No. 3 women's volleyball hosts Penn State Alumni Classic

September 19, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fresh off an undefeated weekend on the road, No. 3 Penn State women's volleyball (8-1) returns home to wrap up the non-conference portion of the 2014 slate, hosting the Penn State Alumni Classic. The Nittany Lions open the tournament with a doubleheader Friday, Sept. 19 with matchups against Eastern Illinois and DePaul at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. PSU is set to square off against UIC Saturday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m., before taking on East Carolina at 8 p.m. in Rec Hall.

PROMOTIONAL SPOTLIGHT
Penn State will raise two banners this weekend in celebration of the 2013 national championship season. The Nittany Lion hoist the Big Ten Championship banner Friday evening before raising the 2013 NCAA national championship banner in a special ceremony before Saturday evening's match. Fans can also take their picture with both trophies prior to the match, as they will be on display on the west mezzanine level in Rec Hall. Fans can also get into all four Penn State women's volleyball matches free of charge if they bring their football ticket or ticket stub with them to the door.

 

 

QUICK SETS
* In conjunction with the Penn State 50 Years of Women in Sport celebration, all four of this weekend's opponent head coaches are former Nittany Lions including Eastern Illinois' Kate Price (2008), DePaul's Nadia Edwards (2001), UIC'S Katie Shumacher-Cawley (2002) and East Carolina's Julie Torbett (1990).

* The Nittany Lions went 4-0 on the road last weekend to capture the Villanova Classic crown with a four-set win against American and a trio of straight-set victories against Villanova, Yale and No. 24 Kansas.

* Senior Micha Hancock earned Villanova Classic MVP honors, while senior Nia Grant and redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney were each honored on the All-Tournament team.

* Seniors Nia Grant and Micha Hancock highlighted the Big Ten Weekly awards as senior Nia Grant was named Player of the Week and Hancock was selected as Setter of the Week. The duo were both instrumental in all four Nittany Lion victories this past weekend, having posted season and career high marks.

* With 1,133 career wins, head coach Russ Rose is presently one win shy of tying current Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji for first place on the all-time list with 1,134 victories, Rose currently owns the all-time record for NCAA DI career winning percentage, having posted a career clip of .864 in the past 35 seasons.

* Averaging 0.90 aces per set, senior Micha Hancock enters the week as the nation's leader in the category, with 27 aces on the year. The Penn State all-time aces leader served up 21 aces last weekend to vault into first place in the national standings. She highlighted the weekend with a season-high eight aces in the win against American.

* As a team, the Nittany Lions' .361 overall hitting percentage ranks second nationally and leads the Big Ten. Additionally, four PSU attackers are hitting at .343 or higher, led by senior Nia Grant's .513 hitting clip, which ranks fourth in the nation and leads the conference.

* Penn State also remains No. 3 in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll this week. Prior to the No. 3 positioning, the Nittany Lions were slotted No. 1 overall for two consecutive weeks.

THAT'S SOME HEAVY HITTING
Senior setter Micha Hancock has paced the Nittany Lions to a .361 overall hitting percentage in 2014, which ranks second nationally and leads the Big Ten. Hancock's also paced four Nittany Lion hitters to .343 or better hitting efficiency. Individually, senior Nia Grant's .513 hitting clip ranks fourth in the nation, while also coming in at first in the conference. Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney, junior Megan Courtney and freshman Ali Frantti are all hitting .343 or better, led by Whitney's .373 efficiency.

HANCOCK HIGHLIGHTS VILLANOVA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Penn State dominated the Villanova Classic All-Tournament team as senior Micha Hancock highlighted a trio of honorees with MVP honors. Senior Nia Grant and redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney each earned All-Tournament team laurels. Hancock led the way from the service line, notching 21 aces on the weekend, while Grant powered the Penn State offense with a team-high .618 hitting percentage during the undefeated road test. Whitney highlighted the weekend with a season-high 13 kills and a career-high six blocks vs. No. 24 Kansas (9/13).

ROSE ONE WIN AWAY FROM A HISTORIC MARK
In 2013, head coach Russ Rose earned his 1,107th victory with a straight-set win at Northwestern, moving him into sole possession of second place on the NCAA DI career wins list. With the triumph, he passed former UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski, who previously owned the record.

With 1,133 wins, Rose is presently one win shy of tying current Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji for first on the all-time list with 1,134 victories. Rose currently owns the all-time record for NCAA DI career winning percentage, having posted a career clip of .864 in the past 35 seasons. Both Rose and Shoji are the only two NCAA DI head coaches to have more than 1,000 career wins. The two are also one of just three active NCAA head coaches in all three divisions to have more than 1,100 career wins.

THE BEST SERVE IN THE NATION
Hancock's 21 aces across four matches last weekend vaulted her into first place in the national standings, as she's presently averaging 0.90 aces per frame. He mark also ranks first in the conference.

Averaging 0.65 aces per set in 2013, Micha Hancock finished last year ranked second nationally in aces per set. Her mark also ranked first in the Big Ten. Her impressive serving also set a new program record. With four aces against Eastern Kentucky, Hancock notched her 200th career service ace. Building on the mark throughout the season she moved into sole possession of first place on the Penn State all-time list with 254 aces on the year to surpass Ellen Hensler, who set the record in 1986. With 27 aces in 2014, Hancock has improved her mark to 281 aces all-time to keep a firm hold on her all-time record.

WEEK FOUR: AVCA COACHES POLL UPDATE
Following a 4-0 weekend on the road, Penn State remained No. 3 in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll for the second consecutive week. Prior to the No. 3 positioning, PSU spent two consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 overall.

BUST OUT THE BROOMS
Penn State has earned seven of its eight (88%) victories this season in straight sets. Within those seven sweeps, PSU surrendered less than 40 total points in back-to-back matches against Iona and William & Mary. Last season, the Nittany Lions earned 23 of their 34 victories in 3-0 sweeps.

GRANT, HANCOCK HIGHLIGHT BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS
After helping PSU claim the Villanova Classic title, senior Nia Grant was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Week, while senior Micha Hancock was tabbed Setter of the Week.

Grant powered the Penn State offense with a team-high .618 hitting percentage during the undefeated weekend on the road. She posted double-digit kills in three-of-four matches, recording errorless hitting performances in back-to-back matches against Villanova and Yale. In addition to Villanova Classic All Tournament team honors, Grant also set a career-high mark with an .846 hitting efficiency against the Bulldogs.

Hancock directed the Nittany Lions to a .351 team hitting clip during the week, averaging 11.60 assists per set. On her way to Villanova Classic Most Outstanding Player honors, she logged 21 service aces in the tournament, highlighting the event with a season-high eight aces against American. Averaging 1.62 aces per set for the week, she also tallied six aces against both Villanova and Kansas.

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Big Ten slate awaits the Nittany Lions next week as Penn State hits the road to open the conference portion of the schedule at No. 4 Wisconsin. PSU will square off against the Badgers in a rematch of the 2013 NCAA national finals Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Madison, Wis. The midweek matchup will broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

Last Updated September 19, 2014