Men’s Volleyball Wins EIVA Championship
The Penn State men’s volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament by winning the EIVA Championship over Springfield on Saturday night. The win was the Nittany Lions’ 13th-straight EIVA Championship victory, which increased their overall total to 23.
Penn State shot out of the gate, opening up a 7-1 lead. Two great digs by Dennis Del Valle led to kills by Joe Sunder, and Ryan Wolf served two aces during the run. The Nittany Lions would lead by as many as nine at 17-8, but Springfield closed the deficit to four points at 20-16. However, a Tom Comfort kill and an ace from Alan Mars gave Penn State some breathing room, and the Nittany Lions took set one 25-20.
Penn State’s tremendous play continued in the second set. Wolf had four of his 11 kills in set two, which Penn State won 25-14. The 11 kills were good enough for second on the team behind Sunder’s 14. Springfield just did not have any answers for the Penn State attack. Del Valle and the rest of the Nittany Lions were also consistently digging Springfield attacks, which seemed to rattle the Pride. Del Valle finished the match with 14 digs.
Springfield took its first lead of the game in the third set at 2-1. The Pride led by as much as five points in the set, but the Nittany Lions came back. Down 18-20, Nick Turko used his opportunity to serve to great effect. His tough serves led to some easy kills for Penn State, which won the next four points to take the lead. Springfield did have a chance to take set three at 24-23, but Penn State won the final three points of the set to take the match.
With the victory, Penn State advances to the NCAA Semifinals, which it will host next Thursday. Penn State will most likely earn the fourth seed, while rivals Ohio State will probably get the third seed. The top two seeds should go to two western-conference teams. Penn State will learn its official tournament draw on Sunday at 2 p.m.