Men’s Volleyball Kicks Off Season in Hawaii
The landscape of women’s college volleyball may be quite different from that of men’s college volleyball, but the Penn State volleyball teams share one thing in common–success. The men got their season started last weekend at the Outrigger Invitational in Hawaii, where they recorded two wins and one loss.
Last season, Penn State made it to the National Championship for the third time in five years, but lost to Stanford in the title match. The Nittany Lions finished with a 24-8 record and won their 22nd Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Championship. Penn State returns five starters from last year, including Joe Sunder, who led the Nittany Lions in kills last weekend.
Sunder had 24 kills in Penn State’s first game against UCLA on Thursday, but it was not enough as they fell 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 22-25, 18-25). Eduardo Goas, another returning starter, had 43 assists, and fellow returnee Dennis Del Valle led the team in digs with nine. Goas, Sunder and Del Valle all played in every Penn State match last year, and they will be critical to the team’s success this year as well.
On Friday, Penn State won a tight match over hosts Hawaii, 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 24-26, 16-14). Sunder led the way again with 33 kills. Tom Comfort played in only 19 matches last year, but with 11 kills against Hawaii, it looks like he will be called on this year as one of Penn State’s main attacking options.
Penn State finished the Outrigger Invitational against Ball State on Saturday, and won 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20). Sunder finished with 13 kills, while Comfort had ten. The Nittany Lions are quite familiar with Ball State and will play them twice more this season.
Penn State is a volleyball powerhouse, and is expected to win the EIVA once again this season. With a national tournament consisting of only four teams, it is vital for the Nittany Lions to win the conference championship. Penn State starts their EIVA schedule next week, and two victories will have the Nittany Lions well on their way to another successful season.
Friday: vs. Saint Francis (Pa.), 7 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Springfield, 4 p.m.