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No. 8 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Completes Sweep Against No. 16 George Mason In 3-1 Thriller

No. 8 Penn State men’s volleyball (21-6, 10-0 EIVA) defeated No. 16 George Mason (17-9, 6-4 EIVA) 3-1 in Rec Hall Saturday afternoon.

After clinching the EIVA regular season title Friday night, the Nittany Lions rode that momentum into Saturday’s match and came out with another hard-fought victory. George Mason avoided the sweep by winning the third set, but it wasn’t enough as Penn State went on to win the fourth set to give it a 3-1 set victory on Senior Day.

How It Happened

The first set began with George Mason winning the first point before a kill by Toby Ezeonu put the Nittany Lions on the board. George Mason put its foot on the gas and went on to win six of the next nine points to take a 7-4 lead in the first set.

The Nittany Lions showed their resilience and took the lead in the set after a service ace by Michael Valenzi at 9-8. After Penn State took the lead, it went on a 4-0 run that was highlighted by kills by Michal Kowal and John Kerr, which forced George Mason to take a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Penn State kept riding its momentum and Ezeonu caused damage, recording another kill to increase Penn State’s lead to five. After that, the Nittany Lions went on to win five of the next eight points as they increased their lead to seven. Penn State refused to let its foot off the gas as it increased its lead to 11 and gave itself a set-point opportunity. However, George Mason refused to give up and saved two set points. The Nittany Lions finally capitalized on their third set opportunity as Ezeonu recorded a kill and Penn State went on to win the first set 25-16.

The second set began with both teams exchanging points before George Mason took the lead at 4-3. Its lead was short-lived as Owen Rose recorded a kill to tie the set at four. Both teams exchanged the next two points, and the Nittany Lions won the next two points after that to take a two-point lead.

George Mason fought back and tied up the set once again at 11. The set stayed tight but after Penn State took a 13-12 lead in the second set, Rose recorded a kill for the Nittany Lions to increase their lead to two. After the Patriots trimmed their deficit, Kerr came up big for the Nittany Lions as he recorded two straight kills to increase Penn State’s lead to three.

However, the Nittany Lions’ lead was short-lived as George Mason went on to win five of the next seven to tie the set at 18. Both teams exchanged scores for six straight points and the deadlock was broken when Kerr recorded another kill for the Nittany Lions to make it a 22-21 lead for Penn State.

George Mason showed its resilience and won two of the next three points to tie the setup once again. After that, Kerr came up with a big kill for Penn State to give it a set-point opportunity. The Nittany Lions converted on this opportunity thanks to a huge block by Kerr and Ezeonu to give Penn State a two-set lead.

The third set went underway with a kill by Ezeonu, which was followed by an error by George Mason. After the Nittany Lions won the first two points of the set, the Patriots responded by winning two straight points to tie the set at two. Both teams exchanged scores for four straight points before George Mason took the lead at 5-4. The Nittany Lions responded and tied the set at five thanks to a kill by Luke Snyder. Neither team pulled away in this set as both teams went blow-for-blow for ten straight points as the set was tied up at 10. However, George Mason started to gain traction as it went on a 5-3 run that forced Penn State to take a timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Nittany Lions showed their resilience by winning three straight points to tie the set at 17. However, the Patriots would not let the Nittany Lions ride their momentum as they responded by winning seven of the next 12 points to give themselves a 24-22 lead and a set-point opportunity. The Patriots capitalized on this opportunity when Ezeonu committed a service error to give George Mason the set victory 25-22.

The Patriots got on the board first in the fourth set before they committed a service error to tie the set at one. This error gave Penn State momentum as it won five of the next eight points to take a two-point lead. Then, the Nittany Lions increased their lead to three when Rose recorded a block. Both teams exchanged the next two scores before George Mason trimmed its deficit to two. The Nittany Lions responded by winning the next points, which was highlighted with a block by Kowal to increase their lead to four.

As Penn State’s four-point lead stayed intact for the next six points, Kerr increased the lead to five after recording a service ace. This led to a 3-0 run by the Nittany Lions, which increased their lead to eight. Even though George Mason didn’t allow Penn State to increase its eight-point lead for the next six points, the Nittany Lions increased their lead to nine at 21-12. After going blow-for-blow for six straight points, the Nittany Lions got their first match point and capitalized on it off Rose’s ace as it finished off the set 25-15.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions are riding a lot of momentum going into the EIVA Tournament. They will be heading into the EIVA Tournament on an eight-game winning streak and finished undefeated in EIVA conference play with a 10-0 record.
  • The Rec Hall factor keeps having a huge effect on Penn State matches. It ended the regular season with an unbeaten record at home and will have the opportunity to take advantage its home-court advantage with the upcoming EIVA Tournament.

What’s Next?

Penn State will play in the quarterfinals of the EIVA Tournament on Wednesday, April 17, at Rec Hall. The opponent and time are still to be determined.

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About the Author

Fernando Martinez

Fernando is a sophomore. He's 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 soccer, football, and basketball fan. His favorite teams are FC Barcelona, the Cowboys, and the Lakers. He suffers a lot from watching the Cowboys choke in the playoffs that he has been diagnosed with 49ers PTSD. You can follow him on Instagram at fernando9015 or email him at [email protected].

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