By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Matt Seifert has been on the University Park campus as a student and a member of the men's volleyball team for one and a half seasons of volleyball now. But it wasn't until the start of this year that he became a bigger piece of the puzzle.
In his freshman season with the team, Seifert redshirted and stood on the sideline, learning the ways of the program behind big names like seniors Joe Sunder and Edgardo Goas. Seifert said that it didn't take long for him to understand just what kind of team he had signed up for.
"It was easy for me to come here because it made sense," said Seifert. "The way that the guys play and the expectations that the coaches have for us are exactly what I was looking for. I knew I fit in."
The Reading, Pa., native said that his choice to become a Nittany Lion was also a natural one because he had been around the program for many years prior to his official visit to the school.
"I started playing volleyball in high school and there was always a tournament in State College that we went to," said Seifert. "That was always during the EIVA playoffs for [Penn State]. When I grew up through volleyball, I kind of grew up with this program watching them play and watching them win."
And the redshirt freshman has been helping the team to continue doing just that.
Seifert has started all 13 matches that the Lions have played this season, recording a 10-3 mark overall and a 4-1 tally in conference play. The middle hitter has truly become a triple-threat on the Lions' side of the net.
Almost halfway into the season, Seifert leads the team with a .402 hitting percentage, has tallied 10 service aces and comes in with a second-best effort of 30 total blocks.
But his numbers aren't the only thing intimidating about him at first glance.
Seifert's pure physicality sets him apart. His strong build paired with a towering height of 6-foot-9 has been acknowledged by several opponents, and it has even earned him a few new nicknames. Most recently, Seifert has been compared to the strongest, most cartoon, green guy there is - The Incredible Hulk.
"I think it comes from the way I am," said Seifert. "Obviously I'm one of the bigger, more physical guys and I think it's just because I bring intensity to the court. If I'm going to play I'm going to win so, I think people see that."
Amongst his teammates, Seifert said that he acts a bit more approachable. He likes to joke around and have fun during practice when he can, including putting on a few accents and imitations of head coach Mark Pavlik from time to time. And when most of the team talks to him or calls him out for a clutch play, Seifert said they usually use an entirely different nickname.
"They call me Mouse," said Seifert. "Connor [Curry] gave me that one. I don't know where it came from but I like it. It's definitely starting to stick."
But regardless of his individual statistics and names, Seifert said that this season's outcome isn't going to rely on the talent of just one person. Instead, the redshirt freshman said that it's going to take a team effort to achieve the goals that the Lions have set for themselves. In order to do that, Seifert said that he and his teammates simply have to stick together.
"The biggest thing we can all do right now is stay behind each other," said Seifert. "We need to keep motivating each other in practice and do anything we can do as a team."