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No. 14 Lions Begin Postseason Hunt

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Postseason volleyball in Rec Hall is something that Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik is very familiar with, but can't seem to get enough of.

8870577.jpeg"The smile on my face doesn't even begin to explain my anticipation," said Pavlik.

Less than three weeks ago, the Nittany Lions clinched their 29th EIVA season title and earned the right to the top-seed in the conference tournament. Tomorrow, Penn State will play host to that tournament as Rec Hall welcomes three more EIVA teams to the conference championship.

Action in University Park begins on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. as Harvard and George Mason compete in the first semifinal conference match. Following that contest, the Lions will take on Princeton in the second semifinal of the evening. The winners of both matches will then square off on Saturday at 7 p.m. to decide the EIVA tournament champion.

The four conference teams know one another very well, as they each met at least twice during the regular season. For the Lions, their meeting with Princeton will be the third in the last three months. Pavlik says that having a strong familiarity with a team helps, but the end-result really boils down to who makes the least amount of errors. 

"The first time you face a team, you have an idea based off of video," said Pavlik. "The second time you face a team, you've seen them live once and you have a feel for what they do but they also have a feel for you. I think that third time you're really comfortable playing them and there aren't going to be many surprises."

And speaking of familiarity, Pavlik says it helps that the Lions are beginning the postseason on the court that they know best in front of the fans that support them the most.

"If we survive (semifinals) and get into the finals, I think our home crowd won't be disappointed," said Pavlik. "I think that playoff crowds that come to any postseason play on campus, it's just a heightened atmosphere. These are well-tenured volleyball fans who enjoy coming out to watch and it's great to have it at home."

It will be the 16th consecutive year that Rec Hall has played host to the EIVA Championships, dating back to 1998 when the first tournament came to town.

But the end goal is bigger than just a conference championship. The team that wins the EIVA tournament this weekend secures a spot in the 2013 NCAA Men's Volleyball Championships in Los Angeles, Calif. next week.

From week to week, Pavlik said that his team has been focusing on the next match ahead and trying not to look too far ahead of themselves. Even now that their first match of the postseason is upon them, the head coach said that the mentality stays the same.

"We've got a one-game series," said Pavlik. "They've gotten better and we've gotten better and it's just going to be a great matchup for the first night."

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