Posts tagged ‘women’s volleyball’

Christa Harmotto Keeps on Winning

We knew that volleyball All-American Christa Harmotto was spending most of the spring semester student-teaching in England, but we didn’t know about her latest travels: Last weekend in Cairo, Harmotto starred for the U.S. Women’s National Team in a victory over Egypt. usa_-_christa_harmotto11Harmotto led the Americans with 18 points won and 16 kills.

Harmotto is also the answer to a trivia question posted on the weekly women’s update on USAVolleyball.org: “Which U.S. Women’s National Team player has not been part of a losing match since Sept. 15, 2007?” Fans of the back-to-back NCAA champion Nittany Lions should have had no trouble with that one.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm 1 comment

Professional Grades

A few months ago, they were winning championships as Penn State student athletes. Now, these former Nittany Lions are into (or on the verge of) promising pro careers. A story in this week’s Centre Daily Times tells us that Nicole Fawcett, the women’s volleyball All-American featured in our current cover story, is now playing professionally in Puerto Rico. Apparently, Fawcett played her first match for Tus Gigantes de Carolina two weeks ago, just hours after she landed in San Juan. “It was a little weird coming off the plane and taking an hour nap and then going and playing right away,” Fawcett told the CDT.

Closer to home, Penn State held its annual Pro Day on Wednesday. It’s sort of a smaller, localized version of the NFL combine, where pro scouts and coaches show up with stopwatches and tape measures in hand to get a close-up look at the Nittany Lions’ NFL prospects. Based on today’s coverage in the CDT and Harrisburg Patriot-News, defensive end Aaron Maybin and wide receiver Derrick Williams were sufficiently big, strong, and fast enough to solidify or improve their stock for next month’s draft.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 19, 2009 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Fun with the Women’s Volleyball Team

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Arielle Wilson (left) and Blair Brown

I thought you’d enjoy seeing a few photos from a shoot we did yesterday involving the Penn State women’s volleyball team, who recently won their second straight national title. The photo shoot was great fun—the players loved it and we loved it—and the results will appear in our March-April issue.

The idea goes back to December, when the Penn State women had just won the national championship and we were talking about how we should cover them in the magazine. This is a team that had gone through the season undefeated and some people were calling them the best women’s volleyball team in the history of the sport. We felt we ought to do something, but not an ordinary season wrap-up. For one thing, any story we did would appear a full three months after the national championship game.

Lisa, the makeup artist

Lisa Bell, the makeup artist

Somehow, I don’t remember how, we got the idea to do a photo-driven story. We hired Bill Cramer ’85 as the photographer—he’s done a lot of great work for Philadelphia Magazine, and for us too—and asked him to do almost a Vanity Fair-type glamor shoot, one that also captures some of the team’s playfulness and spirit. Bill came up from Philly yesterday, along with two assistants and a makeup artist (a first for us!); the players showed up in their dressy clothes; and Bill spent about three hours shooting them against a white backdrop on the main gym floor at Rec Hall.

We’re still not sure exactly what the story will be called, how it will look, or what the copy will say. But I know we got some great photos yesterday.

Oh, and one player couldn’t be there for the shoot—Christa Harmotto is student-teaching in England—so we hired a photographer in England to shoot her against a very similar backdrop, and we’ll somehow stitch her in. (We’ll include a note to this effect in the magazine, I’m sure; we have no interest in deceiving anyone.)

Below is a one-minute video clip I shot of Bill choreographing just one of the shots; the players in it are Kelsey Ream (in the blue shirt) and All-Americans Megan Hodge (red shirt) and Nicole Fawcett. Fawcett was the national player of the year.

Tina Hay, editor

January 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm 7 comments

My Kid Needs a New Best Friend

My four-year-old son is fairly obsessed with superheroes, and that obsession fairly dictates how he spends most of his free time — and, being four, pretty much everything outside of sleeping constitutes free time. That obsession also helped determine his closest playmate at the wonderful daycare he has attended for the past two years: another four-year-old who shares his love of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and all the capital-M guys who dominate their thoughts. They are, as much as four-year-olds can be, best friends, to the extent that one usually pouts when the other is picked up first in the afternoons, and that my son occasionally looks sad in the morning at the thought that his buddy MIGHT not be at school that day.

