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Penn State Women’s Volleyball Finds ‘Shining Light’ In Anjelina Starck

Freshman outside hitter Anjelina Starck had an impressive weekend for Penn State women’s volleyball.

Before last weekend, the Colorado Springs native hadn’t seen much playing time and last appeared against Robert Morris in September. But when Penn State’s usual starting lineup wasn’t performing at its best, Starck stepped in for redshirt senior outside hitter Anastasiya Kudryashova.

Starck comes from a volleyball family. Her dad played on Ball State’s men’s volleyball team, while her mom played for Texas. In her senior year of high school, Starck was also named the 2021 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for Colorado.

She earned big spots in two matches weekend against Nebraska and Northwestern. Despite the Nittany Lions falling to No. 10 Nebraska Friday night, Starck made an impact with 10 kills and 12 digs. She followed up the next night with nine kills and 11 digs against the Wildcats.

Senior libero Jenna Hampton commented on how crucial Starck was in keeping Penn State in the match against Nebraska, and how the hard work the freshman puts into each practice reflected how well she plays.

“Anjelina came in big time against Nebraska and made really good plays and kept us in that game. Today, she came back with the same attitude and same play, so I’m really happy for her,” Hampton said following Penn State’s win over Northwestern on Saturday. “She’s been working her butt off in practice, and it’s been showing.”

Stack (No. 10) celebrates with her teammates as Penn State plays Northwestern

The Nittany Lions as a whole didn’t exactly impress Friday night against the Huskers, making sloppy hitting errors in the first set that carried throughout the rest of the match. Starck, however, produced big plays at crucial moments for Penn State

“The only shiny light that I saw today was Anjelina came in, and I thought she played really well with the skill set that she has and competed hard and made some really nice plays for a person who hasn’t played very much,” head coach Russ Rose said Friday. “To play in a big match like that with a big crowd, I thought she would be the reason that she’s here.”

Rose praised Starck for her efforts against Nebraska and Northwestern and how hard she’s worked in practice. However, he also noted that Penn State’s other outside hitters need more development.

“I think Anjelina is providing a great contribution right now, but we need to clean up some of the offense at the other outside position,” Rose said. “Again, I thought the middles hit well tonight. I thought Jenna played real well on defense. She dug a lot of balls. That was the key. I thought all the seniors were a lot better tonight than they were yesterday.”

Despite the loss to Nebraska, Starck enjoyed being able to play in front of the Rec Hall crowd and for the volleyball team’s White Out. She also mentioned how she felt the support from the crowd and fans, which included the men’s volleyball and women’s basketball teams.

“Just playing in front of the crowd and the fan support. It was just a moment that I’ll never forget because I remember watching Nebraska play on TV for such a long time, and now, being able to play against them, it’s amazing,” Starck said.

Starck noted that her teammates helped ease some of the nerves while playing and reminded her that she’s out there on the court for a reason.

“They make it so much easier to play. They make me feel like I should be out there. After I get a kill, they’ll come up. If I make a mistake, they’ll all come up,” Starck said. “It helps me not be as nervous because I know that they want me to do well and play well.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a senior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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