Match Preview – PSU vs. Ohio State — A Tale of Three Teams (Penn State, Penn State, and Ohio State)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

We’re Back — Are the Nittany Lions?

We’ve been tied up for a few days, but we’re back.  Here’s our match preview:

The Match: Penn State (15-4; 5-3 Big Ten) vs. Ohio State (16-5, 4-4 Big Ten)

Where and When: Columbus, OH, 7:00 p.m. E.T.

Media Coverage: Big Ten Network live (Randy Rhinehart – play-by-play;  Audrey Flaugh – color commentary).

Match Snapshot:

Penn State

We’re back, but the question for the Penn State Women’s Volleyball players is, are they back?  Or, more accurately, perhaps, which team will show up tonight against Ohio State? 

Will it be the team that defeated now-#1 Florida, 3-1, on Florida’s home court back in September?  Or will it be the team that sleepwalked through Saturday night’s match against Iowa, playing just well enough to defeat an overmatched (physically) but more than willing (mentally) opponent? 

We aren’t saying the Penn State players aren’t trying.  There is no question in our mind that the players want to win, and that they work hard to accomplish that goal.  But wanting to win and translating that into action on the court are two different things.  For the most part, Penn State has played well at home — last Friday’s match against Minnesota being a case in point. 

But the fact is, this year’s Penn State team hasn’t done very well on the road, for whatever reason.  It’s a young team — six freshman (Deja McClendon, Ariel Scott, Katie Slay, Maddie Martin, Mikinzie Moydell, and Ali Longo) and a sophomore (Kristin Carpenter) saw action over the weekend.  And, as we’ve pointed out throughout the season, the Nittany Lions are missing generational players like Megan Hodge and Alisha Glass, and a fiery competitor in Darcy Dorton. 

But every team in the Big Ten faces challenges of one sort or another.  Just look at Illinois, which has an entire hospital wing filled with injured players.  Last time we checked, Illinois was perched at the top of the Big Ten standings (tied with Michigan), with a two game lead over Penn State.  

So the explanations are all fine, and they’re all valid.  But the question remains: does this year’s Penn State team know how to face adversity, to master the challenges, and win.  Which Penn State team will show up tonight? 

From a statistical perspective, Penn State has been led offensively by 6-5 Sr. Opp. Blair Brown (3.69 kills/set, .303 attack %), 6-1 Fr. OH Deja McClendon (3.52 kills/set, .331 attack %), and 6-3 Sr. MH Arielle Wilson (2.75 kills/set, .425 attack %).  5-6 So. S Kristin Carpenter has averaged 10.50 assists/set, leading the Nittany Lions to a .303 attack %.  The Nittany Lions have held opponents to a .113 attack %.  Arielle Wilson leads the team with1.30 blocks/set, followed by 6-3 Sr. MH Fatima Balza (1.24 bps) and 6-6 Fr. MH Katie Slay (1.39 bps).  5-9 Sr. L Alyssa D’Errico is first on the team with 3.91 digs/set.

Here’s the Penn State Roster:

2010 Team Roster

NumberName PositionEligibilityHeightHometownState/Nation
1Ariel Scott

MHFr.6-5RidgewoodNew Jersey
2 Katie Kabbes OHJr.6-5RaleighNorth Carolina
3Fatima Balza MHSr.6-3MeridaVenezuela
4Jessica Ullrich DSSr.5-8WinfieldIllinois
5Kristin Carpenter S/DSSo.5-6MechanicsvilleVirginia
6Maddie MartinOHFr.6-2TampaFlorida
7Arielle Wilson MHSr.6-3BroadviewIllinois
8Erica Denny
9Blair Brown MH/OppSr. (RS)6-5 Purcellville Virginia
10Marika Racibarskas SSo.6-0ChathamNew Jersey
11Darcy Dorton

