2013 Season Preview: Penn State Looks for Winning Formula

We Over Me Equation

If we make a commitment to the “we” part of the equation, and not the “me” part, we should be able to play with anyone.” Penn State Head Coach Russ Rose on the outlook for the 2013 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Team.

The “We” Equation

Teamwork 2Without teamwork, they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on

It’s a cliché: “talent wins games . . . teamwork wins championships.” But cliché or not, we’re guessing those blue guys are all-in on that teamwork thing.

The 2013 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team certainly has plenty of talent. Just naming players who garnered All American or All Big Ten honors in 2012, the list includes 5-11 Jr. setter Micha Hancock (2012 AVCA 1st Team All-America, Volleyball Magazine 1st Team All-America, Big Ten Setter of the Year, and All-Big Ten); 6-4 Sr. Opposite Ariel Scott (2012 AVCA 1st Team All-America, Volleyball Magazine 1st Team All-America, Big Ten Player of the Year, and Unanimous All-Big Ten); 6-1 Sr. OH Deja McClendon (2012 AVCA 3rd Team All-America, Volleyball Magazine 2nd Team All-America, and Unanimous All-Big Ten); 6-2 So. S/OH Megan Courtney (AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year, Unanimous Big Ten All-Freshman Team, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year); and 6-6 Sr. MH Katie Slay (AVCA 2nd Team All-America, Volleyball Magazine 2nd Team All-America, All-Big Ten).

And that’s not all. With the exception of 5-6 DS/S/L Kristin Carpenter and 6-0 S Marika Racibarskas — both of whom will be greatly missed, not only for their on-the-court contributions, but also for their leadership and enthusiasm (Kristin, do you have your voice back yet?) — everyone is back. Plus 6-2 OH/Opp Paulina Prieto Cerame and 6-5 OH/Opp/MH Aiyana Whitney — both highly-touted players who redshirted in 2012 — will be joining the team, as will true freshmen 5-4 DS Laura Broerman, 5-6 DS/S Taylor Krause, 5-7 DS Carley Muller, and 6-0 MB Kelly Robertson.

It’s a talented bunch, to say the least.

And their 2012 season was hardly shabby. When your team goes 33-3, wins the Big Ten Championship, makes it to the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship Semifinals (losing a 3-1 match to Oregon, the then-#5, post-season #2-ranked team in the country), ends up ranked #3 by the AVCA and Rich Kern polls (#2 by Pablo), has two players earn First Team AVCA All-American honors (Ariel Scott and Micha Hancock), one (Katie Slay) make the AVCA All-American Second Team, and one (Deja McClendon) named to the AVCA All American Third Team, it’s a mark of the program’s extraordinary success.

But the point of the NCAA Tournament is to win — not just three or four matches, but all six matches. So in that sense, the season didn’t end the way Penn State’s players and staff (and fans) would have hoped.

Coach Rose knows a thing or two about winning championships, including the importance of teamwork — the “we” part of the equation. Even if the team gets the formula right, we strongly doubt he would predict a national championship — that takes talent (check), hard work (hey, it is Penn State and it is Coach Rose), staying healthy and getting a few breaks here and there. But with their talent, if they can get that teamwork part of the equation right, we think the 2013 Nittany Lions will be able to play with anyone.

For more on teamwork (from some really smart people), check out this video:

2013 Outlook by Position

Setter

Setter is one position on the 2013 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team where not everyone is back. In fact, both graduated 2012 seniors — 5-6 Kristin Carpenter and 6-0 Marika Racibarskas — saw time at setter during their careers. Carpenter was the starter in 2010, when all she did was average 11.52 assists/set, which led the Big Ten, and set all of her primary hitters to hitting percentages of .320 or above.

But 5-11 Jr. Micha Hancock returns after earning AVCA 1st Team All-America, Volleyball Magazine 1st Team All-America, and All-Big Ten honors in 2012, as well as being named Big Ten Setter of the Year. And then there’s 6-2 S/OH So. Megan Courtney, who has some observers wondering if Coach Rose might install a 6-2. Add in 5-6 DS/S Fr. Taylor Krause, and the position looks solid.

