VCU GAMEDAY PAGE
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The numbers are staggering. Three straight national championships. An NCAA record 105-match win streak. A rally-era record .390 hitting percentage in 2009. All of those absurd figures converge to form Penn State's unbelievable three-year resume.
On Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. the Virginia Commonwealth University Volleyball team will step onto the tracks and try to stop a moving train at PSU's Rec Hall. It's one of three matches the Black and Gold will play this weekend at the Hampton Inn Classic, – the Rams will also see Colgate and Seton Hall - but it is, by far, the contest everyone has on their mind.
Given all Penn State's superlatives, it would be fair to call this the biggest challenge in the history of the VCU program. It's believed to be the first time the Rams have faced a No. 1-ranked team.
Despite the long odds, VCU Head Coach James Finley isn't going to sell his team short. That doesn't mean he's going to predict earth-rattling upsets, but he knows there's more to be gained from playing Penn State than just a win.
"When we started preseason and the girls were setting their goals and we had one girl say that 'one of my goals is to take a game off Penn State', and another girl was like, 'what weren't not going to take a game off Penn State, we're going to beat Penn State,'" Finley said. "You love the attitude and everything else. It's always fun to play the best then you really know how far you've really got to go and how far you are."
VCU rolls into University Park with an 0-4 mark after meeting 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Ohio, Ohio State and Dayton, as well as Arizona State last weekend. With those four matches under their belt, the Rams are already a much different team than they were a week ago.
"We learned so much from last weekend. It was really awesome. We watched film and the girls got to really see the things that they didn't understand," Finley said. "We're hoping to see those things against Colgate and against Seton Hall so that they become a little more a part of what we naturally do before we get to Penn State. I think that's the most important thing for me."
No matter how the outside world views VCU's chances on Saturday, the Rams are just here to play volleyball, and maybe, turn a few heads.
"For them it's more about them just taking care of our side of the court and you know, you don't have anything to lose, so there's no reason to be intimidated," Finley said. "This is an opportunity to go out, play all out and see how everything falls. It's not a pressure match for us. It's an opportunity to evaluate our selves and see if we can play as hard as we can play."