12Alyssa D'Errico L/DSSr.5-9ByronNew York
13 Megan Shifflett DS/SJr.5-6Falls ChurchVirginia
14Cathy QuilicoL/DSSr.5-1Thousand OaksCalifornia
15Maggie HardingDSFr.5-6State CollegePennsylvania
16Katie Slay
MHFr.6-6RaleighNorth Carolina
18Deja McClendon

19Krosby Pabst DSFr.5-7Long BeachCalifornia
22Mikinzie MoydellSFr.6-0Parker Colorado
23Ali LongoDSFr.5-6ChatfieldColorado

Ohio State

The Buckeyes met their challenges last weekend in impressive style, sweeping both Iowa (25-10, 25-16, 25-17) and 19th-ranked Minnesota (25-23, 25-20, 25-17).  Penn State beat those two teams as well, but dropped a set to the Golden Gophers and didn’t particularly shine against the Hawkeyes.  It looks like Ohio State Head Coach Geoff Carlston has the Buckeyes hitting their stride at just the right time.  With the match in Columbus, this will be a very, very tough one for Penn State.

On offense, the Buckeyes are led by 5-10 Sr. OH Katie Dullwho averages 4.04 points/set and 3.39 kills/set.   6-2 Sr. MB Kelli Barhorst (who was named Big Ten Player of the Week for her play against Iowa and Minnesota) leads the team with a .420 attack % and is second on the team with 3.35 points/set.  6-1 So. OH Emily Danks is third on the team with 3.13 points/set, and 5-10 Sr. MB Allie Schwarzwalder’s  .317 attack percentage is second on the team.  5-10 Sr. S Betsy Hone is averaging 9.91 assists/set and leads the Buckeyes wth 3.18 digs/set, followed by Dull (1.92 digs/set) and Hone (1.54 digs/set).  Allie Schwarzwalde’s  1.32 blocks/set is first on the Buckeyes, followed by 6-3 So. MB Mariah Booth’s 1.15 blocks/set.  

As a team, Ohio State is hitting .284, while holding opponents to a .154 attack %.  

Here’s the Buckeye’s 2010 Roster:

Hometown (Prev School)
2   Barhorst, Kelli MB 6-2 Jr. Anna, Ohio (Anna) (Team Atlantis)
10   Booth, Mariah MB 6-3 So. Kennesaw, Ga. (Kennesaw Mountain) (A5)
4   Bowler, Kelsey L/DS 5-6 So. Naperville, Ill. (Naperville North) (Sports Performance)
1   Danks, Emily OH 6-1 So. Round Rock, Texas (Round Rock) (Austin Juniors)
9   DiSalvatore, Davionna L/DS 5-8 Fr. Clearwater, Fla. (Countryside) (Tampa Bay Jrs)
16   Dull, Katie OH 5-10 Sr. Solon, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit) (Akron-Canton Elite)
5   Halverson, Susan L/DS 5-8 Sr. Apple Valley, Minn. (Apple Valley) (Northern Lights)
13   Hone, Betsy S 5-10 Sr. Celina, Ohio (Celina) (Team Atlantis)
11   Leary, Kaitlyn OH 6-1 Fr. Parma, Ohio (Padua Franciscan) (Cleveland Volleyball Company)
7   Mignin, Sarah L/DS 5-5 Jr. Sylvania, Ohio (Northview) (Premier)
8   Otto, Marissa L/DS 5-8 Fr. Cincinnati, Ohio (Mt. Notre Dame) (Cincy Classics)
15   Peterson, Amanda S 6-0 So. Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Glenbard East) (Sports Performance)
3   Schwarzwalder, Allie MB 5-10 Sr. North Royalton, Ohio (North Royalton) (Akron-Canton Elite)
17   Schwarzwalder, Amy OH 6-3 Fr. North Royalton, Ohio (North Royalton) (Maverick)
14   Szerszen, Anna OH 6-3 RGr. Conflans Ste Hne, France (Lyce’e International) (IFVB)