No. 7 Men’s Volleyball Clinches Regular Season Conference Title, Beats Sacred Heart 3-1
Penn State men’s volleyball kept on rolling on Saturday night as it won its tenth straight match, this time in four sets over EIVA rival Sacred Heart. The win clinched the regular season conference title for the 31st time in program history. Heading into the night knowing that the title was on the line, the Nittany Lions showed up ready to play and buried the Pioneers 25-15, 20-25, 25-17, 25-18.
How It Happened
After sweeping Sacred Heart in Fairfield earlier in the season, Penn State finished off the season series comfortably in this one. The Nittany Lions never trailed in the first set, and when the score was 19-12 in favor of the home team, Penn State scored five straight points to put a stranglehold on the lead. Nick Goodell’s fourth kill of the set put it away, 25-15.
The second set was neck-and-neck for most of its duration, but once Sacred Heart took the lead at 10-9, it never trailed again. Penn State kept it close, never trailing by more than five points, but couldn’t mount a comeback and ultimately fell, 25-20.
Now that the Pioneers had won their first set against Penn State in five attempts this season, the Nittany Lions showed what they were capable of in the final two. With the score tied at 12 in the third set, Penn State won 13 of the final 18 points and took it 25-17.
With Sacred Heart on the ropes, the fourth and final set played out similarly to the third — though once Penn State took a 5-4 lead, it never let its opponents even tie the game. The largest lead of the set was four points, until it was 20-18, at which point Penn State won the next five points and sent Sacred Heart to the buses disappointed for the second time this season.
Player of the Game
Outside Hitter Chris Nugent. The sophomore led the match with a .545 hitting percentage, and had eight kills and two errors on 11 total attempts.
- With the win, the Nittany Lions move to 9-0 in EIVA play. On their remaining schedule is Princeton, NJIT, and Saint Francis – teams that they beat 3-0, 3-2, and 3-0 earlier in the season.
- The biggest storyline following the team this season has been its rebound following its slow start. Losers of its first six matches, Penn State has gone on to win 15 out of 18, become ranked at No. 7 in the nation, and clinch its conference with three EIVA matches left to play.
- Nick Goodell, Aaron Russell, and Taylor Hammond also all had solid games against Sacred Heart. Goodell had the most kills in the match with 14, Russell led his team with three services aces and had the second most total attempts on offense, and Hammond had 37 of his team’s 39 assists.
Penn State will be heading to the Garden State next weekend to take on Princeton Friday night and NJIT on Saturday.