No. 3 women's volleyball travels to No. 15 Minnesota

September 26, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pas -- Fresh off the first conference victory of the season, No. 3 Penn State women's volleyball (13-1, 1-0) looks to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play this weekend, traveling to No. 15 Minnesota (11-1, 1-0) to take on the Gophers Saturday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. ET in the Pavilion.

The matchup will broadcast live on ESPN3 with Sam Gore and Hannah Werth on the call. Penn State at Minnesota will also re-air on tape delay Sunday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

* Penn State claimed wins in both outings against the Golden Gophers during the 2013 season to mark Penn State's seventh consecutive win against Minnesota. The Nittany Lions posted a 3-2 win in a close five-setter at home on October 9th as well as a straight set victory on the road in Minneapolis on November 16th.

* The Nittany Lions topped fifth-ranked Wisconsin in straight sets on the road in Wednesday evening's Big Ten opener. With the victory, Penn State stretched its current winning streak to 10 consecutive matches. The streak dates back to a 3-0 win against UCLA at the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Palo Alto, Calif.

* Freshman Simone Lee powered a balanced offensive attack in the win against the Badgers with her fourth double-digit kill performance of the season, putting down a team-high 12 kills.

* Including Lee, six different Nittany Lions recorded at least seven kills. Senior Micha Hancock matched a career-high mark with nine kills on 12 errorless swings, hitting .750. Hancock also notched her third double-double of the season, dishing out 38 assists to go along with 10 digs, two blocks and two aces.

* Senior Micha Hancock earned her second consecutive Big Ten Setter of the Week honor for her performances last weekend. She shares the award this week with Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini.

* Penn State served up 15 aces in a straight set victory against DePaul last weekend to match a PSU program record. The Nittany Lions originally set the record for the most amount of aces in a three set match in 2002, posting 15 aces against Fairfield Sept. 7th.

* Heading into the week, the Nittany Lions' overall hitting percentage ranked first nationally. Hitting .385 on the year following the match against Wisconsin, Penn State's mark remains atop the Big Ten standings. Additionally, four PSU attackers are hitting a .349 or higher, led by senior Nia Grant's .494 hitting percentage, which leads the Big Ten. Earlier this week, her .525 hitting clip was tabbed fifth nationally.

The Nittany Lions' triumph at Wisconsin pushed head coach Russ Rose to 1,138 career wins, which keeps him atop the all-time list in the category. Last weekend, Rose moved into first place on the NCAA DI all-time list with four victories in the Penn State Alumni Classic, passing current Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji (1,136).

Since the two are still actively coaching, they'll go back and forth for the top spot this season. 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. The two are also one of just three active NCAA head coaches in all three divisions to have more than 1,100 career wins.

Leading the team in digs in 12 of 14 matches this season, senior libero Dominique Gonzalez highlighted the Big Ten season opener with her third 20-dig performance of the season. Gonzalez led the team with 21 digs in the win against the Badgers to match a season-high mark that she originally set in a 3-1 victory against American. Leading the squad with 3.58 digs per frame, her mark ranks 13th in the Big Ten.

Six freshman have made their collegiate debuts for Penn State in the last four weeks, including Ali Frantti, Heidi Thelen, Simone Lee, Lainy Pierce, Haleigh Washington and Skylar Dykstra. All ranked within's top 10, Frantti, Lee and Washington are already making solid contributions this season. Averaging 3.40 kills per set on .349 hitting, Frantti has played every match for the Nittany Lions this season. Lee ranks fifth on the squad with 90 kills on the year, averaging 2.37 per set on .292 hitting. Despite missing the first two weeks of the season, Washington's averaging 3.12 kills per set on .537 hitting, having played in eight sets.

Frantti's highlight of the season came with a double-double performance at then-No. 2 Stan¬ford with 22 kills and 11 digs. Lee capped off a productive weekend in Palo Alto, Calif. as well with her second double-digit kill performance of the season with 11 kills against UCLA. Lee followed that with a team-high 12 kills in the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin.

Pierce saw time on the court during key points of the match against the Cardinal, tallying her first collegiate ace. Washington made her rookie debut in the Villanova Classic, finishing third on the team with six kills on .545 hitting against Yale, adding a solo stuff. In four matches, Washington's averaging 3.17 kills per set on .533 hitting with three errors on the year.

Penn State has earned 12 of its 13 (92%) victories this season in straight sets. Within those 12 sweeps, PSU has held five teams (Iona, William & Mary, Eastern Illinois, DePaul, East Carolina) to less than 40 total points scored in a single match. Last season, the Nittany Lions earned 23 of their 34 victories in 3-0 sweeps.

Following a 4-0 weekend at home, Penn State remained No. 3 in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll for the third consecutive week. Prior to the No. 3 positioning, the Lions spent two consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 overall. The Nittany Lions are among six teams from the Big Ten to be featured in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll and one of three within the top 10.

Penn State remains on the road for the second week of Big Ten conference play. The Nittany Lions travel to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers Friday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. ET before heading to Iowa to square off against the Hawkeyes Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Friday's matchup will broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.   

Last Updated September 26, 2014