We have gotten to enjoy the work of Penn State student-athletes on their various fields and floors on campus, but they also have left their marks away from State College.
When they suit up in red, white and blue, it is an especially proud moment for Nittany Lion coaches, team members and fans.
A number of former Nittany Lion volleyball players are getting time with their national teams as preparations continue for the 2016 Olympics, and other athletes are getting some exposure beyond State College.
Former Nittany Lion All-Americans Matt Anderson and Max Holt have helped the U.S. team reach the final round of the FIVB World League tournament.
The Americans finished with a 9-3 record to win their pool, edging Russia and Serbia. The U.S. had to beat Serbia on Sunday in its final match to lock up the spot, prevailing in four sets. Anderson led the team in points with 19 kills and two aces, while Holt was third in points with 11 kills and two blocks. Anderson has been starting at opposite, while Holt started as a middle hitter.
The six-team final round will be held in Florence, Italy, from July 16-20.
Anderson, who has been the leading scorer for the US. the last three seasons, led the team in most of its matches during the pool play and was the Intercontinental Round top scorer with 259 points.
The U.S. also saw one of its possible future stars when rising Penn State senior Aaron Russell suited up for matches in the NORCECA World Championship Qualifier. Team USA won all four matches for its spot at the Worlds Aug. 30 to Sept. 21 in Poland.
Russell played in three of four matches and was named the Best Spiker for the tournament. He had nine kills and two aces against Guatemala, seven kills against Haiti and seven kills and two aces in a rematch against Guatemala in the finals.
Russell will continue to train with the U.S. team through the summer before returning to campus for fall classes and will not be on the World League or World Championship roster.
Former Nittany Lions Will Price and Joe Sunder also have seen time in the U.S. training gym, and Edgardo Goas and Dennis Del Valle were with the Puerto Rican national team that finished 2-4 in its pool in the FIVB World League.
The U.S. women’s national team is in the middle of a four-match series with Brazil in the USA Volleyball Cup, a contest between the world’s top two teams.
The U.S. won the first two matches, with two more set for Honolulu on Friday and Saturday.
The starting setter for the first two matches was former Penn State All-American Alisha Glass, and her former Nittany Lion teammate Nicole Fawcett will join the team for the matches in Hawaii. Glass guided the team to a 45 percent kill rate, adding two kills and an ace in a sweep last Sunday and led the team to a 36 percent kill rate in a four-set victory last Saturday.
Earlier this year, ex-Lion Christa Harmotto helped the U.S. to a silver medal at the Montreaux Volley Masters in Switzerland, falling in four sets to Germany in the finals for their only tournament loss.
In May, recent graduates Katie Slay and Maddie Martin helped Team USA win all four matches at the NORCECA World Championship Qualifier.
PSU stars on ballot
Penn State has two student-athletes in the running for ESPN’s annual ESPY Awards.
Wrestler David Taylor and volleyball’s Micha Hancock are each among five finalists in their respective categories, with the winners determined by online voting (http://espn.go.com/espys/2014/). Voting runs until 9 p.m. July 16. The show takes place that night.
Taylor is nominated for Best Male College Athlete along with Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College, hockey), Doug McDermott (Creighton, basketball), Lyle Thompson (Albany, lacrosse) and Jameis Winston (Florida State, football).
Hancock is nominated for Best Female College Athlete along with Morgan Brian (Virginia, soccer), Taylor Cummings (Maryland, lacrosse), Hannah Rogers (Florida, softball) and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut, basketball).
Heading to NHL camps
A handful of Penn State hockey players are getting workouts with NHL teams at development camps this month.
According to Twitter posts from the team, forward Eric Scheid will be with the Minnesota Wild starting Wednesday, goalie Matthew Skoff has been working with the San Jose Sharks since Monday, defenseman Patrick Koudys also has been working since Monday with the Washington Capitals, goalie Eamon McAdam has been with the New York Islanders since Tuesday, and forward Casey Bailey finishes his time with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
All five of them will bring what they learned back to campus this fall for another season with the Nittany Lions.
Also, forward Tommy Olczyk has an internship this summer with the Chicago Blackhawks’ front office.
Follow Gordon Brunskill on Twitter @GordonCDT.