DigNittany Preview: Pittsburgh

Here’s Dig Nittany Volleyball’s preview of Saturday evening’s Women’s Volleyball match between Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh:

Time and Place: September 5, 2009, 7:00 p.m. ET.

Media Coverage: The match will be available GameTracker and online via all-access-cbssports.com

The Skinny: University of Pittsburgh

Pitt is 3-1, with victories over Belmont (3-2), Wichita State (3-0) and Kent State (3-1) and a 3-1 loss to Arizona. On Wednesday, junior Amy Town (5-11 OH) led the Panthers with 20 kills (adding eight digs and an ace) in Pitt’s victory over Kent State. Other key contributors for the Panthers are Seniors Meagan Dooley (6-1 MH)and Melissa Stadelman (5-11 OH), Junior Imani Harper (a 6-0 MH transfer from Temple), Senior Michelle Rossi (5-5 L), and sophomore Allyson Hodnik (5-7 S).

The Skinny: Penn State

Penn State went 3-0 over the weekend in the Active Ankle Challenge, defeating Miami University 3-0, Alabama 3-0, and, after a nail-biting first set (29-27), St. Louis University 3-0 in front of a crowd of 6,000+.

Senior OH Megan Hodge is leading Penn State with 4.11 kills/set, followed by Freshman OH Darcy Dorton (3.67 k/set) and Junior MH Arielle Wilson (1.67 k/set). Junior MH Fatima Balza leads in blocks with 1.50/set, with Arielle Wilson next at 1.33/set. Senior Setter Alisha Glass is averaging 11.44 assists/set, with Junior Alyssa D’Errico averaging 4.33 digs/set, Megan Hodge 3.56 digs/set, and Alisha Glass 2.44 digs/set.

The Head Coaches

Pittsburgh: Toby Rens

Toby Rens, who is in his first season as the Head Coach of the Panthers, was the first coach of Long Island University’s women’s volleyball team, building LIU into a perennial NCAA Tournament team and Northeast Conference power. Under Rens’ leadership, LIU averaged 26.5 victories a year.

Penn State: Russ Rose

In an interview with Bill Landis posted on thedailycollegianonline, Russ Rose praised the the Nittany Lions for handling the pressure of the 6000+ crowd at the St. Louis match.

“To play in front of 6,000 people is something that you can never really replicate in practice. . . . So you never really know much about your team until you’re placed into a situation like that. I wouldn’t say we’re anywhere near where we were last year, but certainly we received some great performances.”

Rose acknowledged that the team needs to improve its serving (Penn State totaled 13 service aces over the weekend but accumulated 20 service errors), but told Landis that “Part of our serving numbers were skewed by the fact that most teams struggle at the beginning of the year with passing.”

The Mascots

Penn State: The Nittany Lion

Here’s the Nittany Lion performing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller:

Pittsburgh: The Panther

And here’s the Pitt Panther. Is it just us, or are the students and cheerleaders distinctly underwhelmed by the Panther’s groove?

We don’t dispute our bias, but really, this isn’t a thriller: Nittany Lion all the way.