Men’s Volleyball Wins 17th Consecutive EIVA Championship
Death, taxes, and Penn State volleyball.
For the 17th time in a row, Penn State men’s volleyball won the EIVA Championship, and did it in dominant fashion. After a 12-0 record in conference play during the regular season, Penn State clinched the top seed for the EIVA Tournament. In the first round/semifinals, the Nittany Lions swept Princeton, and then followed up the performance with another sweep of George Mason by a score of 25-16, 25-17, 25-17. Penn State, ranked No. 7 nationally at the end of the regular season, earned the EIVA’s automatic bid to the six-team NCAA Tournament.
How It Happened
As the scores suggest, the match was a consistent one for both sides. Besides the score of 0-0, George Mason was never able to hold a tie with Penn State, let alone a lead. Still, the Nittany Lions weren’t ever able to really pull away from the Patriots.
The first set began with two aces from EIVA Player of the Year Aaron Russell. The Patriots won two of the next three points, then dropped three straight. Once the Lions were able to create some separation, they dictated play for the rest of the set. About halfway through the set, Penn State led 15-9, its biggest lead up to that point. Mark Pavlik’s squad went on to win ten of the next 17 points, and put away the first set 25-16.
Two kills from Aaron Russell and one each from Chris Nugent and Matt Seifert shot the Lions out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Russell and Nugent continued dominating play for the rest of the first half of the set, but once their team had a 16-8 lead, George Mason made its biggest push of the match, winning five of the next six points to cut the deficit to just four. It wasn’t an overwhelming run, but it was the highlight of the match for Patriot fans. Penn State slowly rebuilt its big lead and took the second set 25-17.
For the third time in the match and the ninth time this season, Penn State put away George Mason comfortably. Aggressive offense mixed with errors on the other side of the net gave Penn State an encouraging 11-3 lead. With the margin of victory already established, the two teams traded points until the end of the set. Nick Goodell ended the night and the tournament with a service ace and clinched the third set, 25-17.
Player Of The Game
This section is usually reserved for Aaron Russell, and Nick Goodell is a tempting candidate because of his .409 hitting percentage, but this time we’ll give it to Chris Nugent. All three players had more kills than George Mason’s leader, Jack Wilson (who had seven). Russell led the Lions with 15, but Nugent was right behind him with 14 on two less attempts, so he had a match-high .632 hitting percentage to go along with one ace.
Penn State has clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is at 1 p.m. on May 2. Watch it here to be the first to find out Penn State’s seed and matchup.