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A Total Team Effort Drives Pavlik's Lions

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just seven matches under its belt in the 2013 season, Mark Pavlik's roster of 17 collegiate volleyball players has already established its style of play.

No matter who makes up the starting seven that step out onto the court in blue and white jerseys donning Nittany Lion logos, the Penn State men's volleyball team is going to work hard for every point it earns.

8528055.jpegIn his 19 seasons at the helm of the program, Pavlik said that this year's group of Division I athletes is the most blue-collar and determined team he has ever seen.

"We sweat well," said Pavlik. "You ask them to go and they go as hard as they can for as long as they can. They're supportive of each other, they push each other, they're learning how to hold each other accountable right now and I think they're getting a good sense of their team identity."

The team includes 13 returning players and features three returning starters, including Aaron Russell, Connor Curry and Nick Turko. Curry and Turko serve as two of the three team captain's this season, along with Tom Comfort.

As captains, the three are successfully leading their team not only on the court but also by the numbers. To start the season, Comfort comes in averaging a team-high 3.08 kills per set while Turko holds another top spot with 0.96 blocks per set. Curry, who once again is the starting libero, leads the group with a total of 70 digs.

But Pavlik said that this team believes in its strength in numbers and has the ability to present multiple authoritative options.

"I think everybody's on the board and leaders aren't one or two people," said Pavlik. "It's the specific times that different people with different strengths can say something or do something or show something that gets everybody saying 'Yeah that is what we're about'."

Pavlik said that he believes in the team's bond as teammates both on and off the court, even when he doesn't see everything that goes on. The head coach said that that inner strength is something his Lions will need up against a challenging conference schedule.

"This is going to be the toughest EIVA of my career," said Pavlik. "The EIVA is going to be so brutal this year. It's going to be fun and this is going to be something that our guys have really wanted to do - to go through a league schedule where nothing is taken for granted."

So far, the Lions are 2-0 in conference play and looking to continue that success as the EIVA season swings into full gear in the coming weeks. Pavlik said that at the end of the season, his team sees themselves hosting a conference tournament and taking the crown - and he is hopeful that nothing will deter it from doing so.

"We've got to make sure that we take care of getting better every day in the gym and not let outside distractions come in or more importantly not let inside distractions carry us away from the mission that this group wants to be on."

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