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No. 8 Men’s Volleyball Escapes NJIT In Five Sets

Facing a 2-1 deficit, Penn State men’s volleyball claimed the final two sets to escape NJIT in five sets (27-29, 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13) in Rec Hall Saturday afternoon, keeping its eight game winning streak intact and remaining undefeated in conference play.

How It Happened

We’ll pick up the action in the fourth set, with Penn State trailing 2-1 after three hotly contested games. Tied at 3-3, the Nittany Lions scored four straight points to build a four-point lead, 7-3. The Highlanders answered with a kill, but Penn State regrouped with an 11-5 scoring streak to stretch the lead to 11, 18-9. NJIT roared back with a 4-1 run to cut the lead to six, 19-13, but the Lions once again found an answer, putting together a 4-1 strike to arrive at set point, 24-14. The Highlanders held off two attempts before Chris Nugent put down a kill to close out a 25-16 win in the fourth set, sending the match into a deciding fifth frame.

Re-energized by their match-saving win, the Nittany Lions raced out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth set, forcing NJIT to call an early timeout. Out of the break, the Highlanders responded with a 5-3 stretch to arrive within one, 6-5. Jalen Penrose and Nugent answered back with two consecutive kills to build a three-point advantage, 8-5, but NJIT was able to once again climb back within one, 9-8. With a winner-takes-all mentality, the Lions would trade point-for-point down the stretch to arrive at match point, 14-12. The upset-minded Highlanders made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a block, 14-13, but Aaron Russell put down a kill to wrap up the fifth set, 15-13, and a 3-2 comeback win.

Player of the Match

Aaron Russell. The senior earned his third double-double of the season, pacing the offense with 26 kills on .362 hitting while adding a match-high 15 digs.

Match Notes

  • Jalen Penrose added a career-high 21 kills on .308 hitting with five digs and three blocks.
  • Matt Callaway tallied a match-high seven blocks, while Connor Curry led the defense with 10 digs.
  • Penn State (12-9, 6-0) continues to lead the EIVA, with Princeton (9-8, 5-2) trailing closely behind.
  • This is just the second time Penn State has dropped two sets in a win this season. The Lions earned a five-set victory over Ohio State last weekend.

What’s Next?

After a three-match home stand, the Nittany Lions hit the road next week, traveling to conference foe George Mason (8-10, 3-3). Penn State takes on the Patriots for the second time this season Friday, April 3 at 7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va. having swept the Patriots at home on Valentine’s Day.

Image: Mark Selders/

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.


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