Dynasty: "A powerful group that maintains its position for a considerable period of time" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
In history, a dynasty is characterized by generations of rulers from a single family or group; in sport, a dynasty may be the ultimate description of a successful team, one that is able to not only get to the top, but to stay there.
The Penn State women's volleyball team has earned the title of dynasty after unprecedented domination of the sport. After years of being a mainstay in the NCAA Final Four, the Nittany Lions captured back to back NCAA championships, and are currently in the midst of their second straight undefeated season, ranked No. 1 in the nation. The squad's last loss was Sept. 15, 2007; last weekend they captured their 13th Big Ten Championship. They are well on their way to a history-making three-peat in the national tournament, and Coach Russ Rose has already been inducted in his sport's Hall of Fame.
If that success isn't impressive enough, the Nittany Lions have also excelled in the classroom. This week, senior outside hitter Megan Hodge was named the Academic All-American of the Year by ESPN the Magazine, marking the second straight season a Penn State athlete has captured the honor; Hodge will likely become a four-time AVCA All-American for her athletic excellence as well.
Credit Rose, one of the greatest coaches in the sport with recruiting these talented athletes, and with setting a standard of excellence for their performance in and out of the athletic arena. Credit the athletes, who have set aside personal egos and agendas to work together for a common goal, and then methodically achieved it. Credit the university with providing the facilities and resources to make their athletes competitive and dominant on a national stage.
This weekend, the volleyball program will honor their most successful senior ever as they play their final regular-season contest at Rec Hall. If you have not seen this special group of student-athletes compete, you may want to make the trip to Happy Valley to view this significant moment in Penn State history. This Penn State senior class has amassed an incredible 134-5 record, with 94 straight victories.
The only team that's won two games against them all season is Michigan State, who comes to University Park Friday night. Penn State deserves a packed house and a hostile environment for the Spartans.
Most championship teams relish a single moment in time when everything comes together to make magic.
The Penn State volleyball team has strung together three years of amazing moments and unforgettable memories. The next few days and weeks could add another chapter to their seemingly-untouchable legacy of success with honor.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.