Price leads Eastern to reunion at Penn State


Dominic Baima

Red-shirt junior outside hitter Kelsey Brooke serves the ball against Jacksonville State on Nov. 11 at Lantz Arena.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

Eastern volleyball returns to action this Friday at the Penn State Alumni Classic. During this final preseason tournament it will take on East Carolina and Penn State on Friday and DePaul and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday. The Panthers record currently stands at 5-4.

Heading into Friday’s matchup with Penn State, Eastern head coach Kate Price, has found some similarities between her team and the Penn State Nittany Lions. In fact, Price has some experience with that program, having won a national championship there in 2008 as a player.

She won’t be the only coach at this weekend’s tournament, who played under an outstanding program at Penn State.

DePaul’s Nadia Edwards and Katie Schumacher-Cawley of UIC both won national championships as members of the 1998-99 team, while East Carolina’s Julie Torbett was the recipient of four Atlantic 10 championships for the Nittany Lions. Eastern assistant coach Ryan Sweitzer also won a men’s national championship at Penn State in 2008.

During their time at Penn State, those four head coaches played under Rick Rose, who won six national championships and more than 1,000 career games in his 36 years at State College, Pa.

“The best way to describe [Rose] was as very demanding of all of us as players,” Price said. “He also wanted us to have the best experience possible in our collegiate career and I think that’s something that is and always has been a goal of mine.”

Eastern players have expressed their excitement about the Penn State match, including freshman Maria Brown. She is also familiar with the Penn State team, having played with them during club season.

“It’s both scary and exciting. During club season a lot of the Penn State players played on the same team as I did,” Brown said. “It’s completely new territory, but I’ve seen them before and played with them, so that’s a step up.”

After studying this week’s game film, Price has noticed that the four visiting teams’ strategies have differentiated from the traditional Penn State model. She thinks this is due to the coaches’ viewing different aspects of the game, and they’re different upbringings of volleyball.

“We were all different players. Julie was a middle backer and defensive specialist, Katie and I were outside hitters and Nadia in the middle,” Price said.

“You could probably sit us in a room, and we could all say similar things about how we go about the game, but I think we all have different recruits and players now, which mean different things, strategy-wise.”

Following a tough outing at South Dakota State last weekend, the Panthers are eager to get back into game mode, according to libero Stephanie Wallace.

“I think as long as we go into it with the right mind-set, it doesn’t necessarily matter too much who’s on the other side, as long as we can control what we can control on our side, and we play to the best we can,” Wallace said.

“Hopefully we can finish the preseason on a good note, and head into conference on a good note next week.”

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].