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March 29, 2014
Aaron Russell led the No. 13 Penn State men's volleyball team (17-6, 8-1) to a straight-set victory (25-18, 25-17, 25-18) against George Mason (11-11, 5-5) in the regular-season home finale at Rec Hall Saturday evening.
Russell also tied for first on the team with a .444 hitting clip, adding one ace, seven digs and three blocks. Senior Peter Russell followed close behind with eight kills and two blocks. With a match-high 11 digs, Peter earned the final Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match honor of the 2014 season. Redshirt junior Nick Goodell tied for second on the squad with eight kills, while also notching seven digs, two aces and three blocks.
Using a balanced effort, Penn State out-blocked the Patriots 9.50-4.50. Six different Nittany Lions recorded multi-block performances in the victory, led by redshirt freshman Matt Callaway who led the way with five total blocks.
Tied up early in the first set, 4-4, the Nittany Lions used a 5-0 streak to pull away with a four-point advantage, 8-4. A PSU attack error interrupted the rhythm, but a GMU error and a block from Aaron and redshirt sophomore Matt Seifert kept Penn State ahead by as many as six, 11-5.
PSU continued to maintain at least a five-point lead, 15-10, until the Patriots used a 3-2 stretch to trim the advantage back to four, 17-13. Penn State quickly responded with three consecutive kills to rebuild its lead to seven, 20-13. George Mason made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a 5-2 streak, 22-18, but Peter, Aaron and Goodell all pounded back-to-back kills to close out a 25-18 win in the first set.
After trading the lead throughout the first half of the second set, the Nittany Lions rallied from behind by one, 12-11, with three straight kills from Peter, Aaron and Goodell to pull ahead by two, 14-12. The Patriots cut off the momentum with a kill, 14-13, but Penn State surged ahead with seven answered points to bolster the lead to eight, 21-13.
The Patriots looked to spark a run with a 3-2 stretch, 23-16, but a service error made it set-point, 24-16. George Mason held off one attempt with a kill, 24-17, but Goodell answered with a kill to lock up a 25-17 win in the second set.
With Penn State leading by one, 4-3, the Patriots put together 6-2 streak to claim a three-point lead, 9-6. Recovering, the Nittany Lions countered with a 6-1 run, featuring three kills from Aaron to recapture the advantage, 12-10. GMU managed to re-tie the frame with a 3-1 spurt, but PSU took off on a 5-0 run, finished off with a triple block from Callaway, Goodell and Peter to make it 17-12, forcing the Patriots to call a timeout.
George Mason came out of the block with a 3-2 stretch to arrive within four, 19-15, but a GMU error and an ace from Peter kept Penn State on top, 21-15. The Patriots looked to spark another run with a 2-1 spurt, but the Nittany Lions finished off the frame on a 3-1 run to seal a 25-18 win in set three to complete the sweep.
Next up, Penn State hits the road, closing out the regular season with five consecutive EIVA conference matches. The Nittany Lions travel to Harvard Friday, April 4 for an 8 p.m. tilt before visiting Sacred Heart Saturday, April 5 for an 8:30 p.m. matchup.