By the DigNittanyVolleyball.com Staff
This is the third part of a four-part Season Preview of the 2014 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team.
- Part 1 focused on the Setter and Outside Hitter positions.
- Part 2 covered the Opposite/Right Side and Middle Blocker positions.
- Part 3 looks at the Libero and Defensive Specialist candidates.
- Finally, Part 4 will focus on Head Coach Russ Rose, and his new staff members — Associate Head Coach Salima Rockwell, Assistant Coach Stevie Mussie, Director of Operations Kevin Burch, and Volunteer Assistant Coach Jay Goddu.
Things undoubtedly will change. If something major comes to our attention (other than our slacker staff actually doing some work — which would be major, but of limited interest outside of DigNittanyVolleyball World Headquarters), we’ll endeavor to provide updates to these Previews.
Who's Back: Recept/Dig Leaders from 2013
Dominique Gonzalez, Lacey Fuller, Kendall Pierce, Lara Caraway, Laura Broerman and Carley Muller all return from the 2013 team. Joining them will be 5-9 RS Fr. transfer Skylar Dykstra and true Fr. 5-8 Lainy Pierce. It’s a solid and deep group, and competition for playing time will be intense.
Still to be determined is how the graduation of 6-1 OH Deja McClendon (2nd in digs/set and 5th in blocking in 2013), 6-4 RS/Opp Ariel Scott (tied for 2nd in blocking in 2013) and 6-6 MB Katie Slay (3rd in NCAA DI in blocks/set) will affect the defense. Those three (and their collective big-block) were integral parts of a defensive unit that allowed the fewest opponent aces/set of any Penn State team in the past 12 years. Take a look at the table below for the year-by-year averages:
Ace Defense: Team Serve-Receive Stats from 2002 to 2013
As Head Coach Russ Rose said in the opening section, the staff and the 2014 team obviously have their work cut out for them. Here’s a quick look at the players who will be competing for back row playing time in 2014:
#4 Dominique Gonzalez, 5-6 L, Sr., San Antonio, TX
The Buzz on Dom: A team Captain in 2013, Dom is a calm and steadying presence on the court, with a superior first-touch on serve-receive. Passing is a strength and her defense is solid. Will be looking to build on a standout 2013 season, in which she led the team with 3.28 digs/set.
Dominique Gonzalez's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Dominique Gonzalez's Career Serving Stats
2013 (Junior): Among the highlights from 2013 were:
- Leading the team with 3.28 digs/set;
- Totaling 19 digs, two assists — and . . . a kill! — in a 3-2 win over #11 Minnesota on October 9th;
- Leading the team with 18 digs in the 3-1 comeback win at #17 Michigan on November 1st;
- Registering a team-best 11 digs in the 3-0 win at #14 Michigan State on November 2nd;
- Posting three assists and 24 digs in the 3-1 win over Northwestern on November 22nd;
- Totaling 15 digs in the comeback 3-2 win over #7 Stanford on December 14th in the NCAA Tournament Regional Finals;
- Tying (with Deja McClendon) for team lead with 13 digs in Penn State’s dominating 3-0 win over #3 Washington on December 19th in the NCAA Semifinals; and
- Helping secure the Nittany Lion’s sixth national title (and fifth in seven years) with 20 digs in the 3-1 victory over #12 Wisconsin in the NCAA Finals on December 21st.
2012 (Sophomore): Started all 36 matches at libero (125 sets); ranked first on the team with 457 digs and 3.66 digs per set; in the NCAA Tournament, she registered a match-high 12 digs vs. Kentucky (12/7), topped the squad with 20 digs vs. Minnesota (12/8), and totaled 22 digs vs. Oregon (12/13).
2011 (Freshman): 29 matches (six starts), totaling 123 digs for the season (1.46 digs per set).
High School: a PrepVolleyball.com “Frosh 59”, “Soph 79” and a Top 100 Senior Ace (#70); Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50”; two-time All-Texas Team member; member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars.
Here’s a video interview with Dominique from 2012:
#33 Lacey Fuller, 5-6, DS, Sr., San Diego, CA
The Buzz on Lacey: Plays fast, hard, with seeming disregard for life and limb. Competes all-out for every point. Passing and defense have improved each season.
