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Jonni Parker Shines Again In Penn State Women’s Volleyball’s ‘Silent Set’

Penn State women’s volleyball used an all-out team effort to come back and defeat Michigan State on Saturday, but right-side hitter Jonni Parker ultimately moved the needle for her team.

The 15th-ranked Nittany Lions honored Parker and hard-of-hearing communities by hosting a “Silent Set” — a promotion that encouraged fans to silently cheer until Penn State earned its ninth point of the opening frame. By the match’s end, the Rec Hall faithful loudly roared as Parker won the game with her 18th kill of the match.

The five-set win took plenty of grit from the Nittany Lions. Still, no one was surprised that Parker rose to the occasion against the Spartans.

“Every box that one would have criteria in, she’s very special,” head coach Russ Rose said after the match. “As a player, she always competes really hard. There are times in a match where she starts slow and she’s not playing great, and probably doesn’t like it when I point it out, but she came back strong. I know she’s always going to compete as hard as she can.”

Parker finished the match with 18 kills, seven digs, and three total blocks. In an effort to clinch a Penn State win in front of a huge group of her friends and family in attendance, Parker led all players with five kills in the final frame.

Rose noted that Parker’s contributions off the court are immensely helpful for his team. Parker, a senior captain, is working overtime to lend a hand to her teammates.

“She’s a great teammate. She’s very caring of other people — not just her teammates, but young people who reach out all the time who maybe have a challenge and they find Jonni to be somebody who they can relate to,” Rose said. “She’s always available and gives them time.”

Penn State pulled out all the stops throughout the Nittany Lions’ second-ever Silent Set. The match’s free t-shirts featured American Sign Language lettering, and fans received complimentary posters with how-to guides to cheering silently. Proceeds from the match even benefited Chasing Greatness — a nonprofit started by Parker that works to support and provide opportunities for kids and teens with hearing loss.

After the big win, Kaitlyn Hord said supporting the Silent Set was her biggest highlight of the night.

“Jonni is just an amazing human being, and this cause is great because it’s something that not a lot of people know about,” said Hord, who led the match with a career-high 24 kills. “So, just bringing awareness to it, whatever we can do to bring awareness to it, it’s just a great feeling to have. I’m really glad to be playing in this match.”

Penn State’s Silent Set brought 4,106 fans to Rec Hall, and it’s safe to say the promotion was well received. Thanks to an additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, Parker could remain at Penn State for a fifth year to spearhead a third Silent Set. Either way, it seems the newfound tradition has made its mark on the Nittany Lions — one that could last long after Parker hangs up her jersey.

Parker and the rest of the Nittany Lions will continue their season with a road trip to Michigan to face the Spartans and Wolverines this weekend.

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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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