Penn State Men’s Volleyball’s Stats Tell Story Of Success Heading Into Final Regular-Season Series
The end of the Penn State men’s volleyball’s regular season is upon us, which means the postseason is looming.
The Nittany Lions secured the No. 1 seed in the EIVA Tournament and will host the conference tournament at Rec Hall from April 19 to 22. They’re surely hungry to avenge last year’s playoff loss, but can’t get distracted looking too far ahead.
Penn State is two wins away from tying its third-best regular season record in program history after recording an 8-0 regular-season record thus far. The only thing standing in its way is conference foe Charleston, which holds an impressive 22-4 record itself.
Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the squad will face Penn State in the midst of a 4-0 tear and two-straight sweeps over Harvard and George Mason. The Nittany Lions rode their dominant stretch to their third-straight regular-season EIVA title.
Cal Fisher proved to be a wrecking ball for Penn State last week, amassing 27 kills across two games against George Mason en route to receiving EIVA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Fisher, along with Brett Wildman, Toby Ezeonu, and Michal Kowal, lead the Nittany Lions’ lethal offensive attack that ranks first in the nation in aces per set (2.04). Fisher and Wildman have accounted for 78 of Penn State’s 186 total aces, compared to Charleston’s 98 as a team.
The service line is where Penn State can attempt to take advantage of a Golden Eagles squad that’s otherwise stout on defense. Charleston’s defense has 842 digs compared to Penn State’s 762.
While Penn State likes to spread the ball around, Charleston’s contributions are more clear-cut. The trio of Garret Schnitker, Lachlan Bray, and Luuk Hoge Bavel combine for 60% of the team’s kills.
In Penn State’s case, it helps libero Ryan Merk and company predict where the ball will go, which provides the Nittany Lions a much-needed boon on defense.
Charleston is among the best in the nation in blocks per set with 2.659, sitting in third place behind Long Beach State and UCLA — two of Penn State’s three losses this year. Veit Bils is the leader on the front line for the Golden Eagles, posting 1.078 blocks per set himself.
Charleston has four losses compared to Penn State’s three, but two of the Golden Eagles’ losses came at the hands of Princeton, who the Nittany Lions swept twice this season.
The Golden Eagles enter this matchup with 3-0 and 3-1 losses to Princeton on April 8 and 9, respectively.
Penn State has more firepower than Charleston, but the Golden Eagles can’t be taken lightly. If the Nittany Lions rely on their key playmakers, they should have nothing to worry about.
The first serve is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, April 14, at Rec Hall. The regular-season finale will follow at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.
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