No. 8 Penn State Sweeps Hofstra in Home Opener
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s volleyball team opened its season Friday night with a three-set sweep of the Hofstra Pride, 25-13, 25-19, 25-18, in both teams’ first match of the Penn State Classic at Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions came into this weekend’s action ranked No. 8 in the AVCA Coaches Poll and picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten Conference this season. Coach Russ Rose looks to prove the voters wrong, entering his 41st season of what is already a historic career at the helm of Penn State. However, the Nittany Lions were up against a very capable Hofstra side, who is coming off a CAA conference title and an NCAA tournament berth last season. Preseason All-Big Ten selections Kendall White, Jonni Parker and Kaitlyn Hord looked to lead Penn State to victory in its inaugural contest.
Rec Hall was buzzing well prior to the beginning of the first set. Students and fans alike packed the stands, creating a raucous environment, which Rec Hall has quickly become known for.
Coach Rose said, “I thought the student section was really ready to go, and that was great.”
The Nittany Lions instantly fed off the momentum provided to them by the fans. They had a dominant first set over Hofstra. This included 11 kills and a .364 hitting percentage as a team with only three errors. Compare that to the Pride, which hit -.200 as a team with six kills and 12 errors.
However, Hofstra adjusted nicely in the second set, cleaning up its game immensely. The Pride rebounded to the tune of a .400 hitting percentage and only three errors, compared to 14 kills, and were far more competitive as a result.
It was the first sign of adversity in a young season for Penn State, which was able to respond accordingly. The Nittany Lions weathered the initial Hofstra storm, eventually going on a run after trading blows in the first half of the second set to pull away and take a commanding two-sets-to-none lead.
Several players stepped up to help Penn State take the commanding lead in the match. Leading the way was the aforementioned Jonni Parker. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year picked up right where she left off. After leading the Nittany Lions in kills last season with 351, she topped all players in that stat tonight, accumulating 14. Parker also lead all players in hitting percentage at a clip of .667.
Despite being down by two sets, Hofstra did not go down quietly. The Pride continued to battle until the very end of the final set and seemed rather comfortable regardless of the intense atmosphere around them, perhaps due to their large makeup of international players. Hofstra’s roster contained only five U.S. born players.
Coach Rose said, “Teams like Hofstra that have a large number of international kids pose a different challenge because they’re really unimpressed by big crowds.”
Still, the Pride’s resiliency was not enough, and Penn State eventually pulled away to complete the sweep.
Despite a relatively comfortable result all things considered, the Nittany Lions still feel there is plenty of work to be done before they are ready to compete for a national championship once more.
Parker said: “I think it was a great way to open up the season. We definitely have some things we need to work on.”
Penn State will be back in action Saturday morning, as the Nittany Lions continue the Penn State Classic with a showdown against Holy Cross at 10 a.m.
Andre Magaro is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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