Penn State Starts Long Trek with Weekend Wins; Club Coach on Evaluating Setters (Including Micha Hancock)

Weekend Wins over Stanford and Texas a Good Start (But Just a Start)

Penn State’s home opener wins over Stanford and Texas were exciting and filled with many positives for the future — 5-11 So. Micha Hancock’s play at setter; improved backrow play from 5-6 So. L Dominique Gonzalez, 5-6 So. DS Lacey Fuller and 5-6 Sr. S/DS Kristin Carpenter; a solid (actually, more than solid) match from 6-2 Fr. OH Megan Courtney; and clutch play from 6-4 Jr. Opp/MH Ariel Scott, 6-1 Jr. OH Deja McClendon, 6-6 Jr. MH Katie Slay, 6-2 So. MH Nia Grant and 6-2 Jr. OH Maddie Martin.

The weekend gave Penn State fans plenty of reason for optimism. But it’s a long season, and this is only the beginning.’s Kelsey Detweiler spoke with Coach Rose about his thoughts on the weekend matches and how his team performed. Here are some of the highlights:

After a winning weekend that puts Penn State at a perfect 5-0 mark to start the 2012 season, coach Rose said that he was frankly just impressed.

“We beat a good team with a great crowd again in Rec Hall and it’s a progression for sure,” said Rose.

Rose noted the strong play and composure of Courtney in particular, who was the only freshman that started and remained in the entire match on Saturday night.

“I thought she passed well,” Rose said of Courtney. “She’s a very relaxed passer and she takes some good swings. She hit .530 and didn’t have any hitting errors so that’s a good thing. The three service errors weren’t her best offering but she did some things well and we needed her to do that.”

For the complete article from, Click Here.

Below are video highlights of the two matches from

Club Coach Talks with DigNittany About Class of 2011 Setters 

As we reported yesterday, the B1G named Penn State’s 5-11 So. S Micha Hancock as its Player of the Week and Setter of the Week (setting off a blizzard of internet postings about why there isn’t a B1G Libero of the Week.  That question is way above our paygrade.) 

Hancock’s performance in the Nike Big Four Classic was impressive.  As noted in the B1G’s press release, Hancock:

  • Guided No. 4 Penn State to wins over No. 9 Stanford (3-2) and No. 2 Texas (3-0) to win the Nike Big Four Classic title;
  • Averaged 10.9 assists per set, pacing the offense to a .242 hitting percentage;
  • Notched a double-double against the Cardinal, tallying 53 assists and 23 digs, adding three aces and four blocks;
  • Recorded 34 assists against the Longhorns, and chipped in five kills in seven swings; and
  • Reeled in her first Player and Setter of the Week awards.

Hancock isn’t new to the spotlight.  She definitely made a splash on the national scene in 2011 — particularly because of her deadly serve (she ranked second nationally in service aces, and shattered Penn State’s record for service aces in a season). At the end of the season, she was named the B1G’s Freshman of the Year. 

All of which got us thinking about how Micha Hancock was viewed as a high school senior.  One marker is the Senior Aces — an annual listing of the top 100 high school seniors, as determined  by 120 college coaches who have asked to be involved in the process.   

By that measure, she was rated as the #41 Senior Ace by for the Class of 2011, with six setters rated above her: #8 Kellie McNeil  (who recently announced she will transfer from Minnesota), #10 Megan Moenoa (UCLA), #16 Courtney Thomas (Wisconsin), #20 Val Nichol (Purdue), #28 Caylin Mahoney (who transferred from Cincinnati to Texas State University after the 2011 season), and #30 Emily Young (USC).

We asked a club coach, who has coached top club and college setters (and top players at other positions, as well), to give us his thoughts about the challenges of evaluating high school setters, and how Micha Hancock might be viewed today among that cohort of 2011 setters.

DigNittany: Without getting into specifics, do you think Micha Hancock would be viewed today as the seventh-best setter/player in that group of seven players from the 2011 Senior Aces?

Club Coach:  Coming out of high school, Micha Hancock was ranked the 7th best setter in the 2011 class by Prep Volleyball.  All rankings are based on the opinion of one person or, as in this case, a group of people.  Relative to the group in front of her, Hancock was not as polished skill-wise, given her club experience, as well as the fact that she was really more of a setter/hitter.  It should be noted’s list isn’t intended to be a list of who will be the best setters in college.  If it were, I believe the list would look different.

Hancock is a work in progress, with unlimited upside.  She came to Penn State more a great athlete in the setting position than a great setter, much the way Alisha Glass, and Salima Davidson did.  Her play-making ability, athleticism, competitiveness and, certainly, her serve were ahead of her “pure” setting skill.  That gap closes each time she takes the court.  Although it is difficult to compare her as a college setter with the players ranked ahead, she made an immediate impact in her first weekend, and being named BiG Ten POW and SOW shows that although she is still an impact player, she is also establishing herself as an elite setter.

DigNittany: How difficult is it to assess setter talent at that age, and what are some of the things that make it difficult to rank players who are still in high school?

Club Coach: Assessing how good of a college setter a  16 or 17-year old player can be  can be either fairly easy or difficult depending on the player’s skill set and where she is in her development.  If you are looking at a setter from, say, Sports Performance, you already have a good sense for what their setting ability is, and you are looking at a fairly finished product.  With a player like Hancock, whose setting skill was less polished, it can be harder. 

Coach Rose likes to have great athletes at that position.  He also is someone who is exceptional at developing setters.  Salima and Glass are great examples of great athletes who were not highly skilled setters, yet who developed into great setters. Hancock, on top of being a great athlete, has the “it” factor.  While coaches may not be able to explain what “it” is, you just know it when you see it.

DigNittany: Thanks for your time.  We appreciate it.