Veteran Transfers Add Experience, Grit To Penn State Women’s Volleyball Ahead Of 2023 Season

Another Penn State powerhouse is getting ready to start its season.

Penn State women’s volleyball is set to start its second year under head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley and newly appointed assistant coach and Nittany Lion legend Megan Hodge Easy.

This offseason, Penn State’s coaching staff hit the transfer portal hard, scoring Mac Podraza, Ally Van Eekeren, Camryn Hannah, Jess Mruzik, and Lina Perugini.

The group of dominant transfers was headlined by the 2022 Big Ten Setter of the Year Podraza, who averaged over 11 assists per set last season at Ohio State. Podraza adds a crucial element to the Nittany Lions’ lineup after losing setter and starter Seleisa Elisaia.

Aside from Podraza, Mruzik has become one of the players to watch in the Big Ten conference with her strong arm from the outside, and the Ohio State and Michigan transfer combination could prove deadly in Big Ten play.

“What’s not to like? She hits the crap out of the ball,” Podraza said of Mruzik.

Schumacher-Cawley also had some praise for Mruzik and is excited to see what she’ll accomplish this season.

“I think Jess Mruzik is a really, really good player and she is gonna do some special things for us this year,” Schumacher-Cawley said.

The other transfers also elevate all levels of the game for the Nittany Lions, adding a defensive specialist and Pennsylvania native in Perugini, a right-side hitter in Hannah, and an additional setter, who was named the 2022 Big South Setter of the Year at High Point, in Van Eekeren.

In terms of returning players, middle Taylor Trammell will hit the court after suffering a season-ending foot injury against Maryland last season.

“I think that we’ve added a lot of great people that are only going to add to what we had going on last year,” Trammell said. “Going into the season, I’m excited.”

Along with Trammell, commanding names such as Maddy Bilinovic, Gillian Grimes, Zoe Weatherington, Alexa Markley, and Allie Holland will once again suit up in the blue and white as the push to an eighth National Championship begins.

Combined, Weatherington, Markley, and Holland scored an astounding 729 kills last season, which is only set to grow with the addition of Podraza.

The team will also begin the season ranked No. 8 in the country, according to the AVCA Coaches Poll, after finishing the 2022 season with a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament Regionals.

The Big Ten once again dominates the polls with four teams in the top 10 and six in the top 25. Notably, soon-to-be Big Ten arrival Oregon sits behind the Nittany Lions at the No. 9 spot.

Plenty of changes hit Schumacher-Cawley’s squad since December, but the team is ultimately ready to go.

“The team was here this summer and working out and I think they did a really good job of getting in shape and being ready to go right at the beginning of preseason,” Schumacher-Cawley said.

The Nittany Lions officially begin their campaign at 8 p.m. Friday, August 25, against No. 11 Florida in Tampa, Florida, at the Road 2 Tampa Invitational.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a senior staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music or Penn State wrestling and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs in Beaver Stadium. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected].

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