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No. 2 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps Saint Francis 3-0

No. 2 Penn State men’s volleyball (18-2, 4-0 EIVA) swept Saint Francis (7-11) 3-0 in a non-conference home matchup Saturday night.

After struggling early, Cal Fisher and Brett Wildman found their footing and tallied an impressive 18 combined kills.

How It Happened

Errors ran rampant in the early stages of the first set, with only one kill being recorded by either team through the first 10 points of the match. Penn State struggled with the serve, which allowed the Red Flash to jump out to a quick 9-5 lead.

Toby Ezeonu recorded the first two kills of the match for the Nittany Lions, but the momentum didn’t last long after Saint Francis’ Thomas Leahey notched the first service ace of the match on a Penn State reception error.

Penn State trailed for the majority of the set in a very back-and-forth battle. Late in the set, an Ezeonu kill gave Fisher the serve, who aced the next two serves to tie the set at 22 after a 3-0 scoring run by the Nittany Lions.

Penn State held off two Saint Francis set points before dropping another point to make it 25-24 in favor of the Red Flash. A Fisher kill set up two consecutive service aces by Ezeonu as the Nittany Lions came storming back to claim the first set 27-25.

Penn State and Saint Francis started the second set in the same fashion as the first with both teams trading blows and being unable to hold serve for longer than two points.

Penn State was finally able to put together a scoring run later on in the second, leading to a Michal Kowal kill that gave the Nittany Lions a 15-13 lead, forcing a Saint Francis timeout.

Kowal, Fisher, and Wildman all registered kills during a surge late in the set that saw the Nittany Lions take their largest lead of 24-18.

The Nittany Lions faltered down the stretch, giving up a 4-0 scoring run, but a Saint Francis service error finished off the second set 25-22 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

Ezeonu picked up his third service ace of the night early in the third set during a 3-0 run from the Nittany Lions, giving them an early advantage. After a Saint Francis kill that ended the run, the Nittany Lions went right back to work, taking the next seven points and going up 17-9.

Saint Francis couldn’t shake the error bug and struggled to mount any sort of challenge in the third set. Fisher and Wildman continued to add to the Penn State kill total, with Saint Francis unable to find any answer to the Nittany Lion onslaught.

Penn State didn’t let up and continued to dominate until match point. The game ended the same way it began, with an error. A Saint Francis service error ended the set 25-14, and the Nittany Lions completed the sweep.

Takeaways:

  • Fisher and Wildman proved to be the difference makers in Saturday’s matchup. Their combined 18 kills and three service aces were huge momentum builders that came just when the Nittany Lions needed it most.
  • Service errors were once again very costly for Penn State early in the match. Penn State often lost the chance to set up long scoring runs after a plethora of unforced errors.
  • The third set is absolutely going to give the Nittany Lions a momentum boost going into their next match. The Nittany Lions struggled to look like the No. 2 team in the nation for much of the first two sets, but a return to form in the third set helped seal a convincing victory.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will be back in action against Ohio State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. The game will be streamed live on BTN+.

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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