Lacey Fuller's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Lacey Fuller's Career Serving Stats
2013 (Junior): Among the highlights from Lacey’s Junior season were:
- Averaging 1.19 digs/set (fifth-best on the team and second-best among the defensive specialists);
- Helping Penn State bounce back after it’s shocking loss to Michigan State on September 27th, totaling seven digs, an assist and an ace in the 3-1 win over Michigan on September 28th;
- Registering an ace, an assist and five digs in the hard-fought 3-0 win over Wisconsin in Rec Hall on October 12th;
- Posting one ace and three digs in the 3-0 win over #14 Purdue on November 8th;
- Coming up with six digs and one assist in the B1G title-clinching 3-0 win over Ohio State on November 27th;
- Recording eight digs in a 3-0 win over Utah on December 7th, as Penn State advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16;
- Recording eight digs in the 3-1 comeback win over Michigan State in the NCAA Regional Semifinals on December 13th;
- Setting a new season-best with nine digs in the fifth-set comeback win over #7 Stanford in the NCAA Regional Finals on December 14th;
- Posting a dig and an ace in Penn State’s dominating 3-0 win over #3 Washington on December 19th in the NCAA Semifinals; and
- Registering five digs in Penn State’s hard-fought 3-1 victory over #12 Wisconsin in the NCAA Finals on December 21st.
2012 (Sophomore): played in all 36 matches (119 sets) ranking fifth on the team with 169 digs (1.42 digs per set).
2011 (Freshman): played in 30 matches, totaling 59 digs (0.88 digs per set — seventh on the team); was second on the team with a career-high 13 digs vs. Texas (9/10).
High School: won four varsity letters at Torrey-Pines High School in Carmel Valley, California, as her team won the 2007 CIF Championship and the 2010 League Championship; 2007 Defensive Player of the Year; her club team won the silver medal at the Miami Junior Olympics in 18-Open in 2009 and finished fifth at the Reno in 18-Open in 2010; four-time Scholar Athlete.
Here’s an interview with Lacey from 2011:
#2 Lara Caraway, 5-4 DS, Jr., Evans City, PA
The Buzz on Lara: A hard worker and competitor, Caraway will be looking to earn playing time as a serving specialist and defensive specialist.
Lara Caraway's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Lara Caraway's Career Serving Stats
Lara Caraway, a 5-4 DS from Evans City, PA, won four varsity letters for the Mars Area School District (she was homeschooled), and served as the team captain. She earned 2011 First Team All-State honors and was a first team All-WPIAL first team selection, recording 291 digs during the 2011 season.
2013 (Sophomore): Among the highlights from Lara’s Sophomore season were:
- Recording an assist and two digs in a 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University on September 14th;
- Posting two digs in a 3-0 win over Yale on September 21st;
- Registering a dig in the 3-1 win over Northwestern on November 22nd;
- Nailing her first service ace of 2013 in the 3-1 win over #20 Illinois on November 23rd, to help Penn State clinch at least a share of its 16th B1G title; and
- Appearing in Penn State’s dominating 3-0 win over #3 Washington on December 19th in the NCAA Semifinals.
2012 (Freshman): Played in 16 matches (24 sets) with three aces and five digs; debuted against Morehead State (8/24).
Here’s Lara’s “Meet the Freshmen” video from 2012:
#3 Kendall Pierce, 5-6 DS, Jr., Eden, NY
The Buzz on Kendall: Nearly tripled her playing time in 2013 (appearing in 83 sets compared to 29 in 2012),and will be looking to improve on that showing in 2014. Good teammate with a good volleyball IQ.
Kendall Pierce's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Kendall Pierce's Career Serving Stats
2013 (Sophomore): Among the highlights of Kendall’s Sophomore season were:
- Notching a dig in Penn State’s tough 2-3 loss to #6 Texas in the Nike Big Four Tournament on September 7th;
- Recording a service ace, as the Nittany Lions bounced back with a 3-0 win against #8 Florida in the Nike Big Four Tournament on September 8th;
- Recording three digs in the 3-0 win over Yale on September 21st;
- Posting two digs in the 2-3 loss to #15 Michigan State on September 27th;
- Notching a service ace and a dig in the 3-2 win over #11 Minnesota on October 9th;
- Recording an ace and two digs in a tough 3-0 win over #14 Wisconsin on November 15th.
- Posting three digs in Penn State’s B1G title-clinching sweep of Ohio State on November 27th;
- Totaling three digs in the 3-0 win over LIU Brooklyn on December 6th in Penn State’s NCAA Tournament opener;
- Recording a dig in Penn State’s 3-0 win over Utah on December 7th, as the Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16;
- Appearing in the fifth-set comeback win over #7 Stanford in the NCAA Regional Finals on December 14th; and
- Playing in three sets in Penn State’s hard-fought 3-1 victory over #12 Wisconsin in the NCAA Finals on December 21st.
2012 (Freshman): Played 18 matches (29 sets) as a serving and defensive specialist; recorded nine aces and seven digs, with two aces vs. Illinois (11/8) and two aces against Bowling Green (12/1).
High School: Won three letters and was a two-year team captain at Eden Junior-Senior High School in Eden, N.Y.; led her team to the State Championship three times; two-time All-WNY First Team honoree; MVP at State Championship in 2011; President of the National Honor Society and the Student Council.
