Monday, December 22, 2014
Don't expect Penn State dynasty to end any time soon
By Mike Wolf
December 21, 2014
Penn State's Micha Hancock, right, hugs coach Russ Rose, left, after Penn State defeated BYU during the NCAA women's volleyball tournament championship match in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP
For the sixth time in the past eight seasons, the Penn State Nittany Lions are national champions.
Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Penn State capped off another historic season by winning a record seventh NCAA title. No program in the country has had as much success in women’s volleyball as Penn State. The straight set win over BYU proved once again that the Nittany Lions had the best collection of players in the nation, as well as the greatest coach in the game.
Nothing is ever a forgone conclusion, but after the national semifinal victory over No. 1-seeded Stanford on Thursday, winning title number seven was close to it. Thanks to a balanced effort against the Cougars, led by NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Megan Courtney, the Nittany Lions swept BYU to cap off another miraculous run for a Russ Rose-coached team.
The all-time winningest coach in Division I has always placed the credit on the shoulders of his players, and rightfully so. But the 36-year veteran has created a trend that is staggering even to those who have never watched a volleyball match. More than half of the last decade has ended with a Nittany Lion championship. Winning national titles is no longer just expected at Penn State, it is the norm.
There is no secret to the continued success of Rose and Penn State; it is a simple formula that has paid dividends for years for the legendary coach: out-work every opponent on the schedule. Whether it is in practice, in a match, or while scouting, Penn State’s effort as a program is consistent, and to have success in Happy Valley, the players have to meet that standard.
Rose has an expectation for that level of effort at every moment for a player wearing the Blue and White, and if it does not meet his standard, Rose’s brutal honesty let’s them know. It can be difficult for some, but for those who can take it, it aids in molding them into players who can handle any pressure situation, even when a national championship is on the line.
“He’s always been hard on me and he knows that I want to push myself,” said Nittany Lion setter Micha Hancock last season. “When he sees that in a player, he really wants to push them farther than they think they can go, and that’s one of the best things about him.”
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