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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 13 Penn State men's volleyball (6-4, 1-0 EIVA) defeated St. Francis (Pa.) (4-6, 0-1 EIVA) in three sets to open up EIVA play Friday night at Rec Hall.
Chris Nugent led the Nittany Lion offense collecting a team-high 16 kills, while Calvin Mende contributed 11 kills to the Penn State attack. Luke Braswell finished with 35 assists, and Nugent contributed on the defensive side of the ball totaling eight digs.
Defensively, Penn State combined for a total of 6.5 team blocks with Braswell and Matt Callaway posting two blocks apiece.
"I think this year's EIVA race is going to be one that's about protecting your home court, "said head coach Mark Pavlik.
"I can't say enough about the support we got from the wRECking crew, and from everybody else that showed up tonight," said Pavilk.
"The attendance was about 1,000 [people]; but, those people in the stands made it feel more like 3,000 [people]. Our players fed off their energy, and we never backed down. I thought we were as aggressive as we've been all season long, and if we can keep moving in this direction, I like the achievement level that Is possible for us at the end of the year," Pavlik continued.
In the first set, Penn State tallied 14 kills, and a sideout percentage of 66 percent to give the Nittany Lions the opening set in their 2017 EIVA season opener.
In an opening set that found the teams tied a match high nine times, Penn State was able to grab ahold of the lead, with L. Smith leading the charge with five kills.
The two teams were tied 19-19 late in the first set, before Penn State was able to take a 21-19 lead. They never relinquished that lead, and went on to win what seemed to be a close opening set in 25-21.
The second set of the match showed hints of the first set, as the score was tied five times.
Penn State opened up the set with a 3-0 run, before St. Francis (Pa.) responded with a 3-0 run of their own. The score was then tied four more times before the Nittany Lions took an 11-9 lead.
The Nittany Lions took their first major lead of the set when they found themselves up 15-11, and forced the Red Flash to call a timeout. That timeout did not hinder Penn State's momentum, as they were ultimately able to take the second set in 25-21.
The Nittany Lions returned from intermission on a strong note, with a match high sideout percentage of 72 percent, and a service ace from Chris Nugnent to end the match 25-18.
Penn State returns to action Friday, Feb. 10 as they travel to NJIT for their first road conference game at 7:00 p.m. ET.
For more on Nittany Lion men's volleyball, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateMVBall