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Penn State Women’s Volleyball 2023 Season Preview

Katie Schumacher-Cawley enters Year two as Nittany Lions’ head coach

Penn State v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Penn State women’s volleyball team opens its 2023 season tonight at the Road 2 Tampa Invitational against Florida. Coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley’s squad is looking to build off last season’s 26-8 record and 5th place finish in conference play. The Nittany Lions advanced to the regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament for the 20th time in the last 21 seasons but fell to Big Ten champion Wisconsin in 5 sets. Penn State is ranked #8 in the AVCA preseason poll.

The Roster

Middle Blocker

Allie Holland (SR), Taylor Trammell (SR), Catherine Burke (FR)

Penn State’s long-standing excellence at middle blocker is expected to continue in 2023. The Lions return their two best players after finishing last season 11th in the NCAA in blocks per set. Allie Holland (1.34 blocks/set, .322 hit %) and Taylor Trammell (1.13 blocks/set, .292 hit %) form one of the most dominant pairs of middle blockers in the country. Holland earned 1st Team All-Big Ten honors in 2022.

Schumacher-Cauley added Top 100 recruit Catherine Burke (#86) to the roster. While she is unlikely to move up the depth chart this season, expect her to develop and earn rotational playing time.

Outside Hitter

Zoe Weatherington (SR+), Jess Mruzik (SR), Camryn Hannah (SR), Alexa Markley (SO), Anjelina Starck (JR), Macy Van Den Elzen (SR), Karis Willow (FR)

Normally a strength for the team, hitting percentage was an area of inconsistency for Penn State last season, finishing .223 (8th in the Big Ten and 115th in the NCAA). Fortunately, the Lions got some help from the transfer portal, picking up Jess Mruzik from Michigan and Camryn Hannah from Clemson. Mruzik averaged 3.68 kills per set with a .240 hitting percentage in 2022 for the Wolverines. Hannah recorded 3.43 kills per set on a .253 hitting percentage last season for the Tigers.

Zoe Weatherington returns, looking to improve on her 2.42 kills per set and .218 hitting percentage. Alexa Markley and Anjelina Starck provide quality depth after posting 1.90 and 1.13 kills per set respectively. Macy Van Den Elzen will be looking to move up the depth chart after making her PSU debut in 2022. Top 100 recruit Karis Willow (#58) joins the program this season and should provide tough competition for the top 5.


Mac Podraza (SR+), Ally Van Eekeren (SR+), Kate Lally (FR)

After losing its top 2 setters from the 2022 campaign, Penn State brought in transfers Mac Podraza from Ohio State and Ally Van Eekeren from High Point. Podraza won Big Ten Setter of the Year last season, finishing 14th in the NCAA in assists per set (11.1). Her experience playing in the Big Ten should be a major asset for the Nittany Lions. Van Eekeren won Big South Setter of the Year in 2022, recording 8.41 assists per set, after playing her freshman and sophomore seasons at Creighton.

Freshman Kate Lally joins Penn State after helping State College Area High School win 4 District 6 titles.

With last year’s Big Ten Setter of the Year on the roster, expect PSU to be a strong setting team in 2023.

Defensive Specialists/Libero

Maddy Bilinovic (SR), Cassie Kuerschen (JR), Gillian Grimes (SO), Lina Perugini (SR+), Quinn Menger (JR), Joce Nathan (FR)

Defense was an area of improvement for Penn State in 2022. The Lions held opponents to a .183 hitting percentage (62nd in NCAA)- a solid gain from 2021, when opponents hit .205 against PSU (157th in NCAA).

Penn State returns its 4 best defensive specialists from 2022 in Maddy Bilinovic (3.39 digs/set), Cassie Kuerschen (1.99 digs/set), Gillian Grimes (1.84 digs/set), and Quinn Menger (0.38 digs/set). They will be joined by transfer Lina Perugini (4.15 digs/set in 2022), who had spent the previous 4 seasons at Coastal Carolina. Perugini was named to the 2nd All-Sun Belt Team in 2022.

Joce Nathan joins Penn State after a stellar high school career in Wilmington, Delaware. She was named a Third Team All-American by AVCA in her senior season.

Overall, this is a veteran-heavy roster with a ton of talent. They did a great job filling the gaps in the offseason, particularly at outside hitter and setter. Expect this team to compete for the Big Ten championship.

The Schedule

Penn State has a penchant for scheduling tough non-conference games, and this season is no exception. This year’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by matches against 2022 NCAA runner-up and AVCA #4 Louisville, plus #11 Florida and #20 Georgia Tech. Of Penn State’s 9 non-conference games, 7 qualified for last year’s NCAA tournament, and all 7 of those teams were ranked inside the RPI top 100.

In conference play, the Nittany Lions will play Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, and Northwestern twice, and every other Big Ten team once. Penn State will take on defending Big Ten champion #2 Wisconsin on November 11 at Rec Hall, shortly after the football team beats Michigan at Beaver Stadium.


Ten of Penn State’s regular season games will be televised. I highly recommend buying a BTN+ subscription if you don’t already have one- for $80 a year, you get PSU volleyball, hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, soccer, and more. Penn State’s 2023 TV schedule is below:

Sunday, September 10- at #4 Louisville (1pm on ESPN2)

Friday, September 29- at Illinois (9pm on BTN)

Saturday, September 30- at #7 Minnesota (9pm on BTN)

Saturday, October 7- vs. #14 Ohio State (6:30pm on BTN)

Friday, October 13- at Iowa (8pm on BTN)

Saturday, October 14- at #5 Nebraska (8pm on BTN)

Sunday, October 22- vs. #16 Purdue (1pm on FS1)

Friday, October 27- at Michigan (TBA on BTN)

Friday, November 3- vs. #5 Nebraska (8:30pm on BTN)

Saturday, November 11- vs. #2 Wisconsin (8pm on BTN)

Season Prediction

I would not be surprised to see Penn State drop 7-10 games during the regular season just because of how tough this schedule is. However, if they can improve their hitting percentage and team defense, I can easily see a 23-25 win regular season, top 3 Big Ten finish, and top 8 NCAA tournament seed. I’ll split the difference.

22-7, 4th in Big Ten, #10 overall seed in NCAA tournament, qualify for regional final