Penn State Men’s Volleyball Dominates Ohio State
The collegiate men’s volleyball landscape is quite different than most other college sports. There are only a few schools that compete, and there are only three major conferences that earn tournament berths. Only four schools play in the NCAA Tournament, and other than the three automatic berths, the fourth spot almost always goes to a western university. Because of this, the regular season does not have the same meaning for the Penn State men’s volleyball team that it does for other sports.
Last Sunday, the Nittany Lions took on Ohio State, and the feeling in Rec Hall was different—this match mattered. You could see it in the players’ expressions on the court. You could see it when they celebrated after every block. You could see it in how the Nittany Lions regrouped after losing the second set to dominate sets three and four. And you could see it in the celebrations after Penn State won the match 3-1 (25-21, 18-25, 25-19, 25-9).
The Nittany Lions had plenty of reasons to be excited for the match against the Buckeyes. Maybe the Nittany Lions were excited because Ohio State is the only Big Ten school other than Penn State that has a varsity men’s volleyball team. Maybe it was due to the fact that the Buckeyes swept Penn State earlier this season on their home floor. Or, maybe it was just due to Ohio State being one spot higher in the rankings. Whatever the reason may be, Penn State played their best match of the season on senior night. Tom Comfort led the team with 14 kills and two service aces, while Joe Sunder had 11 kills and three aces of his own.
Libero Dennis Del Valle and middle hitter Alan Mars played their final regular season home games of their careers on Sunday. Del Valle is the only Nittany Lion to have played in every set this season. Regularly the shortest person on the court at 5-foot-8, Del Valle makes up for his size with quickness and great digging abilities. Mars has rotated in and out of the line-up this year. Mars adds leadership and size (6-foot-7) to the Nittany Lion front line. Both players are big contributors and will be missed next season.
Penn State has two matches left in the regular season before hosting the EIVA Championship. Penn State will be hosting the NCAA National Championship as well. If the Nittany Lions play like they did against Ohio State, they should feel confident heading into the final stages of the season.
Friday: at Ball State, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: at IPFW, 7 p.m.