Cats confident they can tame perfect Nittany Lions

James Carlton

Penn State has played 84 sets this season. The Nittany Lions have earned that set point 84 times.

It is impressive enough that No. 1 Penn State (28-0, 16-0 Big Ten) has not lost a match this year, but the team has not even dropped a single set. The defending national champions will face Northwestern Friday at University Park, Pa.

But ask one of the Wildcats (8-19, 2-14) if they are intimidated by the Big Ten Goliath, and they react as though preparing to play Saturday’s less-than dominant opponent, Indiana (14-14, 6-10).

“This week we have been preparing for Penn State as we do all of the teams in the Big Ten,” said sophomore middle blocker Sabel Moffett. “It’s going to be a challenging match, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Penn State made NU its 22nd victim with a 3-0 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Oct. 25.

Senior middle blocker Chelsy Hyser said the Cats are the underdog, but a loss is far from a foregone conclusion. She said a total team effort and high energy throughout the match could lift the NU to an upset.

“We know it’s going to be tough and we’re not guaranteed anything once we step out onto the court,” Hyser said. “But they are definitely beatable. Each player will need to bring their A-game, or rather their A-plus-game, for us to take down the No. 1 team in the country.”

The players said the Cats’ success will hinge on their ability to focus only on their play and try to control the pace and flow of the match. Hyser said it will be vital for the team to come out aggressive but not become demoralized if things do not go their way.

“If we can take the lead early and take each point as it comes along, we can control the outcome of the game,” Hyser said.

Moffett, too, said the team needed to worry only about itself since “we have been our own worst enemies at times this season.” She said she relished the opportunity to be the first to take down the Nittany Lions, and points to their program as a model of achievement for NU to copy.

“Their success is definitely something I think our program should drive to emulate,” she said. “I mean, who would not want to be national champs and undefeated?”

[email protected]