Penn State women’s volleyball looking to continue hot start to 2022 campaign

Story posted 4 days ago in CommRadio, Sports by Justin Ciavolella

Things that come in threes are more interesting, enjoyable and memorable and Penn State has checked off the rule of threes.

The Nittany Lions No. 9 ranking is a multiple of three, they have three players with triple-digit kills and three players with 40 or more blocks this season.

Their last time out at the Penn State Classic, the Nittany Lions won all three of their matches in three straight sets to push their record to 11-0 as they have recorded wins in 33 sets.

If that was not enough, the blue and white have been in the Big Ten for over three decades, 31 years, and have never recorded a losing season in conference play.

This weekend Penn State will begin its quest for a 32nd season of racking up more wins than losses in conference play when they welcome Indiana and Michigan into Rec Hall.

Indiana (Friday, 7 p.m.)

While Big Ten play has treated the Nittany Lions well, their first opponent in their quest cannot say the same.

Indiana last finished with a .500 record in Big Ten play in 2002, going 10-10 that year. Last year was much of the same, as the Hoosiers went 4-16 in conference play and 10-22 overall.

It remains to be seen whether or not this Indiana team can continue its winning record from non-conference play, 7-5, when it begins conference play on Friday.

Mady Saris is single-handedly leading the offense efforts for Indiana. Leading the team with 155 kills, producing 66 more than the second-best effort of 89 handed in by Morgan Geddes.

That lack of offensive production could be seen in set three of the Hoosiers' last match against No. 21 Western Kentucky. In that set, the cream and crimson only managed 12 points.

First-year head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley and her squad have held opponents to 15 points or less in nine sets so far this season, including five sets at the Penn State Classic.

The Nittany Lions are fourth in the nation averaging 3.1 blocks per set led by Allie Holland, who is eighth in the nation averaging 1.55 blocks per set.

The junior is not alone at the net, she is joined by Taylor Trammell and Seleisa Elisaia. All three of them have produced 40 or more blocks thus far.

Michigan (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

It would be tough to replicate the success of the Nittany Lions, and while the Wolverines have not done that in terms of their conference record over the years, they have started their 2022 campaign nearly perfectly at 9-1.

The maize and blue are ranked first in the Big Ten and fifth in the NCAA with a hitting percentage of .301. A factor in that has been Jess Robinson, who leads the NCAA with a hitting percentage of .534.

Robinson is one of three Wolverines with 90 or more kills this season, joining Jess Mruzik, who has 131, and Kendall Murray, who sits at 96.

The three-headed monster on the Michigan offense will be met by that of Penn State. In its last match against Coastal Carolina, three Nittany Lions crossed over the triple-digit mark in kills.

Zoe Weatherington, Anjelina Starck and Kashauna Williams have led the offensive attack for a Nittany Lion team on the prowl for kills.

But this matchup might not come down to a standard offense or defense approach but rather one from the service line.

Hannah Grant leads the way in the Big Ten with 23 service aces and an average of .66 aces per set. Michigan has 59 aces while recording 83 errors.

The Nittany Lions have 56 aces and 58 errors from the service line, while yielding 26 service aces to opponents, who have made 103 errors.

Momentum swings from the service line can make or break a match, and Penn State holds the advantage coming into this one.

Justin Ciavolella is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jtc5751@psu.edu.