COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn State men's volleyball has arrived in Columbus, set to kick off the NCAA Tournament in the opening round match against Hawaii Tuesday evening at St. John Arena.
The Nittany Lions left Happy Valley Sunday morning, arriving at Ohio State with time to get in a practice. Penn State hosted one more practice Monday evening before a serve and pass session on gameday.
Penn State saw two Nittany Lions earn AVCA All-America honors Monday. Senior Chris Nugent earned second team honors while Mende picked up honorable mention distinction. While Mende's honor is the first of his career, Nugent's marks his second, having earned honorable mention laurels last year.
Both Mende and Nugent have been atop the Nittany Lion offense this year with Nugent averaging 3.26 kills per set and Mende close behind at 3.23 kills per set, with each ranking seventh and sixth in the NCAA national standings, respectively.
Penn State and Hawaii last met in the play-in round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament on the road in Palo Alto, California at Stanford. Of the nine Nittany Lions to see the court in the four-set win (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25), three are still currently on the roster. Among the trio, Nugent finished third on the team with 15 kills on .400 hitting, adding five digs and two blocks.
As Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik noted earlier last week, while postseason familiarity does help, what it really comes down to is each individual managing a variety of outside distractions and extra responsibilities in addition to what's happening on the court.
Part of managing postseason responsibilities in May also means finals. To ensure Nittany Lions are not falling behind, Penn State associate director for counseling, eligibility and compliance and academic counselor Jim Weaver is busy setting up time slots and proctoring exams right here on location in Columbus, Ohio.