Fast Facts: The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten title last year and finished the year with a 29-3 record. The season ended on a down note when they were upset by UCLA in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Graduation claimed second-team All-American Syndie Nadeau and four-year starter Ashley Pederson, but they will be replaced by a group of talented freshmen. Nadeau and Pederson are now playing professional volleyball in Europe.
New Blood: Coach Russ Rose recognized the need to recruit tall and athletic players, and he signed a talented crop of front row players. The best of the bunch is 6-foot-2 Christa Harmotto from Hopewell High in Aliquippa, Pa., which also produced Nittany Lion linebacker Paul Posluszny. Harmotto traveled to Turkey this summer with the U.S. Junior National Team.
Joining Harmotto at the net will be 6-4 Nicole Fawcett, who was the 2004 Ohio Player of the Year. Rose is singing the praises of defensive specialist Joanie Guman, who is the daughter of PSU football great Mike Guman and sister of former Nittany Lion Andrew Guman. Serving specialist Robert Holehouse could also see time. Holehouse was home-schooled and has already earned close to 40 college credits
Familiar Faces: Libero Kaleena Walters and setter Sam Tortorello could be the best ball-handing duo in the country. The senior captains will run the offense and feed the ball to big hitters Cassy Salyer, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kate Price and Melissa Walbridge. Salyer and Walbridge will provide the Nittany Lions with a big block that will frustrate opponents.
Rose Buds: Rec Hall will look a lot different this fall. Work crews are replacing the old wooden bleachers with aluminum bleachers that will have a blue plastic surface. The old score boards on the east and west sides of the building have been replaced. The old fashion letter and number cards have been retired. Chair-back seats were not installed because that would have reduced the capacity of Rec Hall. Rose is entering his 27th season as head coach. The all white volleyball is being replaced this season by a black and white model. The home-opener is Friday, Sept. 16 vs. Seton Hall.