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No. 3 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps Princeton 3-0

No. 3 Penn State men’s volleyball (10-1, 1-0) took care of business against Princeton (4-7, 0-1) in its opening match of the EIVA conference slate Friday evening.

Out for revenge after Princeton knocked Penn State out of the EIVA tournament semifinals last season, the Nittany Lions showed no mercy in the three-set victory. Toby Ezeonu had himself a night, recording 11 kills in the Penn State victory. Cal Fisher also proved pivotal as he scored 11.5 points himself.

How It Happened

A Cal Fisher double block opened up the scoring and gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 advantage. Owen Rose brought the heat and notched the first service ace of the evening to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 5-2. Princeton responded with a few points of its own and the lead was cut to 5-4.

Fisher, who took over serving, went on a tear for Penn State and forced a Princeton timeout while the score was 9-4. The Tigers scored the next three points to get back into the set before committing a service error.

Toby Ezeonu unsurprisingly showed up to the party for the Nittany Lions and had a thunderous kill that brought the crowd to its feet. After another service error for Penn State, the lead was only 14-12. Midway through the first set, Ezeonu established his presence at the net with two big-time blocks.

Fisher notched another ace following a Penn State timeout. The graduate student had the hot hand throughout the first set and after a few consecutive points, the score was 21-15 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

Penn State coach Mark Pavlik challenged a point late in the first set that was upheld and the Tigers were down 22-18. The Nittany Lions finished off the opening set via a service ace coming from Brett Wildman.

Similar to the opening set, Penn State jumped out to a hot start in the second set, racking up the first three points –– two on aces from Wildman. The Nittany Lions continued to dominate, as Ezeonu fired off his fifth kill of the match. Princeton called its first timeout of the second set after falling behind 9-2.

Princeton began to slowly inch back into the set after the timeout. The Tigers’ Henry Wedbush got hot serving, bringing the score to 11-7. Michal Kowal finished a back-and-forth rally between both squads with a kill and extended the lead to 15-9.

Pavlik called his first timeout of the second set after Princeton got within three points. Although Fisher restarted play with a Penn State ace, Princeton’s Wedbush came up with a clutch block to keep the score difference at three points.

Back-to-back misplays by the Tigers forced the second timeout of the set, with the score reading 20-15. Princeton brought the score within three before Penn State called its own timeout at 22-19.

After a three-point run by the Tigers, Fisher served for set point, but the Tigers survived. Ezeonu finished things off via a kill on the next point, earning the Nittany Lions a 25-23 set victory.

Both squads opened the third set scoring. After a few kills for each, it was knotted up at 3-3. Doing what he does best, Fisher brought even more aces. The Nittany Lion advantage stood at 5-3 before Princeton tied it at six apiece.

After a heavily back-and-forth beginning to the third set, Penn State went on a three-point run to bring the lead to 13-10. Ezeonu terrorized the Tigers with repeated kills. Penn State held a 15-12 lead at the midway point of the set.

Princeton tied the set up at 16 moments later. A four-point run gave Penn State the 20-16 lead and an opportunity to sweep the Tigers. Owen Rose drilled a kill after a long rally and a few back-to-back points from Princeton. A Penn State attacking error diminished the lead to 23-19 late in the third.

Penn State held match point at 24-20 after an attacking error by Princeton. The Nittany Lions finished the night with a kill by Kowal, winning the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.

Takeaways:

  • Service aces proved to be the Nittany Lions’ bread and butter all night long. Penn State’s 13 aces were able to keep a big part of keeping a healthy lead over Princeton throughout.
  • Penn State won this match at the net, dominating in blocks. The team’s constant presence upfront will need to continue into its next matches for similar results.

What’s Next?

Penn State men’s volleyball will be back in action against Princeton on Saturday. The first set is slated for a 4 p.m. start at Rec Hall.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State. He's a huge Phillies fan, which has its pro and cons come October. You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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