Here’s Kendall’s “Meet the Freshmen” video from 2012:
#24 Laura Broerman, 5-4 DS, So., Colorado Springs, CO
The Buzz on Laura: Another hardworking kid who brings good quickness, coverage and defense. Will be in the mix for playing time in 2014.
Laura Broerman's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Year Class SP MP
RE Dig Dig/S 2014 2/So. 18 n/a
0 3 0.17 2013 1/Fr. 5 5 -- 2 0.40
Laura Broerman's Career Serving Stats
Year Class SP MP
SA SA/Set SE 2014 2/So. 18 n/a
2 0.11 n/a 2013 1/Fr. 5 0 1 0.20 0
2013 (Freshman): Laura came up with a dig in her first action for the Nittany Lions in the 3-0 win over Syracuse on August 31st. Also appeared in the 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University on September 14th, registered a dig in the 3-0 win over Albany on September 20th, and tallied the first service ace of her Penn State career in the 3-0 win over Indiana on November 9th.
High School: Won four varsity letters in volleyball (10 total letters) at St. Mary’s High School and served as team captain in her senior year; four-year member of the honor roll.
Here’s Laura’s “Meet the Freshmen” video:
#10 Carley Muller , 5-7 DS, So., Manhattan Beach, CA
The Buzz on Carley: Brings experience, good passing and defense, and a nice feel for the game. Will compete for time as a defensive and serving specialist.
Carley Muller's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Carley Muller's Career Serving Stats
2013 (Freshman): Saw action in the 3-0 win over Syracuse on August 31st, the 3-0 win over Central Arkansas on September 14th, the 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University on September 14th, and the sweeps of Eastern Kentucky and Yale on September 21st. Also appeared in the 3-2 win over #11 Minnesota on October 9th, the sweep of Iowa on October 26th, and the 3-0 win against Indiana on November 9th.
High School: A two-year team captain at Mira Coast High School, where she was named Bay League Libero of the Year after her senior year; helped her club team to third-place at the 17 Open division Junior Nationals and second-place at the Las Vegas Classic in the 17 Open division. Was on the honor roll in all eight semesters.
Here’s Carley’s “Meet the Freshmen” video, courtesy of GoPSUsports:
#13 Taylor Krause, 5-6 DS/S, So. Allentown, PA
The Buzz on Taylor: Can set, pass, and defend. Will have the opportunity to compete for a variety of roles as the season progresses.
Taylor Krause's Career Recept/Dig Stats
Taylor Krause's Career Serving Stats
2013 (Freshman): Posted a dig in the 3-0 win over Syracuse on August 31st, her first match for Penn State. Appeared in the 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University on September 14th and the 3-0 win over Albany on September 20th. On September 21st, recorded two digs in the 3-0 win over Eastern Kentucky and one dig in the 3-0 win over Yale. Appeared in the 3-0 win over #24 Ohio State on October 23rd and in the sweep of Iowa on October 26th, when she posted a dig. Also saw action in the 3-0 win against Indiana on November 9th, and played in her first NCAA Tournament match in the 3-0 win over LIU Brooklyn on December 6th.
High School: Taylor was team captain and won letters all four years at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. During those four years, Parkland won three Lehigh Valley Conference and district championships and one Pennsylvania state championship. In 2012, Taylor was named a Max Preps All-American, an Under Armour Second Team All-American and a Mizuno Third Team All-American.
Here’s Taylor’s “Meet the Freshmen” video, courtesy of GoPSUsports.com:
#9 Skylar Dykstra , 5-9 Fr., Redondo Beach, CA
The Buzz on Skylar: Skylar has good skills and comes from a volleyball family. Her success will be based on her ability to get back into the gym and train.
2013 (at UCLA): Redshirt season.
High School: Started for four years at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California, where she earned First Team All-CIF honors, was named the 2012 California Gatorade POY, and was the #54 Prep Volleyball Senior Ace. Her father, Jerry Joe Dykstra, played basketball at Western Illinois, where he set an NCAA record for consecutive made free throws that stood for 19 years, was drafted by the Phoenix Suns and played professionally in Europe.
Here’s a video of Skylar from 2012:
#8 Lainy Pierce , 5-8 DS, Fr., Eden, NY
The Buzz on Lainy: A player with lots of experience at various positions, who will be counted on to serve, pass and defend.
High School: Played on four New York State Championship teams, was the New York State Class C MVP in 2013 and 2012, a New York Gatorade Player of the Year finalist in 2012, and played for Niagara Frontier on WEVA Regional Championship teams from 2008 to 2013. Both Lainy’s parents were scholarship athletes at Penn State (her dad, Robert, Robert Pierce set the men’s volleyball team single-season service ace record with 47 aces, and held it until 2007, and her mom, Kiernan, ran the 800 meters for the women’s track team — anchoring the sprint medley to a 3:53.20 finish, which stands as the fifth-best in Penn State history).
Here’s a video of Lainy from 2013: