Penn State women’s volleyball will finally take the court again Friday in Ann Arbor against Michigan after a lengthy and uncertain offseason that saw the Big Ten push many fall sports to the spring due to COVID-19.
Russ Rose will soon begin his 42nd season as head coach of the Nittany Lions, who will play a conference-only schedule this spring. Rose signed a four-year contract extension this offseason, which was announced on February 13. Below, we take a look at 10 interesting numbers pertaining to Penn State’s 2021 spring season.
A most bizarre offseason will come to an end after 404 days when the Nittany Lions face the Wolverines Friday at 6 p.m.
Big Ten teams are scheduled to play 22 regular season matches against 11 different conference opponents this season. The Nittany Lions will not play Iowa and Northwestern.
This spring’s NCAA women’s volleyball tournament will feature only 48 teams instead of the usual 64, including 32 automatic qualifiers and 16 at-large selections.
Rose currently sits at 1,299 career wins. His next victory will mark yet another milestone.
Penn State boasts four returning AVCA All-Americans in Jonni Parker, Kaitlyn Hord, Gabby Blossom, and Serena Gray. Parker and Blossom retained their captaincy roles after serving in the position alongside Kristin Krause last season.
The Nittany Lions welcomed eight newcomers this offseason in the form of five freshmen and three transfers. Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, Maddy Bilinovic, Macy Van Den Elzen, Sam McCool, and Allie Holland signed with the program as members of Penn State’s 2020 recruiting class, while Hannah Flowers (Memphis), Keatan Broughton (West Virginia), and Anastasiya Kudryashova (Rutgers) arrived in University Park after beginning their college careers elsewhere.
Not only is nine Jonni Parker’s jersey number, it also signifies Penn State’s ranking in the preseason AVCA coaches’ poll. The Wisconsin Badgers checked in at No. 1, while fellow Big Ten foes Nebraska (5) and Minnesota (7) also joined the Nittany Lions in the top 10. Purdue (13) and Michigan (24) earned spots in the rankings as well.
Penn State’s players have racked up 3,032 combined kills during their respective collegiate careers heading into this season. Here’s how the tally shook out — Hannah Flowers: 1,005, Jonni Parker: 764, Kaitlyn Hord: 530, Serena Gray: 494, Anastasiya Kudryashova: 134, Gabby Blossom: 56, Lauren Clark: 44, Jenna Hampton: 3, Keatan Broughton: 2
On the defensive side of things, this year’s roster already counts 1,918 career digs prior to Friday’s highly anticipated match against the Wolverines. Again, here’s how it broke down — Parker: 398, Blossom: 372, Hampton: 372, Flowers: 281, Broughton: 250, Gray: 100, Kudryashova: 63, Hord: 34, Macall Peed: 29, Clark: 16, Molly Russell: 3
Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, an outside hitter from Ocala, Florida, is believed to be the first Penn State women’s volleyball player to wear No. 0. She originally chose No. 11 — left vacant by the graduation of Tori Gorrell — before opting for a more unique number. Fitzpatrick was named an Under Armour All-American and earned Florida’s Gatorade State Player of the Year before enrolling at Penn State this past fall. She could wind up playing a significant role this spring given the depth situation at outside hitter for the Nittany Lions.