Match Preview: Penn State v. Stanford in Nike Big Four Classic

The Matchup: Penn State vs. Stanford

Game Time: Saturday, September 11th: (6:30 p.m. ET)

The Coaches: Both Penn State’s Russ Rose (1007-159, .864), and Stanford’s John Dunning (704-147, .827) are among the very best in their profession, having won more than 80% of their matches.  Rose and Dunning each have won four national titles. 

Media: GameTracker

The Teams

Penn State (AVCA Rank: #1)

2010 Season to Date: Following Penn State’s victory over Florida, the Nittany Lions, ranked #1 in  the most recent AVCA Poll, have reason for long-term optimism, but Coach Russ Rose knows this isn’t last year’s team and Stanford is a very, very formidable opponent.  Here’s what  Russ Rose had to say about Penn State prior at the start of pre-season practice.  We suspect he’d say pretty much the same thing about tonight’s match too:

The last two or three years, I thought on paper that we had a team that could legitimately compete for a national championship. I wouldn’t say that about this team because it’s unfair. What this team can do is improve throughout the season. I expect us to hit a lot of bumpy roads along the way. The conference is tough and our schedule presents us with some great challenges. Our goal in the end will be to be the best team we can be, to get better through the season, to play hard and play together. We’ll see where we end up.

Many people think that Penn State will lose to Stanford in the finals of the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic. That may well be true.  But if they do (if we had to venture a guess, we’d hide), we believe they will learn valuable lessons that will help them throughout the season as they work to get better, play hard, and play together.  We’ll see.  Until then, Penn State remains undefeated at 7-0, with victories over North Carolina (Aug. 27th 3-0), Villanova (Aug. 28th 3-0), Campbell (Aug. 28th 3-0), Seton Hall (Sept. 3rd 3-0), Colgate (Sept. 4th 3-0),Virginia Commonwealth (Sept. 4th 3-0), Florida (Sept. 10th 3-1).

Key Players: Blair Brown , (Sr., Opp., 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American, 2008 AVCA Second-Team All-American, 3.56kps, .345 hit %, 2.00 dps, 1.06 bps), Arielle Wilson, (Sr., MH, 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American, 2008 AVCA Second-Team All-American, 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, 1st in nation in 2009 with a NCAA record-breaking .540 hitting percentage, 2.67 kps, .472 hit %, 1.22 bps), Deja McClendon (Fr., OH, 3.67 kps, .413 hit %), Fatima Balza (Sr., MH, 1.69 bps, 1.15 kps), Alyssa D’Errico (Sr., L, 5.22 dps, 0.94 saps), Katie Kabbes, Cathy Quilico, and Kristin Carpenter (So. S, 9.59 aps, 2.12 dps).

Stanford (AVCA Rank #2)

2010 Season to Date: Stanford is undefeated so far in 2010, having gone 5-0 with victories over Tulane (Aug. 27th 3-0), Pepperdine (Aug. 28th 3-1), New Mexico (Aug. 29th 3-0), UC-Irvine (Sept. 2nd 3-0), Marquette (Sept. 4th 3-1), and Texas (Sept. 10th 3-0). Though Stanford is the favorite, it will face a tough challenge tonight against the Nittany Lions.  If they take Penn State for granted, they could have a long, tough, night.

Key Players: Cassidy Lichtman (Sr., S/OH, 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American, 3.62 kps, 5.54 aps, 2.77 dps, 1.15 bps), Alix Klineman (Sr., OH, 2009 AVCA Second-Team All-American, 2008 AVCA First-Team All-American, 2007 AVCA Second-Team All-American, 2007 Pacific-10 Freshman of the Year, 4.77 kps, .378 hit %, 2.77 dps), Gabi Ailes (Sr., L, 3.54 dps, 1.31 aps), and Carly Wopat (Fr., MB, 2.46 kps, .566 hit %, 1.23 bps).