No. 7 Men’s Volleyball Defeats Winless NJIT In Four Sets At Rec Hall
Coming off seven straight victories, No. 7 men’s volleyball came into THON weekend as one of the hottest teams in the country. The Nittany Lions were in Rec Hall on Friday night to play a winless NJIT team in what was the first game of an 11-game homestand.
How It Happened
Penn State entered the game as a heavy favorite over NJIT thanks to the Higlanders’ 0-8 record. However, the Highlanders were ready to take on a top 10 team and really showed it to begin the match. NJIT was a tough competitor in the first set of the game. The first set remained close with neither team gaining a large lead. NJIT shocked Penn State and took the first set 25-21.
The Nittany Lions learned from their mistakes in the first set and came out in the second to take control of the match. On defense, Penn State was dominant and had a sequence of three consecutive blocks to keep NJIT at a distance. Leading 20-17, Penn State let the Highlanders come back and tie the set up at 20. Despite the scare, the Nittany Lions prevailed and took the second set 25-21.
The third set was a much more dominating performance for Penn State. The Nittany Lions led by seven at one point, and made some impressive plays to take the third set 25-20. The set was highlighted by a rally play in which junior Chris Nugent had to have traveled more than ten feet out of bounds to track down and hit the ball back in play. NJIT made it close in the end as it fought off four straight match points, but couldn’t hold on to take the set.
The Highlanders went into the fourth set playing in a fashion similar to the way they played in the third set. Penn State took the early lead, but NJIT kept it close throughout. After trailing a majority of the set, Penn State reclaimed the lead by going up 20-16. NJIT came back to tie the game at 20, and wouldn’t give up to try and knock off a top 10 opponent. Chris Nugent scored the last two points to help Penn State take the set 25-22 and to take its eighth consecutive victory.
Player Of The Game
Chris Nugent | Junior | Outside Hitter
Nugent was Penn State’s leader in terms of production against NJIT. His production came thanks to the powerful spikes Nugent had in his arsenal. Nugent was productive from beginning to end and was able to give Penn State relief from NJIT as he broke the 22-22 tie in the fourth set and scored the final two points of the game.
Penn State stays in Happy Valley to take on Princeton on Saturday, February 20 at 4 p.m. at South Gym before taking on Charleston on February 26 at 4 p.m.