Iowa travels to Penn State and Ohio State this weekend

Sept. 27, 2004

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This Week: The Hawkeyes (9-4, 1-1) continue Big Ten action on the road against the only two undefeated teams in the conference. Iowa will face Penn State (10-0, 2-0) Friday night and Ohio State (12-0, 2-0) Saturday. Penn State is currently ranked 4th in the USA Today/CSTV poll and Ohio State is ranked 16th. Both matches will begin at 5 p.m. (CDT).

Last Week: Iowa started the conference season by splitting matches with Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines beat Iowa (3-0), but the Hawkeyes bounced back to defeat Michigan State (3-1). The win over the Spartans was the first for Iowa since 2000, and the first in Iowa City since 1994.

The Nittany Lions: After capturing the Big Ten title in 2003 and finishing with a 31-5 overall record, Penn State Coach Russ Rose looks to five returning starters to anchor this year’s team. Second-team AVCA all-American selection Sam Tortorello is back at setter averaging 13.22 assists and 1.25 kills per game. She also leads the Nittany Lions with 15 service aces. Tortorello was the Big Ten Player of the Week (9-20) after three non-conference wins in which Penn State hit at a .419 average as a team and four or more teammates ended up with double-digit attacks. Senior outside hitter Ashley Pederson has a team leading 4.14 kills per game and freshman Kate Price is close behind with 3.66. Kim Holm leads Penn State with 1.14 blocks from the middle blocker position and Kaleena Walters averages 5.22 digs as libero.

Iowa-Penn State Series: This will be the 26th meeting between the Hawkeyes and the Nittany Lions. Iowa has never defeated Penn State.

The Buckeyes: Jim Stone’s Buckeyes return three starters along with three other letterwinners from last year’s 11-17 squad. Outside hitter Stacey Gordon looks to pick up where she left off last year to lead Ohio State. Gordon led the conference in kills per game (6.77) and was an all-Big Ten selection, a second-team AVCA selection and a first-team Asics/Volleyball Magazine all-American. She was also the first Big Ten Player of the Week this season after she put 26 kills (.561) and 33 kills (.421) in one pre-season tournament. Junior transfer Maya Mapp has averaged 2.34 kills and .82 blocks per game. Ohio State boasted the fourth best recruiting class in the nation and freshmen Danielle Meyer and Ami Stevens have started every match this season. Meyer leads the Buckeyes with 1.10 blocks and is second with 3.22 kills per game. Maris Main has taken over at setter and averages 14.75 assists per game to go along with 1.15 kills.

Iowa-Ohio State Series: The Buckeyes lead the series 39-9. Iowa’s last win came in 2000. Ohio State won the last meeting in 2003 (3-0).

In Fredrick’s words: “Penn State and Ohio State are both very good. This is going to be a tough road trip for us competing against two outstanding teams. Penn State is always good, and Ohio State is much better after last year. Both teams have strong hitters and good defense.

Heading into the weekend we don’t want to be overconfident – we know that we are still a work in process. Everything that we work on is to just keep getting better. The win over Michigan State was a direct result of that process.

We are still realistic about things. It is important that the players don’t have a lot of pressure on them. We just need to go out and play hard and continue to improve.”