October 15th Quotes: Coach Rose, Allyson Cathey, Jenna Hampton, Serena Gray

Penn State women’s volleyball held its seventh weekly media availability of the season Tuesday afternoon prior to practice at Rec Hall.

Head coach Russ Rose and a trio of sophomores in Allyson Cathey, Jenna Hampton, and Serena Gray spoke before a weekend road trip to Michigan and Michigan State. The players even answered a few Halloween-inspired questions.

Coach Rose on the common qualities of the program’s best leaders:

“I think the common qualities of good leaders are their confidence, their commitment to the team more than themselves, their ability to make others better. Those are some of the intangibles that separate the difference between being a captain and being a leader, because captains might be elected and leaders emerge. Who can lead your team many times are the people who are doing the things that the team needs all the time. Captains, sometimes, are doing things that are in their own best interest. They’re filling their resume instead of doing what’s best for the group.”

Coach Rose on his message to the team after the Maryland win:

“I think a couple of things were discussed at that point in time. I thought we played really well in the last game. We ended on a higher note than we played for the previous four games. Certainly the most important thing to recognize was in a rally-score match where you have to win three games, that you can’t get discouraged when the other team plays terrific in the first game and you don’t play well. Maryland hit .500 and sided out at 78 percent in the first game. They were exceptional and we weren’t ready to defend that sort of efficiency, and yet we played well enough to win the next two games. That’s part of being a young team, but we battled back. Certainly we weren’t very good in the fourth game, so those are things that younger players have to learn. The [Big Ten] is such a good conference that you don’t really have much time to have a game plan on, ‘How am I going to make a real learning point on certain things when we have to prepare for another opponent in less than 24 hours?’ We needed to get ready for Ohio State so we had a practice. We needed to work on a couple of other things and we did that. I thought we played pretty well against Ohio State, so I was much more pleased with how we played against Ohio State than how we played against Maryland. I also recognize that Maryland played really well and I would hate for anyone to look at it in any way that our performance against Maryland was based on us not being good as opposed to Maryland being really good.”

Coach Rose on a primary focus for the team against Michigan:

“For Michigan, especially, looking at them for the last couple of days on video, they’re a really strong serving team, so we have to be really good at serve reception and be ready to defend a real fast offense. Paige Jones is a really efficient attacker and [Cori] Crocker has been one of the more physical middles in the conference during her career. I think the fact that Michigan started with five wins in conference play and beat Ohio State twice is a good reflection that they’re playing really well. They’re at home and we’re going to have to be ready to play well on Friday night. We’re playing in their basketball arena so we know that there’s going to be an opportunity for a big crowd. We’ll have to be ready to play.”

Coach Rose on Gabi Bailey and what she needs to do to contribute more:

Gabi Bailey

“Gabi has a really nice volleyball IQ. I think she has a good touch on the ball. I felt when we recruited Gabi that the biggest challenge that she was going to have in college was the physical nature of the game. She just really needs to get stronger so that when she attacks the ball there’s a likelihood that the other team can’t handle her attacks. She has to get a little more offensive at the net, but her IQ is good and she has a good feel for the game. I’ve seen her play with really good volleyball players, so I know that she knows how to play and has a really good disposition. I’m optimistic that she can do things, but the part that she needs to work on is the part that she controls that I don’t really control.”

Coach Rose on the coming stretch of away matches:

“We’ve played six [conference] matches and nine of the next 14 are on the road. You have to be focused on the road. I just think so much of the challenges on the road are just handling the weather and handling the unexpected things that can happen when you’re traveling — being ready for the crowds and whatever the other teams have in store for you. Whatever their marketing people have and whatever the student sections have. I think the older players usually have a little better handle on those sort of things, but when three-fourths of your team are freshmen and sophomores you can’t really predict how everybody’s going to handle certain things. I guess that would be the part that I’m not really sure of.”

Coach Rose on how college volleyball has changed over the years:

“If we’re just looking at the game itself, the game was traditional scoring and the players were not nearly as skilled, not nearly as physical. I think those things have changed probably the most. Just the rally scoring changed how the game is played. I’m sure there are still a lot of teams and programs around the country that still bus to their events and take vans and things like that. I don’t think the schools in the Power Five conferences are traveling the way that they did maybe 30 or 40 years ago. I think the level of support in college athletics has changed significantly across the board, but certainly all sports I think have changed. Demands on the participants are still the same. The individual sports and the team sports, the opportunity to demonstrate that you can sacrifice and be a good team member and make the group better, those things are probably no different now than they were 30 or 40 years ago for the people who understand the importance of doing those things.”

