra and Kristin Krause, may not have shown up on the stat sheets, but the duo played a critical role in facilitating the Nittany Lions’ passing game throughout the weekend.
Rose noted that Sciorra and Krause’s presence through defending and passing has given the team tremendous opportunities to score and catch opposing defenses by surprise. According to Rose, that type of play is critically important when playing with a roster as young and inexperienced as Penn State’s.
While Penn State has about a month to go in its regular season before preparing for the NCAA Tournament, some players, including sophomore outside hitter Jonni Parker, can’t help but reminisce on the time spent with the Nittany Lions’ five seniors.
“I’m definitely going to miss them,” Parker said. “You’re going to miss any senior class that goes out because you’re going to want to give them the best season that they want to have, especially their last season…We’re going to want to send the senior class out the best way possible. They’re a great class and I think they’ve all had very successful careers. I’m excited to see what they all do afterward.”
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As the days of the 2010s dwindle, we decided to look back at some of the changes that have shaped the decade and gotten us to where we are today.
The Nittany Lions and Happy Valley are common themes in many holiday classics.
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