Hoping to start Big Ten off right

Mark Selders/PSU Athletic Communications

For Maddie Martin, the highlight of the nonconference schedule was a trip to Florida, where she was able to visit her family – and the team came back with three wins.

Hello everyone! I’m Maddie Martin and I am a senior outside hitter for the Penn State women’s volleyball team. I am a Tampa, Fla., native, which may leave some of you wondering, “Why in the world did you go to school in Pennsylvania?”

I thought that, too, my first winter in Happy Valley, but it’s the tradition of the Penn State program and the excellence of the school that made me realize this was where I belonged. As I approached my last preseason, there was a bittersweet feeling. Can’t say I’m going miss three-a-days in our non air-conditioned gym but knowing it was my last time around with this group of girls made it much more sentimental.

Overall, I would say we had a pretty successful preseason, minus our five-game loss to Texas. Texas was a match where we made too many errors, which ultimately cost us the win. But we were able to come back the next morning and sweep a very good University of Florida team. This was a key win for us because of the way we played the day before. It was nice to come back refreshed the next day and improve.

One of my favorite matches this preseason was when we scrimmaged the Polish professional team. It was really cool to see their style of play and the way they communicated on the court. It was also interesting to see how precise and focused their pregame warm-ups were. This was something coach really enjoyed as well.

Although I enjoy the Nike Big 4 tournament and the level of competition that tournaments brings along, my favorite preseason trip was definitely when we went to Florida. It was amazing to be close to home and to feel the Florida sun. A huge part that factored into that trip was being able to see my whole family. I was grateful for the three and half days we spent down there. It also helps that we came back with three wins.

As we get ready to head into our first two matches of the Big Ten, we’ve had to maintain a high level of focus and hard work during practices. On any given day there can be an upset because the conference is so strong all around.

As we take on Michigan State and Michigan this weekend, we need to focus on eliminating our errors. With each of these top 15 teams, there is no room for senseless errors.

My hope is that we come out of this weekend feeling confident about our play and start the Big Ten season off on the right note. Good luck to all the teams competing.

We are!