Defense & Serving Propells Penn State Men’s Volleyball To EIVA Championship Win

A week ago, Penn State men’s volleyball went 2-0 against George Mason in two matchups. Two themes that stuck out were the Nittany Lions’ ability to keep up with the Patriots in aces and Penn State’s dominating in blocks. George Mason is 10th in the country in aces per set, mostly because of Omar Hoyos, who is sixth in the country in the category.

George Mason had 13 aces to Penn State’s 12 in the two matches and the Nittany Lions dominated at the net with 23 blocks to the Patriots’ nine. With a chance for revenge in the EIVA Championship, it was more of the same for the reigning champions.

“Unfortunately, I think their defense tonight was a little bit better than ours,” George Mason head coach Jay Hosack said postgame. “We dug a lot of balls. We couldn’t convert many and they were converting a lot of them and I think that was the difference from my perspective.”

The Nittany Lions had 12 more digs and eight more assists than George Mason did and like last week’s matches, Penn State controlling the net battle was a factor in the match. George Mason kept pace with the Nittany Lions and was out-blocked 12-11, but Penn State’s head coach Mark Pavlik was still satisfied in the net battle.

“I thought our blocking defense did a great job,” Pavlik said after the game. “After that first game, we locked into what they were doing.”

Contrary to last weekend, George Mason played well at the net and forced Penn State to work for its blocks and kills. However, the Patriots lacked at the service line in the championship game. The Nittany Lions had 12 aces and George Mason had just three.

Typically, a lot of aces come with a lot of errors, but Penn State was more turnover-adverse than George Mason was. George Mason had 15 service errors to its three aces, compared to Penn State’s 13 service errors to its 12 aces.

“That’s a pretty big ratio,” Hosack said. “Usually, coaches are happy with two or three errors per ace and they went 12 aces for 13 errors. I find it hard to believe any team is going to lose with that kind of service game.”

The two biggest components to Penn State’s success at the line were Michal Kowal and true freshman Michael Schwob. Along with his five aces, Schwob had 47 assists and was able to build his connection with Toby Ezeonu in the middle. The senior finished his final conference championship game with 18 kills, two aces, and hit .625.

“Here’s a first-year guy that it was made mentioned in our locker room after the match that we were really impressed with his composure tonight, in probably the biggest match that he’s played to date,” Pavlik said of Schwob. “But I thought when we needed a ball made hittable, Michael did that really well tonight, and I thought that he and Toby started to get on the same page.”

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About the Author

Mitch Corcoran

Mitch is a junior broadcast journalism major from Johnstown, PA. He is a big Pittsburgh sports fan and in his free time he likes to listen to music, play video games, and rewatch old football games. He also loves Seinfeld, Star Wars, bucket hats, and Dua Lipa. If you want Justin Herbert propaganda or random sports content, follow him on Twitter/X @MitchCorc18 or email [email protected]

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