By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's volleyball never quite got going Friday night, falling to the Princeton Tigers in three sets, 25-23, 25-17, 25-17.
"Hats off to them," Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I'm disappointed in the fact that I didn't have our guys understand what level they needed to compete to be successful tonight. We talked this week about how there is nothing on the line for us, we're in the playoffs, but that can be a kiss of death. The last thing you want to do is try to ramp back up."
Penn State's Calvin Mende returned to the floor, collecting six kills in his first game since late March.
"I started practicing Tuesday and started to get back into the swing of things," Mende said. "I feel pretty good. I don't see a major difference from where I left off, maybe just a little slow here, a little smaller jump there."
Penn State won't have much time to make adjustments but Mende does think there are some simple things the Nittany Lions could work on ahead of Saturday's regular season home finale.
"Definitely our energy to start off the sets," Mende said. "You can't go down 5-1 or 6-1. If you come out fast, it could be a different game. We definitely need to improve communication. We had some scramble plays where the ball dropped but somebody could've gotten it."
For the Nittany Lions, a quick turnaround playing Saturday night might just help them move past the tough loss.
"I think we already have," sophomore Jason Donorovich said about the loss. "After what coach said and what we feel right now, it's not too hard to flip the switch because no one wants this feeling again. Basically you walk out of the locker room and it's over with."
That message from Pavlik after the game was simple, shake it off.
"Nobody had a good night including myself," Pavlik said. "I told them the chart that I kept was probably one of the worst kept charts of my career and I think the whole idea here is what's done is now done. You can't get it back and we can't carry it with us. So let's make sure we don't carry it with us. Shower it off, pass and serve tomorrow, let's get ready for New Jersey Tech."
The goal remains the same for the Nittany Lions, to close out the season strong and take it game by game working toward an EIVA Championship and a NCAA bid for a shot at the title.
Penn State is back in action at 7 p.m. hosting NJIT in its final regular season match.