Women's V-ball Set to Start Season

Penn State's 2005-06 athletic year begins Friday night, as Russ Rose's women's volleyball team looks to serve up an upset at a powerhouse tournament in Nebraska. Pat Boland, who calls Nittany Lion volleyball games for WMAJ 1450 in State College, offers the lowdown on the action.

Life on the Road: The Nittany Lions will spend the next week on the road. The season begins Friday at 7 p.m. when No. 5 PSU takes on defending national champion and third-ranked Stanford in the AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball Showcase in Omaha. Saturday, the Nittany Lions will play either No. 1 Nebraska or No. 4 Hawaii. All of the action will be carried on College Sports Television (check local listings for times).

The team will then fly to Honolulu for the Hawaiian Airlines Classic Aug. 31-Sept. 2. It will play No. 7 USC, Western Michigan and No. 4 Hawaii.

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.

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