Coach Rose on his approach to recruiting these days:

“Recruiting has changed so much now. It’s really different. If I do [write handwritten notes], they’re not very good because my handwriting is a lot messier now. I still send notes to all the players every year when I send out media guides to all of our All-Americans and all the people who have been significant donors to the program. I know my handwriting is a mess. I know if they get it and they hold it up to each other, they say, ‘Oh, Coach is getting worse every year.’ I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, because I’m not so good with technology. I’m thinking people who are really good with technology probably have already mastered how easy it is to do it the other way. I just don’t think that’s as personal, I guess.”

Allyson Cathey on whether she believes in supernatural things:

Allyson Cathey

“Personally, no. With the whole Halloween ordeal, my family’s not a huge, ‘Oh, it’s Halloween, let’s decorate the house and do all this.’ We’ll take my brother trick-or-treating, but as far as the supernatural ghost stuff, we don’t believe in that stuff. We try not to. Stick on the safe side.”

Allyson Cathey on her biggest fear:

“I would say my biggest fear is drowning. The thought of not being able save yourself from a big body of water is pretty scary. That’s probably my biggest fear.”

Allyson Cathey on why she chose to wear No. 22:

“Well, my lucky number is 2 and 2 was a small, and I can’t fit in a small, so I had to get a bigger size. That’s one reason. Another reason is, of course, a former player here, Simone Lee, was No. 22 and she was a big role model for me when I was younger growing up. Just watching her play and watching her come here, she’s my position so she was a big part of choosing the number and wearing that jersey.”

Allyson Cathey on the best part of traveling with her teammates:

“I would say just the feeling of getting to play in other gyms. Honestly, just the whole travel part about it, usually when we get there we’ll discover where were at around the hotel and stuff. That’s just a good team-bonding thing to get to do. Playing in the other gyms, it’s cool to see how other gyms can really affect your play and affect the team dynamic, but we try hard to focus on what we’re doing and the skills rather than the location.”

Allyson Cathey on areas of focus for the team while playing on the road:

“I would say, with us, our serve and pass game might be a little shaky here and there, but that’s why we practice before we play. That’s a big thing we work on is serving and passing, because that’s a big part of the game. That can make or break the game. I think, as far as our team dynamic, we try to lean on each other when we’re traveling and just get the feeling and get in a rhythm and then just go from there.”

Allyson Cathey on what stands out to her about Gabi Bailey:

“She’s just a big ball of energy. She’s super goofy. If anybody’s ever down, she’ll just run up to you and just jump on you and make you happy. She’s just the type of person that every team needs to have. She’s just a very light person, she’s always working hard, she’s always taking what the coaches are saying to her and trying to apply it to her game. I love her. That’s my little wing man.”

Allyson Cathey on whether or not a “perfect” set exists:

“I would say there’s no such thing as a perfect set. Every set is going to be different. There’s not going to be a consistency of a set. There can be a consistency of a play, but not necessarily a set. As a hitter, whatever set you get you have to take care of it. You have to try to find shots, you have to try to get a kill. It’s more the hitter’s aspect to take on whatever you get. Just as the setter has to take on whatever pass she gets. I think Gabby [Blossom] does a good job of being consistent with the sets and everything. I think it’s just a big part on us to take what she gives us and make it good.”

Jenna Hampton on why she chose to wear No. 15:

Jenna Hampton

“My favorite number is actually 11, but obviously Tori was No. 11 so they sent me options. My birthday is on the 15th of September, so I was like, ‘I’ll just pick 15.’ Honestly, it fits well. I don’t mind it. I like it. I thought I was going to be weirded out by it and upset, but I actually really like 15 now. So yeah, I’m okay with it.”

Jenna Hampton on her favorite moment from the road so far this season:

“Even though we lost to Wisconsin, I have a lot of family from there. I had like three of my cousins, both my grandparents, a lot of people there for me. It was really cool to see all of them there. It was upsetting that we lost, but it was still really good to see all of them. Definitely Wisconsin, because we didn’t go there last year, either. It was really cool for them to all come and watch me for the first time.”

