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Penn State Women’s Volleyball Encountering Momentum Shift After First Top-15 Win

After some early-season hardships, No. 14 Penn State women’s volleyball found its first top-15 win of the season. Despite the Nittany Lions’ win against then-No. 22 Western Kentucky in early September, Minnesota is only the second ranked opponent that the team has overcome this season.

The 3-1 upset of the then-No. 13 Minnesota Gophers brought much-needed momentum to the Nittany Lions, just in time for the hardest part of the 2023 slate.

Penn State started off the season 0-2 with losses to No. 9 Florida and No. 11 Georgia Tech to mark its worst start to a season since 1976 but is now turning the tide on its historically poor start.

With just 16 games left in the regular season, the Nittany Lions will attempt to preserve their undefeated Big Ten record against conference opponents including No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 19 Purdue, and No. 24 Ohio State, making seven of the 16 games ranked.

Luckily for the Nittany Lions, pins Camryn Hannah and Jess Mruzik have been on fire for the front line of the offense. The pair have combined for 297 kills this season, ranking first and second on the team. Additionally, their intimidating power is unstoppable when they’re both on the court.

The power from both the right and outside parts of the court adds an incredible dynamic to the Nittany Lions’ offense that should only increase as team chemistry grows between transfers and returners.

Setter Mac Podraza has also been breaking into the Nittany Lion offense, as she was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week for her performance against the Golden Gophers.

Podraza has played 44 sets this season with over 450 assists, averaging just over 10 assists per set, which is a major piece of the offensive puzzle.

On the defensive front, libero Gillian Grimes has had the backcourt locked down. The sophomore is averaging 3.27 digs per set, totaling 233 digs to date. Alongside her, Cassie Kuerschen and Maddy Bilinovic give much-needed veteran support to the young Grimes.

The flow and attitude of the team are reaching a climax at the midpoint of the season, and there’s a real chance to show the NCAA and Big Ten what the Nittany Lions are all about.

Overall, this is an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to capitalize on their recent success in their next matchups against Indiana and No. 24 Ohio State and continue to make the push toward Tampa and the National Championship in December.

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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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