By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Balance and a few key contributions from the bench were the key to Penn State's EIVA regular season clinching victory against Charleston (W. Va.) Friday night at Rec Hall.
Penn State used a solid all around attack, dipping into a talented Nittany Lion bench to clinch the regular season EIVA berth and home court advantage throughout the EIVA Championships.
"We clinched tonight, so we can check that off our list," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "We knew coming in to this game that one win over the weekend would get us the regular season title and we wanted to get that done tonight."
Penn State was lead by a solid performance from Aidan Albrecht, who finished with 11 kills and was the only Nittany Lion to register double figure kills. Albrecht has been a main stay in the lineup all season long, but Penn State has needed an abundance of Nittany Lions to step up this season.
Come Friday night, it was middle Jason Donorovich.
"It was great to get in to a game situation and get some good swings for my team," Donorovich said. "I've been working hard in practice so I'm glad it paid off in the match."
Donorovich finished with five kills on eight swings and a match high .625 hitting percentage. He was in the match from the second set on and it was his longest stretch as a starter this season. Penn State has relied on performances like his all season long to get to reach its EIVA regular season title.
"In practice, the A team pushes the B team and the B team pushes the A team," libero Royce Clemens said after the match. "It has been like that all season long and that's why you see so many people like Jason and others on the team get kills and look comfortable stepping up in big situations. For us it's nothing new."
Something new for the Nittany Lions this year was not being defending EIVA champions. From the outset, they talked about having a chip on their shoulder, noting the goal was to not only host the EIVA's, but win the championship this year.
"We talked about it a lot for sure," Luke Braswell said. "I don't think we ever let it leave our minds. You don't forget losing on your home court like that and we are happy to have a chance to defend our home court this season."
Penn State will have a chance to defend home court and will also have a chance to honor its seniors tomorrow night against George Mason. Chris Nugent and Matt Callaway are the only two seniors on the Penn State team, but have meant so much for the Nittany Lions, their fans and the entire community through their five years on campus.
"It will be great to recognize them," Pavlik said. "In their years they have seen just about anything you can see on a volleyball court, this year is no difference and they have taken everything in stride. It is exciting to honor them and it is even more exciting to know that it won't be their last match at Rec Hall."
Penn State will honor its seniors before the 7 p.m. first serve against George Mason. Round one of the EIVA tournament will be next Thursday with Penn State's opponent yet to be determined.