Jenna Hampton on the challenges of competing away from Rec Hall:

“It’s definitely hard to not be at home. It’s difficult to play on the road. It’s easy to shut out what’s going on around you. Especially being at home, it’s really easy to feed off the energy from the fans than when you’re not at home. It’s not negative [on the road], but it’s more not there for you. You don’t have that energy to feed off of, so you kind of have to bring your own and really trust each other with that. I think that’s the most difficult part.”

Jenna Hampton on what she’s learned from Kendall White:

Kendall White

“I’ve learned so much from Kendall. She’s just so aggressive and very confident. I think that’s what’s really good about her. She goes for every ball, she reads the play well, she just has a really good volleyball IQ. She helps me a lot even when she reads something that I didn’t see. She’ll tell me, even if the ball didn’t come to me, ‘Hey, you weren’t in the right spot.’ There’s just so much you can learn from her — even just watching her.”

Jenna Hampton on whether she believes in ghosts:

“I personally am a wimp, so I get really scared about that stuff. I’m not kidding. Oh my gosh, it’s terrible. When I hear that, I definitely run away from it. So yeah, I do believe in it. I haven’t had an experience from it, but I’ve heard stories. When people do ouija boards or whatever, that stuff just scares me. I run the opposite way from that. I do believe in that stuff, that’s why I run. It’s scary.”

Jenna Hampton on her biggest fear:

“I’m from Florida so I’m really scared of sharks. Sharks terrify me. I love surfing but I won’t go if I’m too deep. I’m definitely scared of sharks. I don’t like being alone. I don’t like being by myself in the dark.”

Jenna Hampton on the team’s best hair braider:

“Tori Gorrell. She does my hair every game. I’m superstitious, so ever since she braided my hair, I thought we’ve been playing really well. I don’t know. It just looks good, too. You don’t have to worry about it being in your face and it just doesn’t bother you. And you look good. Gabi Bailey’s also very good. She’ll be my go-to next year once Tori’s gone.”

Serena Gray on Jonni Parker’s setting skills:

Serena Gray

“She definitely contacts the ball a lot higher than Gabby, so that takes a lot of adjusting, but overall I think she’s right there with Gabby. She’s really strong. She’s got good defensive skills like Gabby, too, so that’s really going to make them compete during practice. That should be interesting to see. Just getting used to Jonni being in a different rotation, seeing her on your left instead of your right as a setter, it’s just going to take some getting used to. I think it’s definitely going to be beneficial to us having another hitter blocking in the front row to give us some more options.”

Serena Gray on Penn State’s mentality on the road:

“Business casual. There’s a hyphen there, though. When we land, we’re like, ‘Okay, we’re here. Let’s get some sleep, take care of our business, get out.’ But at the same time, we like to have fun. We like to check out the farmers’ markets and explore the cities during our free time. We make it fun, but at the same time, we know what we’re there to do and that’s what takes priority.”

Serena Gray on why she chose to wear No. 16:

“I went to high school and they just gave me No. 16, so I was like, ‘I’ll just keep it.’ It’s a comfortable number. I was telling someone else this the other day, 3 is uncomfortable, 17 is weird, 19 is weird. Odd numbers. Some even numbers like 8 are weird. Some numbers just don’t feel right, you know what I mean, but 16 is just so comfortable.”

Serena Gray on whether she believes in supernatural things:

“Yes. 100 percent. I’ve got lots of stories, but most of them are I believe my loved ones like to hang around. I used to have this aunt who really sucked at cutting pie, and it was a running joke every year — Thanksgiving, Christmas she would cut almost all the way to the other end, or if it was a cobbler she would scoop out the middle. Then the year after she passed, obviously we miss her and everything, we looked and the pie had a scoop out of the middle. We were like, ‘Oh, her legacy lives on.’ It wasn’t her, but it was like, ‘Aw, that’s something she would do.'”

Serena Gray on her biggest fear:

“Coming in second. But legit. Not like in sports, just like in life.”

Serena Gray on the freshmen performing skits before matches:

“Before every game away or here, we have the freshmen do a little skit. Usually it’s like them making fun of us — things we did. One time, this girl pooped her pants, so they did a skit about that. Or we’ll do skits about the other team. If they do something funny during a game, we’ll replicate it or exaggerate it. Sometimes we’ll roast Coach [Rose] a little bit. He likes to pick on us during four-on-four. One time, we had this skit where one of our girls was dressed up like coach and they were just pelting balls. It was hilarious. It definitely loosens us up before the game.”