Take a look at the table below for setting and serving statistics from 2012 (and who’s back). Below the table is a brief rundown on each of the three contenders.

Who's Back? Set/Serve Leaders from 2012

#Name 2012
Class
SP
MPMSAsstA/SetSASA
/Set
SE
12Hancock, MichaSo.1253636140311.22810.65113
4Gonzalez, DominiqueSo.125360960.77260.2134
18McClendon, DejaJr.1243636420.34180.1538
17Courtney, MeganFr.1203635330.28130.1131
33Fuller, LaceySo.119361150.13190.1618
5Carpenter, KristinSr.95366120.1380.0824
6Martin, MaddieJr.6230130.05140.2329
3Pierce, KendallFr.2918120.0790.316
n/aTeamn/a1253636163513.081961.57314
n/aOpponentsn/a1253636128610.29970.78193

#12 Micha Hancock, 5-11 S, Jr. Edmond, Oklahoma

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730)The Buzz on Micha: Her serve will always be a weapon. Still has much to learn about running an offense, but should be improved as a junior and will give the team the ability to be versatile with her hitting and setting.

 

 

Micha Hancock would probably be quick to tell you that there’s been a learning curve for her during her first two seasons as Penn State’s starting setter. Still, with Hancock at setter in 2012, Penn State’s offense recorded a .302 hitting percentage for the season — which was good for first in the Big Ten and third nationally — with Hancock’s 11.22 assists per set ranking second in the Big Ten and 28th nationally. Showing steady improvement in her all-around game, Hancock’s 279 digs ranked second on the team, and she registered 59 total blocks.

Micha Hancock's Set/Serve Statistics - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName ClSPMPMSAsstAsst
/Set
SASA
/Set
SE
2012Hancock, MichaSo.1253636140311.22810.65113
2011Hancock, MichaFr.1213333127510.54910.7576
2012Teamn/a1253636163513.081961.57314
2011Teamn/a1223333154912.702091.71288

2012 (Sophomore Season): AVCA 1st Team All-America; Volleyball Magazine 1st Team All-America; West Lafayette Regional All-Tournament Team; Big Ten Setter of the Year; All-Big Ten; Big Ten Player of the Week (9/3); Big Ten Setter of the Week (9/3, 9/24, 10/1, 10/22, 11/5, 11/19); AVCA National Player of the Week (11/6).

2011 (Freshman Season): AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year; Unanimous Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection; Big Ten Freshman of the Year; Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week (11/14, 11/21, 11/28). Guided Penn State to a .267 hitting percentage (12th nationally); averaged 10.54 assists per set (sixth in the Big Ten).

High School: Two-time Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year; 2011 PrepVolleyball.com Top 50 Recruit and Senior Ace; member of the 2009 USA Junior National Championship All-Tournament Team; named to Volleyball Magazine’s “Fab 50”; Best Setter Award in 2010 USA High Performance International Championship Tournament; selected to the 2010 Youth Olympic Team; 2010 Under Armour All-American.

Here’s Deja McClendon interviewing Micha last season:

#17 Megan Courtney, 6-2 S/OH, So. Dayton, Ohio

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Megan: Dynamic athlete who can play a variety of positions. Could have a variety of roles hitting left side/right side or setting. Looking to build on a strong freshman season. One of the keys to a successful season in 2013.

 

 

2012 (Freshman): In 2012, Megan Courtney was named AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year; was a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. She started 35 out of 36 matches at outside hitter, ending the season fourth on the team in kills (240 — an average of 2.00 kills per set), digs (237 — an average of 1.98 digs per set), and blocks (101 — an average of 0.84 blocks per set, including at least one block in 33 matches, and 27 matches with multiple blocks).

High School: In 2011, Courtney capped-off an exceptional high school career by garnering 2011-12 First Team AVCA Under Armour All-American honors and being named the #4 high school player in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. For the season, she registered 451 kills (.603 attack %), 426 assists, 316 digs, 52 blocks and 36 service aces. On December 14th, she was named the 2011 Gatorade Ohio Volleyball Player of the Year.