So I was really, really bummed when one of my many Google News Alerts, assigned to tell me anytime “Penn State” appears on the Web, informed me that Salima Rockwell ’94 was leaving her job as an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team to take a similar position at the University of Texas. Salima (then Davidson) was an All-American setter during her playing days, and we were in school at roughly the same time. A few years ago, Salima came back to Happy Valley to join Russ Rose’s staff; she helped guide the team to the past two NCAA championships, including 2008’s remarkable unbeaten run.

Did I mention Salima’s little boy is my son’s best friend?

I can only wish Salima and her family the best of luck—but she really should’ve run this by my son first.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm 5 comments

Friday Sports Update

Maybe you can win for losing…

It had been a year and three days since the Penn State women’s volleyball team lost a set (or a game, depending on your preference). That was before Thursday night, when Coach Russ Rose’s unbeaten, top-ranked squad met No. 4 Nebraska in the national semifinals in Omaha, Neb.

That unbeaten streak is over. Thankfully, the Nittany Lions still won the match, a dramatic yo-yo of a five-setter that started with Penn State winning the first two games (or sets—I really should find out which one’s more official) and stretching its unbeaten game/set streak to an NCAA-record 111 straight. The Cornhuskers, playing in front of the biggest crowd in tournament history—officially 17,400, about 17,000 of whom were raucously supporting the ’Huskers—rallied to win the next two sets/games, sending the crowd into a frenzy and leaving the Lions looking very shaky.

 

37 down, 1 to go

37 down, 1 to go

 

Then Penn State came out for the decisive fifth set, the players suddenly back to their typically poised and confident selves, to close out a 25-17, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11 win. The match ended at 12:20 a.m. ET. I’m glad I stayed up.

On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, the defending champion Nittany Lions (37-0) will face No. 2 Stanford in a rematch of last year’s NCAA final. The title match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. And if you missed last night’s epic, the Penn State-Nebraska match will be replayed on the Big Ten Network today (Friday) at 10 p.m. ET and again on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

If you need to kill some time before Saturday night’s match, why not check out…

-This video feature on new PSU football recruit Kevin Newsome. We knew this kid had nice moves on the field….

-JoePa’s Virtual Birthday Party. I wouldn’t count on an appearance from the coach himself.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 19, 2008 at 12:35 pm 1 comment

Sports in the Future Perfect Tense

For reasons I’ve never understood, the collegiate women’s volleyball season starts around Labor Day and ends a week before Christmas—it’s one of the longest seasons of any fall sport. The way our magazine’s production schedule works, we can never do justice to reporting on how the Penn State women are faring in the NCAA tournament. We usually go to press with the Jan-Feb issue around Dec. 8, just as the playoffs are starting. So we have to write about it in the future-perfect tense: “As we’re writing this, the playoffs have just begun, but by the time you read this, they will have already happened.”

(Until recently I thought that this was the future pluperfect tense, which is funnier to say, but which turns out to be inaccurate, grammatically speaking. I hate when my bubble gets burst like that.)

But here in more or less real time, we have a chance to follow along—even to watch in person—as the Nittany Lion women try to defend their national championship. Over the weekend they won their first- and second-round matches in the NCAA tournament, and next weekend they’ll be back in Rec Hall to host the regionals. Penn State meets Western Michigan on Friday night (Dec. 12) at 6 p.m., and if the Lions win, they play Saturday night against either Illinois or California, with the winner of that match going on to the Final Four.

Right now Penn State is 34-0, and not only have the Nittany Lions not lost a match all year, they haven’t lost a single game in any of those matches either. So if you want to see an amazing volleyball team play, check them out in Rec Hall this coming weekend.

You can see the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament bracket here.

Tina Hay, editor

December 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm Leave a comment

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