The Penn State women’s volleyball team closed out a successful opening weekend Saturday evening with a 3-0 record after defeating a solid Navy squad 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-11) in Rec Hall. As Coach Rose noted:
I thought it was, again, a really good evening for us against a good opponent that provides some great challenges for a team. Any time you play the Academy teams, you’re going to be playing individuals that are smart, in great shape, and committed to the team aspect of the sport. Tonight was certainly no different. I would expect Navy to be, as they were last year, competing at the top of their conference.
Penn State’s Taylor Leath, who was named the Penn State Classic Most Valuable Player, recorded a match-high 15 kills, hitting .387, adding eight digs, and a block. RS Sr. OH Nia Reed totaled 13 kills (.414 hitting %), with two digs and a block.
RS Sr. setter Bryanna Weiskircher guided the offense to a .307 hitting %, totaling 31 assists, and adding four digs, two aces and a kill.
Defensively, Jr. libero Kendall White recorded 13 digs, with an ace and an assist also on her stat line. 6-2 RS Jr. MB Tori Gorrell led the team with four blocks, adding four kills and a career-high two service aces. Freshman Kaitlyn Hord added three blocks and freshman Allyson Cathey added two.
Penn State Classic All-Tournament Team
- Taylor Leath – MVP – PSU
- Nia Reed – PSU
- Kendall White – PSU
- Maddi Sgattoni – Navy
- Katie Patrick – Navy
- Carmen Freeman – UMBC
- Krystia Negron – UMBC
- Lindsay Wilkins – EKU
Coach Rose on standouts for Penn State:
On our side of the net, I thought Taylor [Leath] had her best match to date. Nia [Reed] had a good night offensively. Kendall [White], I thought, played really good defense. Bayleigh [Hoffman] came in in the first and third game and was able to generate four points both times. I’m pleased with the effort and the performance by a good number of the players. I wouldn’t say across the board, because I thought a couple people were disappointing. But we’ve got a lot of young people, and I think with young people there’s a lot of ups and downs associated with their development and growth and I know we’ll have to deal with that.
Coach Rose on second-set struggles:
They slowed the game down significantly and we have to be a little better about how we react to something like that. I thought the officiating allowed that to happen and it was just slow. Certainly players have the ability to pick up the tempo a little bit. A veteran team I think can handle that a little bit better than a younger team.
Kendall White on Taylor Leath and Bayleigh Hoffman:
My favorite thing about Taylor, we call her our granny. She’s adorable. She’s old. We make fun of her for it, but she’s like a mom to us. She’s really responsible. Bayleigh is just very bubbly. We like that about her. She’s really positive every time she comes on the court, in practice, it’s who she is all the time.
Coach Rose on scheduling:
The schedule that we put together was designed to work with a team that’s 50 percent freshman players. It isn’t a team like last year’s team that was senior-laden, and somebody said, ‘Hey, we have an opening but you’ll have to play Stanford a second time, is that okay with you?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ That’s the difference between having a team with five or six seniors and a team that’s got eight freshmen is you’re a little more careful about how you put your lineup together.
Coach Rose on challenging his team:
We’ll have more than enough challenges as the season progresses. I thought we were a little better today than we were yesterday. We have a lot of things that we have to get better at and I think the players understand that. You know, there wouldn’t have been a lot of positives if we had played a number of teams and gotten beat up and then said, ‘I told you so. That’s what it looks like.’ I think the players understand that it takes time to get better at certain things. We’ll take our time and I think we’ll take our lumps when that happens and we’ll keep working because that’s what we do.
Taylor Leath on playing at Penn State and how the team is developing
The biggest difference for me is having to go through that night after night after night type of staying locked in. You can’t really take any breaks. In the Big Ten, one of the strongest volleyball conferences in the country, night after night you’re playing someone who’s ranked within the top 10, top 25. You have to always be on, always be game ready and able to perform. I think that in the ACC, maybe it allows for some more lulls here and there and you could still come out on top.
Playing in the Big Ten, it’s really demanding of you. Not only physically but mentally as well. Playing at Penn State, this place, State College, has such a great volleyball culture and the fans are great. There’s so much buzz around it. At UNC it was great too, but I think this is just different from what I’m used to. I’m enjoying it a lot.
I think the team is doing a good job helping to define ourselves and who we want to be this year, especially with a lot of new pieces, including myself. For me, tonight it was more so about trying to find a rhythm in terms of who I want to be as a player, who I want to be as a leader. Tonight I found something that worked.
Coach Rose on Taylor Leath:
I thought she blocked well. It was a terrific performance. She’s a really mature young woman. Even if she doesn’t play well, she’s a mature young woman. There’s a lot for the younger players to learn from just being around her, and I hope that they take advantage of that. And more importantly, I hope she takes the opportunity to pick somebody up who has their head down right now and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you.’ I don’t have to write her lines. She’s a bright gal. I know that she’ll do the right thing.
I’m happy she’s here. I think she has a lot to offer to the university community more than just thinking we’re going to have her hidden away in athletics. I think she can be a spokesperson for a number of issues and groups on campus.
Kendall White on rigors of a three-match weekend:
I mean, we get bruises, but no, it doesn’t really take a physical toll. We train really hard as a team and as a unit. Coach puts it on us every day in practice. That’s what we train for. Honestly, practice is harder than a game.
Rose on Gabby Blossom not playing more against Navy:
It’s unfortunate, because when she came in at the end [of the second set], she made a good serve and a great defensive play. I need to get her in because she’s got the energy that I like.
Bayleigh Hoffman on how she came to play at Penn State:
I started school down south and I played indoor and beach volleyball at universities down there. And it was kind of the homesick type of thing. It just wasn’t for me. I didn’t think it was the lifestyle I wanted. I’m from Pennsylvania, so I came home. I have a bunch of friends that go here and obviously having a Penn State degree is an awesome thing to have. I applied, got in, and over the summer I played with [Penn State alum] Roberta Holehouse and she was like, ‘You should contact coach. Do it. Why not?’ That was kind of the whole thing. I tried out last January. Coach said, ‘This is tough. This is really hard. Is this something that you want to do?’ I said, ‘Let’s find out.’ So here we are.
Kendall White on the growth of the freshmen:
We’ll make little tweaks here and there. Communication is a big one. We talk about it a lot because we like to be a very loud team. They’ve stepped up loads from when they first got on campus, because they’re a very quiet group by themselves, but they’ve really branched out I think in that aspect the most more than anything.
Kendall White on Jonni Parker:
Jonni is very smart. If it’s a bad set, she’ll make something out of it, let us hit it soft into the block and cover it easily. I think she slows things down a bit sometimes. When things are stressful, she’s a very calm player and she’s very cool and collected. I think that’s a huge thing that really benefits us, especially because I’m very spazzy and a couple of us defensive girls are a little bit like that. So having a calm soul on the court is nice.
(Courtesy of GoPSUsports.com)
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