Here’s Deja McClendon interviewing Megan Courtney last season (courtesy of GoPSUsports.com):

Megan Courtney (Photo courtesy of GoPSUsports)

#13 Taylor Krause, 5-6 DS/S, Fr. Allentown, Pennsylvania

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Taylor: Can set, pass, and defend. Will have the opportunity to compete for a variety of roles as the season progresses.

 

 

 

High School: Taylor was team captain and won letters all four years at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. During those four years, Parkland won three Lehigh Valley Conference and district championships and one Pennsylvania state championship. In 2012, Taylor was named a Max Preps All-American, an Under Armour Second Team All-American and a Mizuno Third Team All-American.

Here’s Taylor’s “Meet the Freshmen” video, courtesy of GoPSUsports.com:

Outside Hitter

The three top outside hitters from 2012 — 6-1 Sr. Deja McClendon, 6-2 So. Megan Courtney (who we covered above in the Setter overview, and who might very well see time at left side and right side, as well as setter), and 6-2 Sr. Maddie Martin all return this season. In fact, as shown in the table below, Penn State returns its top seven players in total kills and kills per set.

Who else will be in the mix? The official Penn State roster lists 6-2 Jr. Nia Grant as an OH, but we’ve thrown caution to the wind, and include her in the Middle Hitter section (where she was a starter in 2012). Others who will be in the hunt for playing time at OH include 6-5 RS So. Aiyana Whitney, and 6-2 RS Fr. Paulina Prieto Cerame.

Who's Back: Attack Leaders from 2012

#Name 2012 ClassGPMPMSKillsKills
/Set
Att.
Err.
TAHit.
Pct.
1Scott, ArielJr.12536354693.751271110.308
18McClendon, DejaJr.12436364033.251311106.246
16Slay, KatieJr.12235272792.2958537.412
17Courtney, MeganFr.12036352402.0088632.241
7Grant, NiaSo.12436362051.6552407.376
12Hancock, MichaSo.12536361251.0032260.358
6Martin, MaddieJr.62301510.8221129.233
Teamn/a1253636178814.305144222.302
Opponentsn/a1253636134610.778004242.129

Here’s a quick rundown on each of those players (other than Courtney).

#18 Deja McClendon, 6-1 OH, Sr. Louisville, Kentucky

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Deja: Has the tools to have a great senior year. Strong attacking and blocking skills. Passing and defense are improved. Will be a key player for the season.

 

 

Deja McClendon’s offensive statistics (see the first table below) dropped off in 2012 — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the AVCA All America Team voters, who dropped her from 1st Team status in 2011 to 3rd Team in 2012. What many critics didn’t take into account was that Deja played a much greater role on defense in 2012 (2.73 digs per set) than she did in 2011 (2.01 digs per set)(see the second table below), with double-digit digs in 16 matches and at least three digs in 34 of 36 matches (she led the team in digs in eight matches).

We don’t know what kind of statistics Deja McClendon will put up this season — and there’s a cliché about statistics too, something about statistics and losers — but we do think she will play a very important role for Penn State in 2013.

Deja McClendon Attack Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName Cl.SPMPMSKillsKills
/Set
Att.
Err.
TAHit.
Pct.
2012McClendon, DejaJr.12436364033.251311106.246
2011McClendon, DejaSo.12233334323.541441090.264
2012Teamn/a1253636178814.305144222.302
2011Teamn/a1223333167613.745644159.267

Deja McClendon Recept/Dig Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName Cl.SPMPMSREDigDig
/S
2012McClendon, DejaJr.1243636353392.73
2011McClendon, DejaSo.1223333222452.01
2012Teamn/a125363697178714.30
2011Teamn/a1223333113172914.17

2012 (Junior): AVCA 3rd Team All-America; Volleyball Magazine 2nd Team All-America; West Lafayette Regional All-Tournament Team; Unanimous All-Big Ten; second on the team in kills (403, 3.25 kills per set) and digs (339, 2.73 digs per set). Registered 70 blocks for the season, with at least one block in 30 of 36 matches.

