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Pavlik Earns 500th Career Win, Men’s Volleyball Claims EIVA Title In Sweep Over Saint Francis

In the season finale of his 21st season at the helm, men’s volleyball coach Mark Pavlik picked up his 500th career victory as No. 7 Penn State swept conference foe Saint Francis, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22. It was the Nittany Lions 14th-straight victory, securing an undefeated EIVA season for the third time in the last five years and 31st regular season conference title.

How It Happened

Penn State started the match strong, racing to a 5-2 lead in the opening frame. The Red Flash battled back to pull within two, 8-6, but Penn State answered with a 4-1 run to move ahead 12-7. The Lions and Red Flash would battle point-for-point to make it 17-12, and Aaron Russell started a 5-2 run with a kill to stretch the lead to 22-15. A kill from Russell and Jalen Penrose would later give Penn State set point at 24-19, and after Saint Francis held off two attempts, the Red Flash sent a serve into the net to secure the first set for the Lions.

The Nittany Lions found themselves trailing 5-2 early in the second set, but used a 6-3 run to tie the score at 8 apiece. Both teams couldn’t pull away, trading points and keeping the score knotted at 16-16. A 6-0 run by Penn State would finally break the tie, with a triple block from Russell, Nick Goodell and Matt Seifert putting the exclamation point on a 22-16 PSU lead. Saint Francis halted the streak with a kill, but the Lions did not falter, taking the second set with ease, 25-19.

Much like the two previous sets, the third set was a tight affair from the start, opening with a 9-9 tie. Penn State moved ahead by two, 11-9, thanks to an SFU error and a solo block from Russell before widening the gap to four, 15-11. A 6-3 PSU streak would build the lead up to five, 21-16, but Saint Francis fought back with a 3-1 run of their own to pull within three, 22-19. Looking to close things out with another sweep, a 2-1 stretch gave the Nittany Lions match point. The Red Flash would once again hold off a pair of attempts, but Russell put down one final kill for a 25-22 set win to complete the sweep.

Player of the Game

In his final EIVA regular season match after an illustrious career, Aaron Russell finished with a team-high 16 kills on .462 hitting with two aces, while also tying for first on the team with five blocks.

Quote of the Game

“More than anything else, in the last 500 (wins), I can say that I haven’t served the ball, passed the ball, hit the ball,” Pavlik told GoPSUsports. “The real credit goes to the guys that came before and made everything possible.”

“The most thing I’m proud of is we continued to build on the strong foundation that (former coach) Tom Tait established when he started this program in the late 70’s. All the alums out there, I’m really proud of what you guys have started.”

Tweet of the Game

Instead of a Gatorade bath, the team doused Pavlik in silly string to celebrate his momentous victory.

Game Notes

  • Pavlik’s career record moves to 500-151, a winning percentage of 76.8 percent.
  • Penn State led in every statistical category, with more kills (41), assists (41), aces (2), digs (24), blocks (6.5) and a higher hitting percentage (33.3 percent).
  • Nick Goodell finished second on the team with nine kills while adding four digs, and redshirt senior Connor Curry added a team-high 11 digs.

What’s Next?

Penn State will host the 2015 EIVA Championships for the 18th consecutive year April 29 – May 1. The Lions will be the No. 1 overall seed in the field with Harvard, Princeton and George Mason.

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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