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Penn State Men’s Volleyball Raising Level Of Play During Final Stretch Of Regular Season

Penn State men’s volleyball is on the brink of winning another regular-season EIVA conference title. After taking care of business against Harvard last week, the Nittany Lions will hit the road for two matches against Charleston with a chance to clinch the conference championship by the end of the weekend.

Being 6-0 in EIVA conference play allowed Penn State to clinch a first-round bye in the EIVA Tournament. However, the Nittany Lions can still clinch something more meaningful: home-court advantage.

Home court has been a huge advantage for the Nittany Lions this season, going unbeaten at Rec Hall for over a year. All six losses this season have come on the road or at neutral sites.

“You don’t have to travel, especially the way that men’s volleyball has to travel,” Pavlik said. “I think that’s one of the top goals every year, that we want to host and not have to get on a bus someplace.”

This home-court advantage is not only evident based on the Nittany Lions’ record but also based on their stats. In their road games this season, Penn State has recorded 469 kills compared to its 574 kills at home. Also, the Nittany Lions are more prone to committing errors on the road as they committed 199 errors compared to the 154 errors committed at home.

With four regular-season games left, head coach Mark Pavlik said his team is in an “EIVA playoff-mode” mentality. The 30-year head coach stressed the importance of treating these upcoming games as playoff games with the EIVA Tournament on the horizon.  

Even though Charleston boasts the second-worst record in the EIVA at 2-4, Pavlik said it’s not a team to be overlooked. The Nittany Lions know any conference foe can present a challenge, especially on the road.

“These are not matches that we can take lightly,” Pavlik said. “We’ve got to be ready for a match where [Charleston] is going to come out and play us like it’s their championship, especially at home.”

The message has been true for the Nittany Lions this season, as they have beaten all their unranked opponents except Purdue Fort Wayne. In that match, Penn State was coming off a sweep against No. 15 Ball State and had to travel the next day to take on Purdue Fort Wayne, a match which ended in a five-set loss for the Nittany Lions.

Even though this year’s squad hasn’t been as dominant as last year’s Final Four team, the Nittany Lions have shown a lot of resilience to still be in the driver’s seat and not depend on others for help. Pavlik mentioned the benefits of knowing his team controls its destiny for the rest of the regular season.

“You don’t have to scoreboard watch, you don’t worry about things you can’t control,” Pavlik said. “Things you can control, you can control indirectly to your success.”

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About the Author

Fernando Martinez

Fernando is a sophomore who is majoring in broadcast journalism with the intention of minoring in Spanish and Sports Studies. Born in Mexico City and now lives in Paoli, PA, he is a big fan of pretty much every sport. His favorite teams are FC Barcelona, the Cowboys, and the Phillies which involves a lot of suffering for him. You can follow him on Instagram at fernando9015 or email him at [email protected] if you have questions on why he is a Cowboys and Phillies fan.

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