2011 (Sophomore): AVCA 1st Team All-American; NCAA Lexington Regional All-Tournament Team; 1st Team All-Big Ten; first on the team in kills (432 kills, 3.54 kills per set — 10th in the Big Ten) and third in digs (245, 2.01 digs per set).

2010 (Freshman): AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year and the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player (the second freshmen to win that award — Stanford’s Kerri Walsh being the first); AVCA 2nd Team All-American; Big Ten Freshman of the Year; 1st Team All-Big Ten; Unanimous Big Ten All-Freshman Team; second on the team in kills (418, 3.43 kills per set), fourth in attack percentage (.331 — which ranked seventh in the Big Ten) and hit a career-high .733 (11-0-15) against Texas in the NCAA National Semifinals vs. Texas (12/16-10) and .382 in the NCAA Finals (which GoPSUsports reports was the third-best mark in the 25-point rally scoring era).

High School: Miss Kentucky Volleyball, Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year and an Under Armour All-American; MVP and gold medal winner at the USAV High Performance Championships; ranked seventh on PrepVolleyball.com’s “Senior Aces.”

Here’s an interview with Deja McClendon from March 2013 (courtesy of Penn State TV Network):

 

#6 Maddie Martin, 6-2 OH, Sr. Tampa Florida

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Maddie: Provides depth at the outside hitter position and can win games with her offense and serve. Could start or provide a spark off the bench.

 

 

 

2012 (Junior): Earned Academic All-Big Ten honors; totaled 51 kills, 14 aces, 71 digs and eight blocks in 30 matches (62 sets) at outside hitter.

2011 (Sophomore): Academic All-Big Ten; ranked fourth on the team in kills (151) and fifth in digs (156), playing in 33 matches (24 starts) and 98 sets.

2010 (Freshman): registered 22 kills, 15 digs and six blocks in 20 matches (29 sets).

High School: PrepVolleyball.com Sophomore of the Year finalist; two-time PrepVolleyball All-American; named as an AAU, ESPN RISE and AVCA/Under Armour All-American and as the Under Armour Most Undeniable Player; Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.

Using our Wayback Machine, here’s a video of Maddie Martin from her sophomore season in 2011:

#9 Paulina Prieto Cerame, 6-2 OH/Opp, RS Fr. Miami, Florida

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Paulina: Good arm and great energy. Will get her first taste of collegiate action this season. Should look to compete for time on the left and right side.

 

 

2012 (Freshman): Redshirt season.

High School: Attended Palmer Trinity School in Miami, Florida (where she was a three-year team captain), and was ranked #7 on PrepVolleyball.com’s 2011 Senior Aces list. Three-time All-Miami Dade County 1st Team selection, named twice as the Miami Herald Player of the Year, selected to the Junior Olympics 16 Open All-Tournament Team, and was a member of the USA Youth National Team, which placed ninth in the World Championships in Ankara, Turkey. Prieto Cerame played for Team VB Rags from Puerto Rico at both the 2010 AAU Girls National Championships in Orlando Florida and the 2010 USA Junior Olympics National Championship at Reno, Nevada. She started playing club volleyball in 2002 for Borinquen Coqui.

Here’s Paulina’s 2012 “Meet the Freshmen” video:

 

#14 Aiyana Whitney, 6-5 OH/Opp/MH, RS So. Norwood, New Jersey

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Aiyana: Very physical front row player who can play all three front row positions. Blocks and attacks at a high level. Also has a very potent service game.

 

 

2012 (Sophomore): Redshirt season.

2011 (Freshman): Aiyana Whitney had some good performances in 2011 — 15 kills vs. Texas (9/10), nine kills on .353 hitting against Nebraska (9/21), nine kills and three blocks at Minnesota (11/4), 12 kills with only one error in 24 swings (.458 attack percentage) against UCLA in the Sweet 16. For the season, in which she played in 24 matches and 64 sets at outside hitter, she totaled 113 kills (.194 attack percentage), 14 digs and 25 blocks.

