A Moment of Contemplation
It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since 9-11-2001. It’s worth pausing to contemplate what we lost, and what we’ve learned. Mrs. Nyline and I were both in Manhattan that morning — I was about 1/4 mile from the second tower when it went down, and Mrs. Nyline was in her midtown office trying to ascertain whether consultants from her firm who had meetings scheduled in the World Trade Center were OK (they were). This morning, she told me that she believed the best way we could honor those who were injured or who did not survive, was to be mindful of some commonplace we enjoy in daily life. In our case, it was morning coffee. We shared a pot, counting ourselves lucky that we could go on with the rest of our day.
Weekend Wrap with Talking Head
After three losses in a row, Penn State needed positive performances against Siena, Hofstra and Syracuse. All things considered, they got them (though the coaches, being coaches, undoubtedly can point to lots of things that need to be cleaned-up before the B1G season opens in two weeks (or before next weekends matches, for that matter).
We spoke this afternoon with Talking Head, who played D1 volleyball and has coached for many years, about his thoughts on how the team performed. Here’s the interview, edited for length and clarity:
DigNittany: The headline for our story about the Syracuse match is “‘Smalls’ Come up Big as Nittany Lions Sweep Orange to Capture Syracuse Classic.” To our eyes, the “smalls” — 5-5 Fr. libero Kendall White, 5-7 So. DS Keeton Holcomb, 5-8 Jr. DS Lainy Pierce, 5-6 Sr. DS Taylor Krause, and 5-4 Fr. DS Emily Sciorra — played well throughout the weekend. Your thoughts?
Talking Head: Absolutely. White has been solid all season. Keeton Holcomb had a good three days. Against Syracuse she was a major player. Krause didn’t see as much court time as the previous weekend, but both she and Sciorra were effective when they came in, and that’s a great sign. Those players are starting to know their roles. Coach Rose seems to be giving them more latitude, and with that latitude comes confidence. And confidence is so important to how a player performs. It shows up in their body language, it shows up statistically, and I think it shows up in their ability to move on from adversity.
DigNittany: How does the extra latitude manifest itself?
Talking Head: Being able to sometimes go beyond what’s in the game plan — when the player reads that an opponent is cheating up, they might decide to serve short, even though that wasn’t in the game plan. Or they might step in to set a ball, when that’s the right play, even if that might not be the first option. You’re seeing that our smalls, who handle the ball so well, are starting to get assists and helping the offense flow. Latitude can also mean that the player is in less of a one-and-done situation — where one mistake, and you’re back at the end of the line.
DigNittany: Your thoughts on the “Bigs”?
Talking Head: Simone Lee is consistently playing well, Haleigh Washington is starting to pick up her game, Tori Gorrell is playing at a high level, and Heidi Thelen has had some very good matches. Ali Frantti has struggled offensively — we all know where she is, but I believe that very soon she’ll be producing at a much higher level. She’s going to be there.
DigNittany: How much of the team’s improved performance this weekend would you attribute to the talent gap between Penn State and its three opponents?
Talking Head: Hofstra is a team that’s very similar to LIU from a couple of seasons ago — maybe only one or two Americans. They have alot of players who have played at a high level for a long time in Europe. They don’t know who the Penn State players are, they didn’t play against them in Club, and they aren’t phased by their accolades. They’re just out there playing hard and enjoying what they’re doing. So Hofstra has good solid players and was a tough opponent. Syracuse is a very tall team — three or four players in the 6-3/6-4 range. Finally, against Syracuse, the gym was packed (1143 — their largest crowd ever). But I’m a believer that teams play up to the level of their competition. So I don’t think you should significantly discount Penn State’s performances based on the opposition.
DigNittany: Turning to statistics, Tori Gorrell is leading the team in solo blocks (12), and total blocks (1.45/set — Haleigh Washington is second at 1.00 blocks/set.) What are some of the factors that have contributed to her success to date?
Talking Head: Clearly, she is listening to the coaching staff, and she is working hard on her craft. I think she is gifted with nice lateral movement, and she’s reading the sets very well.
DigNittany: Thanks, as always, for your time. We look forward to speaking with you next week.