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Penn State Women’s Volleyball’s ‘Silent Set’ Returns November 6

Penn State women’s volleyball will once again encourage fans to silently cheer this weekend as the team hosts its second-ever “Silent Set” in support of hard-of-hearing communities.

When the Nittany Lions host Michigan State on Saturday, November 6, fans are asked to remain silent from the match’s first serve until Penn State scores its ninth point. That number is no coincidence, though. Senior right-side hitter Jonni Parker, who wears No. 9, was born with a rare condition that only allows her to hear about 40% in her left ear and 45% in her right. She’s worn hearing aids since age 4.

Cheering silently isn’t as tough as it might seem at first glance. Check out this Penn State flier below if you need a refresher on any volleyball-related sign language lingo.

The first 500 students at the match Saturday night will receive some slick t-shirts from the team. Each spells out “P-E-N-N-S-T-A-T-E” in American Sign Language. You won’t find swag like that anywhere else!

Over the years, Penn State has developed a strong connection to the hard-of-hearing community thanks to Parker’s efforts. The significance of Penn State’s Silent Set certainly isn’t lost on head coach Russ Rose.

“I think it brings awareness to a subject that is worth taking a look at as it deals with athletics,” Rose said on Tuesday. “It also gives kudos to those athletes who find a way to compete and play and play well with others, even though they might have what some might consider to be a disability. I thought it was good when we did it two years ago and I’m glad that we could do it one more time for Jonni.”

Penn State first hosted a Silent Set in September 2019 to coincide with the International Week of the Deaf. Against Michigan State that night, none other than Parker herself led the Nittany Lions to an impressive win.

The inaugural event was clearly significant for Parker, who’s now a finalist for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award — an honor that recognizes one outstanding student-athlete with notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character, and competition.

“[The Silent Set] proves that sometimes we have to bring our own energy,” Parker said after the first Silent Set in 2019. “We aren’t always going to have our fans when we’re on the road…We’ve got to bring our own energy and be confident in our play and be able to play at the highest level no matter what.”

First serve from Rec Hall against the Spartans on Saturday is set for 7 p.m. The match will wrap up a four-game homestand that continues on Friday, November 5, with a matchup against Michigan.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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