High School: Whitney was a 2010 Top-20 Prep Volleyball Senior Ace and a 2010 Under Armour/AVCA First Team All-American. She led Old Tappan to 25 straight wins over New Jersey opponents that season, which was capped off by Old Tappan’s first-ever state championship when it won the finals of the Tournament of Champions. 2011 New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year.

Here’s Aiyana Whitney’s “Meet the Freshmen” video from 2012:

 

Opposite/Right Side

Ariel Scott returns for her third season as starter at opposite/right side position. All she did in 2012 was earn 1st Team AVCA and Volleyball Magazine All-America honors and Big Ten Player of the Year. 6-5 RS So. Aiyana Whitney, 6-2 RS Fr. Paulina Prieto Cerame, and 6-2 So. Megan Courtney are also available for duty if the need arises.

#1 Ariel Scott, 6-4 Opp/OH/MH, Sr. Ridgewood, New Jersey

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Ariel: One of the best point scoring players in the country. Looking to continue to improve front row play and serve. Can play all three front row positions.

 

 

 

In 2012, Ariel Scott put up some big numbers — even better than her very good statistical performance in 2011 (see tables below). She’ll be looking to do even better in 2013 (pause for sound of opponents cringing).

Ariel Scott's Attack Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName Cla.SPMPMSKillsKills
/Set
Att.
Err.
TAHit.
Pct.
2012Scott, ArielJr.12536254693.751271110.308
2011Scott, ArielSo.11833314183.541361083.260
2012Teamn/a1253636178814.305144222.302
2011Teamn/a1223333167613.745644159.267

Ariel Scott's Blocking and Points Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName Cl.SPMPMSBSBATotB/SBEPtsPts
/Set
2012Scott, ArielJr.125363511911020.823528.54.23
2011Scott, ArielSo.1183331581860.732471.54.00
2012Teamn/a1253636103547376.53.01492360.518.88
2011Teamn/a122333376503327.52.6840n/an/a

2012 (Junior): AVCA 1st Team All-America; Volleyball Magazine 1st Team All-America; NCAA West Lafayette Regional Championship MVP; Big Ten Player of the Year; Unanimous All-Big Ten; Academic All-Big Ten.

2011 (Sophomore): AVCA 3rd Team All-America; Unanimous First Team All-Big Ten.

2010 (Freshman): 143 kills (2.27 kills per set) in 20 matches (63 sets), with at least three kills in every match.

High School: Prepvolleyball.com National Sophomore of the Year finalist; Prepvolleyball.com National Junior of the Year finalist; New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year and Star Ledger State Volleyball Player of the Year; Prepvolleyball.com #17 Senior Ace; 2009 Under Armour All-American.

Here’s Ariel Scott in an interview following Penn State’s win over Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA Regional:

 

Middle Hitter

Middle hitter should be a position of strength for Penn State in 2013, as both 6-6 Jr. Katie Slay and 6-2 Jr. Nia Grant return. The other two players who will compete for playing time in the middle are 6-5 RS Jr. Erica Denney and 6-0 Fr. Kelly Robertson. As reflected in the table below, when it comes to blocking, all the statistical leaders are back.

Who's Back: Blocking and Points Leaders from 2012

#Name '12
Cl
SPMPMSBSBATBBSBEPtsPts
/S
1Scott,
Ariel
Jr.125363511911020.823528.54.23
18McClendon, DejaJr.12436362347700.566467.53.77
16Slay, KatieJr.1223527191451641.3412370.53.04
17Courtney, MeganFr.120363532691010.848319.52.66
7Grant, NiaSo.120353571081150.9611260.02.17
12Hancock, MichaSo.1253636868760.616248.01.98
6Martin, MaddieJr.623010880.13169.01.11
Teamn/a1253636103547376.53.01492360.518.88
Opp.n/a125363647355224.51.80531667.513.34

#16 Katie Slay, 6-6 Sr., Raleigh, North Carolina

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Katie: Excellent blocker and front row presence. Looking to have a great senior season.

