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Lions Serve Up Back-to-Back Sweeps

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A Division I men's volleyball match showcases a lot of emotion in just a few short sets. There's a lot of yelling, whistling, hollering and even hugging. But the athletes will tell you that the more energy they can create in a single match, the better.

8536014.jpegThe sixth-ranked Lions did just that in their third-straight weekend at home with sweeps over both Pfeiffer and Mount Olive of the Conference Carolinas. After building their programs for two years, the sport of men's volleyball enters the southern conference for the first time this season and both teams are beginning to establish a reputation in the world of collegiate volleyball.

For head coach Mark Pavlik's renowned Nittany Lions, the chance to host two budding teams in one weekend provides a unique opportunity.

"It's a different team for us to go against," said Pavlik. "These were two totally different-rhythmed teams that presented different challenges. We need that."

As a coach, Pavlik said that the ability to have most of his roster get a feel for playing in a live match is crucial. He says that when it comes down to it, there is no substitute for understanding what it feels like to play when the lights are on, the crowd is watching and the points really matter.

"I think any time you can get guys experience feeling something other than what they feel in practice... if we have the opportunity to get our guys experience with that, we're going to do that," said Pavlik.

Thirteen of the 17 rostered Lions saw the floor on the weekend, including Friday night's offensive firepower Scott Kegerreis and Saturday's hot-hand Nick Goodell. Although neither made the start on either night, the two were heavily showcased for the first time this season, as Tom Comfort has been the go-to opposite.

Kegerreis recorded a match-high 11 kills on .769 hitting against Pfeiffer on Friday night. He said that being back on the court and consistently swinging in front of a Rec Hall crowd is something that truly can't be replicated.

"It's a totally different atmosphere from practice to a game," said Kegerreis. "When we practice the bleachers are up and people are just running around the track but with a game it's totally different. The whole atmosphere is different so it makes it more tough to play but it's definitely fun."

In addition to key players having big nights, Penn State maintained a spread offense and showcased its serving talents to take control of the weekend at home. The Lions recorded 11 service aces and put up the same number of blocks over the two matches. That pressure behind the end-line and tough play at the net helped to keep their opponents guessing and enabled the Lions to take advantage of a few timely hitting situations.

Peter Russell, who started both contests and tallied 11 kills on the weekend, said that it's important for he and his teammates to not only 'keep up the good work' but also continue to improve.

"I think the big thing is just staying steady," said Russell. "One thing that the coaches always emphasize is just stringing together good plays instead of trying to be great sometimes. The nature of the game is that it's going to be a battle."

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