Men’s Volleyball Sweeps Princeton, Moves To EIVA Finals
Penn State swept Princeton to improve its conference record to 5-0 on March 27. Penn State beat the Tigers in four sets to improve to 10-0 on April 17. And then on Wednesday night, after having completed a 12-0 EIVA regular season, the top-seeded Nittany Lions swept the fourth-seeded Tigers in the first round of the EIVA Tournament by a score of 25-20, 25-17, 25-10.
The win comes after an already-successful week for the team, as two members were named to the All-EIVA first team and two made the second team. Head coach Mark Pavlik, who won his 500th-career match in the last match of the regular season, was named the conference’s coach of the year. The Nittany Lions ended the regular season with 14 straight wins and an 18-9 record.
How It Happened
Princeton got off to an early start, winning 13 of the first 23 points. The Nittany Lions — and specifically Jalen Penrose (who had three quick errors in the set) — struggled out of the gate. Regardless, in typical Penn State fashion, the home team took its first lead of the set at the 15-14 mark following a 5-1 run. Once the Nittany Lions took the lead, they cruised to a 25-20 first set win. With Princeton on the ropes, a block by Penrose, Matt Seifert, and Chris Nugent finished it off.
The second set started like the first, with Princeton earning another 3-2 lead. Instead of playing catch-up like they had the first set, the Nittany Lions took control from that point on. They came back to tie the set at six, then went on a 16-8 run to take a 22-14 lead, the biggest of the stanza. EIVA Player of the Year Aaron Russell earned his team’s 23rd point with his 14th kill of the match, then two points later, back-to-back kills from Seifert and Russell ended it at 25-17 and Penn State took a 2-0 lead.
One set away from a berth in the finals, the Lions used the third set to exhibit why they are by far and away the best team in the conference. A disheartened Tigers offense mixed with a tired defense resulted in Penn State shooting off to a 12-2 lead. Pavlik’s team showed no mercy in the final set and never allowed Princeton to score consecutive points. Penn State won 13 of the final 21 points to win the set 25-10 and the match 3-0.
Player of the Game
EIVA MVP Aaron Russell, as usual. The dominant and dynamic outside hitter had a match-high 19 kills, while Princeton’s Cody Kessel had the second-most with a mere eight.
Penn State will be at Rec Hall on Friday at 7 p.m. to take on the George Mason Patriots (who upset the second-seeded Harvard Crimson) in the EIVA Finals.
Image: Craig Houtz/Penn State