 

 

 

Prior to the 2010 season, Russ Rose described Katie Slay as perhaps “the best incoming blocker we’ve ever had in the program” and as “smart and a great team player.” She hasn’t disappointed, and will be counted on to be a team leader and defensive force during the 2013 season, while continuing to contribute on offense.

Katie Slay: Blocking and Points Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName ClSPMPMSBSBATBBSBEPtsPts
/Set
2012Slay, KatieJr.1223527191451641.3412370.53.04
2011Slay, KatieSo.1223333271461731.4211359.02.94
2012Teamn/a1253636103547376.53.01492360.518.88
2011Teamn/a122333376503327.52.6840n/an/a

Katie Slay: Attack Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName ClSPMPMSKK/SAtt
Err
TAHit.
Pct.
2012Slay, KatieJr.12235272792.2958537.412
2011Slay, KatieSo.12233332572.1163502.386
2012Teamn/a1253636178814.305144222.302
2011Teamn/a1223333167613.745644159.267

2012 (Junior): AVCA 2nd Team All-America; Volleyball Magazine 2nd Team All-America; All-Big Ten; Academic All-Big Ten; ranked first on Penn State (27th nationally) with 1.34 blocks per set; recorded at least one block in every match, leading the team in blocks in 22 matches; .462 hitting percentage ranked first on the team, second in the Big Ten, and seventh in the nation; ranked third on the team in kills with 279 (2.29 kills per set).

2011 (Sophomore): AVCA 2nd Team All-America and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year; led the team with 1.42 blocks per set (which topped the Big Ten and was good for 13th nationally), registering at at least two blocks in every match. Her 257 kills ranked third on the team, and her .386 attack percentage led the team, ranked second in the Big Ten, and was 15th best in NCAA Division 1.

2010 (Freshman): Played in 23 matches (11 starts, 52 sets), recording 54 kills and hitting .404; totaled 83 blocks (1.60 blocks per set) — good for fifth on the team; led the team with six blocks vs. Texas in the NCAA National Semifinals (12/16) … had a match-high seven blocks against California in the National Championship (12/18).

High School: 1st Team AVCA/Under Armour, ESPN RISE, Volleyball Magazine and PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American (2010); PrepVolleyball.com’s No. 18 Senior Ace; Raleigh News and Observer 2009 Volleyball Player of the Year; member of the USA Women’s Junior National Team sophomore and junior year, winning the NORCECA Continental Championship U-20 in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico; member of National Honor Society.

Here’s are interviews with Katie Slay and Deja McClendon following the 2012 Big Ten Championship (Katie’s interview starts at the 31 second mark):

#7 Nia Grant, 6-2 OH/MH, Jr. Warren, Ohio

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Nia: Dynamic athlete who can have a big season if she continues to work hard and train at a high level. Made strides in the offseason and is physically ready for a great year.

 

 

Nia Grant: Blocking and Points Stats - 2012 vs. 2011

YearName ClSPMPMSBSBATBB/SBEPtsPts
/Set
2012Grant, NiaSo.124363691111200.9711269.52.17
2011Grant, NiaFr.117323213941070.914224.01.91
2012Teamn/a1253636103547376.53.01492360.518.88
2011Teamn/a122333376503327.52.6840n/an/a

Nia Grant's Career Attack Stats

YearClassSPMPMSKK/SAtt
Err
TAHit
Pct.
20133/Jr.11835332081.7664411.350
20122/So.12436362051.6552407.376
20111/Fr.11732321511.2944309.346

2012 (Sophomore): Academic All-Big Ten; ranked second on the team in total blocks (120) and blocks per set (0.97); averaged 1.65 kills per set, hitting .376 for the season.

2011 (Freshman): Nia Grant debuted in impressive style in 2011 against USC (8/27), with 11 kills on 17 swings (no errors), and eight total blocks (good for second on the team). ranked second on the team with 107 total blocks and 0.91 blocks per set; totaled 151 kills with a .346 hitting percentage.

High School: Team captain at Howland High School in Warren, Ohio; named to Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50”; four-year letter winner in track & field.

