By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Rec Hall will play host to Division I men's volleyball for the fourth weekend in a row as Penn State hosts Saint Francis and Ohio State.
The twinbill matches will be the end of what is currently an eight-game homestand for the Lions. They've already won six-straight on their home court, and they'll be looking to continue that trend on both Friday and Saturday night.
And playing just shy of a month-straight of matches inside your home gym is quite a generous cushion according to head coach Mark Pavlik.
"Everything is just in their routine," Pavlik said of his players. "They sleep in their own beds, they're in their own apartments or dorms, they go places they normally go... everything's just normal. Rec Hall just makes it that much more comfortable for them."
Pavlik said that the familiarity that the team has with its own facilities, from the locker rooms and showers to the training room and the court, creates an environment that is much more relaxing to be in. The head coach said that he and his staff don't mind staying right where they are either.
"We get to sleep in our own beds and we don't have to put up with any multi-hour bus rides, which can make a head coach cranky," said Pavlik.
Penn State's recent success has been at the hands of not just one or two or even three key athletes in Nittany Lion uniforms, but rather the entire roster from top to bottom. Pavlik has coined this year's team as the most 'blue-collar' group he's seen in his 19 season with the program.
In the same way, the collective effort contributes to not just one or two strengths that shine within the group but instead a hand full of weapons. The Lions have won matches largely thanks to their serving one night and their ability to sideout another.
And Pavlik says that one of the advantages of having a deep bench of talent is that those starters who are playing in every match get a bit of break.
"It makes it a lot easier to rest the older guys," said Pavlik. "We can get Aaron, who's taking a lot of swings, and Pete, who's taking a lot of swings, and Tommy, who's taking a lot of swings and rest them for games or portions of games where we know that we're not going to have that much of a drop off."
The Lions take on Saint Francis on Friday night at 7 p.m. and finish the weekend with Ohio State at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be good tests for Penn State as the Trojans have won three-straight and the Buckeyes are unbeaten on the road. But Pavlik said that heading into it, his team's focus is on the conference match-up.
"Saint Francis is the biggest match of the weekend for us because to get to where we want to go you've got to get through the EIVA and we'd like to win the EIVA," said Pavlik.