On January 9, 2016, Penn State held its annual post-season banquet to honor the members of team for their accomplishments in the just-completed season. All of the coaches and players spoke, with Coach Russ Rose as the featured speaker.
Coach Rose noted that Penn State’s success has led to very high expectations, but that is to be expected, and is fair. He was candid (shocker) about the season — the team didn’t accomplish everything the players and coaches (and fans) had hoped for, but he also pointed out that the season wasn’t without its successes. Four players earned AVCA All-America honors — 6-3 So. MB Haleigh Washington (1st team), RS Sr. RS/MB Aiyana Whitney and 6-2 Sr. OH Megan Courtney (2nd Team), and 6-2 So. OH Ali Frantti (honorable mention.)
The team ended the season ranked #9 by the AVCA — not the goal for a team that was ranked #1 11 weeks during the season (more than any other team), but better than more than 300 other D1 teams. Rose pointed out that only three teams were ranked #1 during the season (Penn State, USC and Washington), and none of those teams made the Final Four. The eventual champion — Nebraska — was not ranked #1 until the final poll.
A highlight of the banquet each year is announcement of the winners of the Coach’s Award and the Pops Award. The winner of the 2015 Coach’s Award was 6-2 Sr. OH Megan Courtney. The winner of the 2015 Pops Award was 5-5 Sr. libero Kendall Pierce. Below is a short description of each of these prestigious awards, some career highlights for the two winners, and tables showing the winners of these awards from 2010 through 2015.
The Coach’s Award (we believe it’s selected by Coach Rose — thus the singular) is awarded after each season to a player whose contributions were crucial to the team’s success and who embodied the qualities of leadership, toughness, competitiveness and commitment that Coach Rose values so highly.
Megan Courtney joined the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team for the 2012 season, earning AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the year. As a sophomore in 2013, Courtney played in 35 matches (34 starts) at outside hitter, with double-digit kills in 13 matches, leading the team in kills in eight contests. In 2014, she was named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, helping the Nittany Lions to their second consecutive NCAA Championship, and 6th in eight years. In 2015, Courtney served as a team Captain, earned AVCA 2nd-Team All America honors, finished second on the team with 3.04 kills per set on the year, ranked second on the team with 3.03 digs per set, and finished her career as one of eight Nittany Lions all-time to eclipse the 1,000 career kill/1,000 career digs mark. Coach Rose often commented on Courtney’s high volleyball IQ, and that she made players around her better. She will be missed.
Coach's Award - 2010 to 2015
The Pops Award is given each year to honor the memory of Clyde “Pops” Work, a fan of the team from the 1980’s. The “Clyde ‘Pops’ Work Women’s Volleyball Scholarship was established to honor his memory. A grandfather of one of the Penn State players, “Pops” adopted the team (and was adopted by the team), traveling to all of its matches and, as an 80-year old, could still be seen shagging balls during practices.
In announcing Kendall Pierce as the 2015 Pops Award winner, Coach Rose noted that every time she substituted into a match, he noticed that she always had a huge smile on her face, and that joyous approach to the sport epitomized Pierce’s commitment to the team. Pierce joined the team for the 2012 season, winning the starting libero for the final six matches of the season. A team Captain in 2015, Pierce was a Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree, Co-president of Athletes Take Action (an anti-bullying program for middle school students) and a Senior CLASS Award Candidate. Like Courtney (and all the seniors), she will be missed.
Pops Award - 2010 to 2015