Here’s Nia Grant being interviewed by Deja McClendon during the 2012 season:

#8 Erica Denney, 6-5 MH, RS Jr. Centennial, Colorado

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Erica: Will compete for playing time in the middle. Positive kid and a great teammate.

 

 

 

Erica Denney arrived at Penn State in 2010 as a much-heralded recruit, having been named a First Team AVCA/Under Armour All-American and a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace in 2009, and having helped the Youth National Team win a gold medal at the 2008 NORCECA Championships. Prior to the 2010 season, Coach Rose said “when [Erica is] healthy, I know she is a terrific offensive player. . . . She was a player involved in the USA Youth Program so she’s had great success previously and I think she has the potential to reach that again.”

2012 (Redshirt Sophomore): Academic All-Big Ten; played in six matches (nine sets), making her first career start against DePaul (9/8), when she led the team with five blocks.

2011 (Redshirt Freshman): Academic All-Big Ten; made collegiate debut vs. Rutgers (9/17), registering one kill.

2010 (Freshman): Redshirt season.

High School: 1st Team AVCA/Under Armour High School All-American; PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace; won a gold medal at the 2008 NORCECA Championships.

Here’s an interview with Erica Denney from her senior year in high school:

#23 Kelly Robertson, 6-0 MB, Fr. Allentown, Pennsylvania

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Kelly: Strong kid with a good work ethic. Will compete for playing time in the middle.

 

 

 

High School: Won four letters and served as team captain at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa.; helped her team to three Lehigh Valley Conference Championships, three district championships and one state championship; All-State Tournament MVP as a junior; PrepVolleyball National Junior of the Year finalist and Senior Ace; Under Armour 1st Team All-American, Max Preps 2nd Team All-American; Mizuno 3rd Team All-American; Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year; earned Honor and High Honor Roll recognition at Parkland High all four years; a District XI gold medalist in the triple jump.

Here’s Kelly’s “Meet the Freshmen” video, courtesy of GoPSUsports.com:

Libero/Defensive Specialist

Dominique Gonzalez, Lacey Fuller, Kendall Pierce, Maggie Harding, and Lara Caraway all return from the 2012 team, and will be joined by true freshmen Laura Broerman and Carley Muller. This looks like a solid and deep group. We’re guessing that competition for playing time will be intense.

Who's Back: Recept/Dig Leaders from 2012

#Name 2012
Class
SPMPMSREDigDig/S
4Gonzalez, DominiqueSo.125360194573.66
18McClendon, DejaJr.1243636353392.73
12Hancock, MichaSo.125363612982.38
17Courtney, MeganFr.1203635222371.98
33Fuller, LaceySo.11936121691.42
6Martin, MaddieJr.6230110711.15
5Carpenter, Kristin Sr.953660540.57
Penn State
Total
n/a125363697178714.30
Opponentsn/a1253636196166313.30

Here’s a quick look at the players who will be competing for back row playing time in 2013:

# 4 Dominique Gonzalez, 5-6 Jr., San Antonio, Texas

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Dom: Will look to improve on a solid 2012 season. Passing is a strength and her defense continues to improve. Steadying presence on the floor. Will be a team Captain.

 

 

Dominique Gonzalez's Career Recept/Dig Stats

YearClassSPMPMSREDigDig/S
20133/Jr.127360--4163.28
20122/So.125360194573.66
20111/Fr.84296101231.46

2012 (2012 Sophomore): Started all 36 matches at libero (125 sets); ranked first on the team with 457 digs and 3.66 digs per set; in the NCAA Tournament, she registered a match-high 12 digs vs. Kentucky (12/7), topped the squad with 20 digs vs. Minnesota (12/8), and totaled 22 digs vs. Oregon (12/13).

2011 (Freshman): 29 matches (six starts), totaling 123 digs for the season (1.46 digs per set).

High School: a PrepVolleyball.com “Frosh 59”, “Soph 79” and a Top 100 Senior Ace (#70); Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50”; two-time All-Texas Team member; member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars.

