It’s reasonable to expect Russ Rose to lower his expectations for his Penn State women’s volleyball team in 2018. The team returns just eight players, with the other half of their roster consisting of eight freshmen.
Even with that turnover, Rose, who is returning for his 40th season at the helm of the program, said that the expectations for the Nittany Lions won’t change, even if the roster has drastically.
“A lot of times the expectations are high,” he said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t continue to have high expectations.”
If those expectations are to be reached, Rose will be relying on some of the roster’s youth, which he said adds to the excitement of beginning a new season. “There’s a lot of unknowns when you’re playing with so many people,” he said. “I think that’s one of the exciting things about coaching, seeing how those things come together.”
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So, what are Rose’s expectations for the season? To improve every day.
“The expectations are for the players to get better and to compete at a high level,” Rose said. “These players that are here now have to understand the concept of getting better. I tell the players all the time there are going to be matches where you play really well and you lose, and there will be matches where you don’t play great and you win. You have to be able to separate the performance from the outcome.”
The team opens its season with the Penn State Classic Friday night at 7:30 in Rec Hall against Eastern Kentucky. They’ll also play Navy and UMBC in the Classic this weekend.
Shutouts and eye-openers for women’s soccer
While Rose and the women’s volleyball team prepare for the upcoming season, Erica Dambach and the women’s soccer team have already begun theirs by putting the nation on notice.
The Lady Lions started the season with a bang by taking down ninth-ranked West Virginia with a 1-0 victory and defeating Duquesne 6-0 on their opening weekend.
Dambach, who is entering her 12th season as the program’s head coach, said that it’s important that the team doesn’t rest on its laurels and keeps pushing their positive momentum forward. “We’ve got to put our foot on the gas,” Dambach said. “It is time to go. This team has high goals and we’ve got to get better every day.”
Dambach added that the different challenges presented by West Virginia and Duquesne should help prepare the Nittany Lions for the rest of the season.
“West Virginia gave us everything we could handle on Friday night and we had to dig in,” Dambach said. “Duquesne put a lot of numbers behind the ball and we had to be patient. [They] gave us a different challenge and made us work against a packed defense.”
The Nittany Lions will take on another top-10 opponent this weekend when they meet UCLA at Jeffrey Field Saturday at 4 p.m.