Back From Planet Rose, Nittany Lions Look to Season Opener at Penn State Invitational


Planet Rose with Rose Cropped
Apparently, Planet Rose is now air-conditioned

AC in Rec Hall? What Is the World Coming To!

We always imagine pre-season practice for the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team taking place in some isolated location — call it Planet Rose — under Spartan conditions, with countless hours of grueling training, all in preparation for the challenges of Big Ten and NCAA Tournament competition. One notable challenge has always been the jungle-like humidity of early-season matches in non-air-conditioned Rec Hall.

Not any more. The practices are still grueling, and the coaches still demanding (very), but Planet Rose has undergone a transformation, with air-conditioning at last a reality in Rec Hall.

Actually, as a fan (honest – no pun intended), an air-conditioned Rec Hall sounds pretty nice.  Check out the video below, for interviews with Katie Slay and Megan Courtney on pre-season practice so far:

Inside Buzz: Tauron MKS Dabrowa Gornicza; The Louisville Connection; and How the Team is Shaping Up

With the Penn State Invitational in Rec Hall just around the corner, we managed to speak to a few people close to the program (we refer to them collectively below as “Inside Buzz”) for some background on the Penn State Invitational tournament, the opposing coaches, and how the team is shaping up.  Here’s what we learned:

DigNittany: We know nothing about the Tauron MKS Dabrowa Gornicza, the professional club Penn State will play on Friday, August 30th at 7:00 p.m. in Penn State’s opening match of the Penn State Invitational, other than that the team plays in the Liga Siatkówki Kobiet (Polish Women’s Volleyball League), that one of its players — Joanna Kaczor — was a two-time All-American at USC, where she recorded the top two single-season totals for kills (659 in 2007 and 563 in 2006), for attempts (1,542 in 2007 and 1,272 in 2006), and for total points, and that we need to brush up on our meters-to-feet conversion skills to tell how tall their players are.

How did this match come about — what’s the connection — and what stands out about the team?

Inside Buzz: Penn State was looking for a team to complete the Penn State Invitational schedule, and that coincided with Tauron MKS Dabrowa Gornicza taking a tour of the U.S. and playing eight U.S. teams. Dabrowa’s players certainly are older and more experienced, but we will use the match as an exhibition and a chance to play different players and lineups. They are going to be quite strong from all indications.

DigNittany: There seem to be several Louisville connections: Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin coached there, his newly-hired assistant, Lana Dukule, played there, Penn State’s Deja McClendon grew up there, Louisville’s head coach Anne Kordes played there (for Coach Yelin), and Anne Kordes’s father, Ron Kordes, is the head girls’ volleyball coach at Assumption High School in Louisville (and co-2012 AVCA National High School Coach of the Year.) Can you give us a snapshot of Coach Yelin and Coach Kordes and their respective coaching styles?

Inside Buzz: Penn State has a long history with Anne Kordes, who coached in the Big Ten as an assistant at Illinois before heading to St Louis. Ron Kordes has been one of the leading high school and club leaders for decades and still produces terrific teams and players. Leonid has done a terrific job at each of his stops from Barry College in Florida to Louisville and we would expect the same at Syracuse. He has great connections in Europe and his teams always play hard. Side note: Deja’s sister 5-9 OH Maya McClendon will be a freshman for Louisville this year.

DigNittany: What can Penn State fans expect from Louisville (we’ll take a look at Syracuse later in the week)?

Inside Buzz: Penn State played Louisville last year and they are a very strong defensive team. Although they graduated two key players from that team — Lola Arslanbekova, a great 5-11 outside attacker, and Gwen Rucker, a middle hitter (both of whom, we believe, are playing professionally), they return a great libero and six seniors (5-6 L Caitlin Welch, 6-3 MB Brooke Mattingly, starting setter 5-11 Hannah Kvitle, 5-10 OH Emily Juhl, 6-1 OH Carly Sahagian, and 6-1 MB Randi Ewing.)

DigNittany: These will be the first matches of the season for Penn State. It’s an experienced squad, but you’re also working with several players who will be seeing their first collegiate action if they play. How is the team shaping up, and what is the biggest difference so far between this year’s and last season’s teams?

Inside Buzz: We do have a number of players returning and we have been trying to get a handle on our depth and see how we can put a strong lineup together. We have a number of players rehabbing from injuries and pre-season always seems to have some kids dinged up.

DigNittany: OK, Inside Buzz is playing it pretty close to the vest. But the opening match is only five days away. Come to Rec Hall and see for yourself!

2013 Penn State Roster

Penn State 2013 Team Roster

NumberName PositionYear/ClassHeightHometownState/Nation
1Scott, Ariel

RS4/Sr.6-4RidgewoodNew Jersey
2Caraway, LaraDS2/So.5-4Evans CityPennsylvania
3Pierce, KendallDS2/So.5-6EdenNew York
4Gonzalez, DominiqueDS3/Jr.5-6San AntonioTexas
6Martin, MaddieOH4/Sr.6-2TampaFlorida
7Grant, NiaOH3/Jr.6-2WarrenOhio
8Denny, Erica
MH3/Jr. (RS)6-5CentennialColorado
9Prieto Cerame, PaulinaOH1/Fr. (RS)6-2MiamiFlorida
10Muller, CarleyDS1/Fr.5-7Manhattan BeachCalifornia
12Hancock, MichaS3/Jr.5-11EdmondOklahoma
13Krause, TaylorDS/S1/Fr.5-6AllentownPennsylvania
14Whitney, AiyanaOH2/So. (RS)6-5RidgewoodNew Jersey
15Harding, MaggieDS4/Sr.5-6State CollegePennsylvania
16Slay, Katie
MH4/Sr.6-6RaleighNorth Carolina
17Courtney, Megan
18McClendon, Deja

23Robertson, KellyMB1/Fr.6-0AllentownPennsylvania
24Broerman, LauraDS1/Fr.5-4Colorado Springs Colorado
33Fuller, LaceyDS3/Jr.5-6San DiegoCalifornia