Here’s a video interview with Dominique from 2012:

#33 Lacey Fuller, 5-6 Jr., San Diego, California

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Lacey: Will compete for the libero position and see significant time on the floor. Plays really hard and will compete every chance she gets. Made great strides in the spring with passing and defense.

 

 

Lacey Fuller's Career Recept/Dig Stats

YearClassSPMPMSREDigDig/S
20133/Jr.118360--1411.19
20122/So11936121691.42
20111/Fr.6730013590.88

2012 (Sophomore): played in all 36 matches (119 sets) ranking fifth on the team with 169 digs (1.42 digs per set).

2011 (Freshman): played in 30 matches, totaling 59 digs (0.88 digs per set — seventh on the team); was second on the team with a career-high 13 digs vs. Texas (9/10).

High School: won four varsity letters at Torrey-Pines High School in Carmel Valley, California, as her team won the 2007 CIF Championship and the 2010 League Championship; 2007 Defensive Player of the Year; her club team won the silver medal at the Miami Junior Olympics in 18-Open in 2009 and finished fifth at the Reno in 18-Open in 2010; four-time Scholar Athlete.

Here’s an interview with Lacey from 2011:

#15 Maggie Harding, 5-6 Sr., State College, Pennsylvania

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Maggie: Will compete for time as a DS. Outstanding teammate and student. Will be a Captain.

 

 

 

2012 (Junior): played in eight matches (eight sets).

2011 (Sophomore): Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree; Academic All-Big Ten; debuted against New Hampshire (9/3).

2010 (Freshman): Redshirt season.

High School: Won four varsity letters at State College Area High School in State College, Pennsylvania; team captain and All-State her senior year; Faculty Scholar and ranked in the top 10 percent of her class; member of the National Spanish Honors Society.

Maggie Harding Maggie Harding will be a team Captain in 2013

#2 Lara Caraway, 5-4 So., Evans City, Pennsylvania

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Lara: Could see time as a serving specialist and defensive specialist. Plays hard.

 

 

 

Lara Caraway, a 5-4 DS from Evans City, PA, won four varsity letters for the Mars Area School District (she was homeschooled), and served as the team captain. She earned 2011 First Team All-State honors and was a first team All-WPIAL first team selection, recording 291 digs during the 2011 season.

2012 Freshman: Played in 16 matches (24 sets) with three aces and five digs; debuted against Morehead State (8/24).

Here’s Lara’s “Meet the Freshmen” video from 2012:

#3 Kendall Pierce, 5-6 DS, So. Eden, New York

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Kendall: Has a year under her belt and will compete for playing time in the backrow. Good teammate with a good volleyball IQ.

 

 

 

2012 (Freshman): Played 18 matches (29 sets) as a serving and defensive specialist; recorded nine aces and seven digs, with two aces vs. Illinois (11/8) and two aces against Bowling Green (12/1).

High School: Won three letters and was a two-year team captain at Eden Junior-Senior High School in Eden, N.Y.; led her team to the State Championship three times; two-time All-WNY First Team honoree; MVP at State Championship in 2011; President of the National Honor Society and the Student Council.

Here’s Kendall’s “Meet the Freshmen” video from 2012:

#24 Laura Broerman, 5-4 DS, Fr. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Laura: Quick, hardworking kid who will compete. Good on coverage and defense.

 

 

 

High School: Won four varsity letters in volleyball (10 total letters) at St. Mary’s High School and served as team captain in her senior year; four-year member of the honor roll.

Here’s Laura’s “Meet the Freshmen” video:

#10 Carley Muller, 5-7 DS, Fr. Manhattan Beach, California

Beatrice_the_Honey_Bee_(7836716730) The Buzz on Carley: Experienced player with good feel for the game. Good passer and defender. Will battle for time at libero, defensive specialist, or serving specialist.

 

 

High School: A two-year team captain at Mira Coast High School, where she was named Bay League Libero of the Year after her senior year; helped her club team to third-place at the 17 Open division Junior Nationals and second-place at the Las Vegas Classic in the 17 Open division. Was on the honor roll in all eight semesters.

Here’s Carley’s “Meet the Freshmen” video, courtesy of GoPSUsports:

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