Penn State Men’s Volleyball Obliterates Lees-McRae
12th ranked Penn State men’s volleyball made quick work of Lees-McRae College on Friday night, winning 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-20) in Rec Hall on the Nittany Lions’ senior night.
Penn State came into the game hot, riding a three game winning streak with road wins against Saint Francis, Princeton and George Mason. On a night where seniors Nick Turko, Ian Hendries, Matt Kapusta, Tom Comfort, Kyle Mars, and redshirt junior Scott Kegerreis were honored for their time with the program, the Nittany Lions kept their hot streak going.
Penn State pounced in the first set, opening up an early 7-2 lead on the Leeds-McRae, who fell to 17-12 on the season and are losers of four of their last five contests. The Nittany Lions dominated the entire set, rarely letting the Bobcats get within six points, before eventually ending on a 6-1 run en route to winning the first set 1-0. Sophomore Aaron Russell, who came into this game with two straight 17+ kill performances, racked up half of his team-leading ten kills in the set.
The second set was more of the same for the Nittany Lions. While Leeds-McRae kept it close early on, the two teams were tied at 10-10 at one point, Penn State was able to pull away. The Nittany Lions, behind more stellar play from Russell with Kegerreis and redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell catching fire, ended the set on a 15-6 run to take set two, 25-16.
The third set was the Kyle Mars show. Mars, despite playing in only the third set, racked up seven kills, which was tied for the third most on the team behind only Russell and Goodell. While Lees-McRae tried, they were unable to match Penn State’s superior size and talent, and the Nittany Lions won the third set, 25-20. It was the tenth time this season Penn State swept an opponent, and the first time since their March 23rd sweep of Saint Francis.
After the match, Lees-McRae’s co-men’s and women’s head coach Dave Schmidlin, who will be coaching his team in the Conference of Carolina’s Tournament beginning on Saturday, sang the praises of his opponent.
“They’re a bigger, physical team than anybody that we play in our conference,” said Schmidlin, who was hired as Lees-McRae’s coach on Tuesday and carries the coaching duties with interim head coach Cassie Crumal, “we’re used to playing those teams and it’s hard to adjust to the size.”
The praise was reciprocated by Penn State’s head coach Mark Pavlik, who gave “hats off” to Lees-McRae after they took an 11-hour bus ride from their home in Banner Elk, North Carolina to Happy Valley before they turn around and play in their conference tournament tomorrow.
“We took advantage of a team that was a little travel weary,” Pavlik told reporters after the game, It’s been tough to win on the road, and I thought we took care of our home court pretty well, the way we should have, no matter who was on the court.”
Penn State travels to Irvine, Calif. next week to take on Concordia University and 4th ranked UC Irvine, the first ranked team the Nittany Lions have played since March 16, when PSU fell to 9th ranked Ohio State.