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CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It was not a typical easy three-setter for the Penn State men's volleyball program in its sweep (25-22, 25-23, 25-21) of Charleston (W.Va.) inside Wehrle Arena on Friday (April 6), as each set was tied in the later stages, before the Nittany Lions found ways to edge past the host Golden Eagles in EIVA action.
Penn State (13-9, 8-3 EIVA) never led by more than four points on the night, as Charleston (W.Va.) (12-9, 3-8 EIVA) kept finding ways to keep the match close, despite the Nittany Lions out-hitting the Golden Eagles, .316-.157. Each team posted just 6.5 blocks in the match, but it was the defense for Penn State that kept Charleston (W.Va.) off the scoreboard, as PSU piled up 44 digs.
Redshirt-senior Jalen Penrose (Cambridge, Mass.) carried his momentum from the match at Harvard into Friday's contest, posting a match-high 12 kills to go along with seven digs and three blocks. It was the sixth double-digit kill match of the season for Penrose.
The second Nittany Lion with double-digit kills was redshirt-junior Matthew McLaren (Aurora, Colo.) with 10 successful swings on 24 attempts. Redshirt-senior Aidan Albrecht (Old Bridge, N.J.) returned after a two-match absence to log nine kills, while redshirt-sophomore Jason Donorovich (Lockport, N.Y.) added eight kills.
It was another all-around performance by redshirt-senior Kevin Gear (Rochester, N.Y.), as the middle hitter tied his career-high with six digs, added five kills and piled up five blocks. Gear now has at least one block in 16-straight matches following tonight's five-block effort. It was also his 19th match of the season with multiple blocks.
Filling it at libero against the Golden Eagles was redshirt-junior Lee Smith (Sewickley, Pa.), as he posted a career-best and match-high-tying 14 digs.
In a match that was played within four points the entire way, the three sets saw only 18 ties and six lead changes, with the bulk of those coming in set three (eight ties, three lead changes). Penn State hit .250 or better in each set, including .355 in both the first and third sets, while Charleston (W.Va.) hit .250 in the opening set before compiling efficiencies of .143 in set two and .091 in set three.
No Golden Eagle attacker had more than five kills, as Max Senica, Eugene Stuart and Brandon Greenway all contribute five successful swings. Libero Darrin Depellegrini tied Smith for match high with 14 digs and Anthony Rivera had three kills and four blocks on the night.
- MB Jalen Penrose -- Posted his sixth double-digit kill match with a team-best 12 kills. Added seven digs and three total blocks.
- OH Matthew McLaren -- Contributed 10 kills and four digs.
- OH Aidan Albrecht -- Contributed nine kills after missing the last two matches. Added two aces and two blocks.
- MB Kevin Gear -- Collected five kills, five blocks and tied a career high with six digs.
- S Luke Braswell -- Handed out 41 assists, added two kills and eight digs.
- L Lee Smith -- Posted a career-high 14 digs, stepping in at libero for Penn State.
- Hot Hitting -- Penn State improved to 10-1 when hitting .300 or better, as the Nittany Lions posted a .316 clip with 46 kills on 98 swings (15 errors).
- Strong D -- Penn State limited Charleston (W.Va.) to a .157 hitting percentage, as the Golden Eagles had 25 kills on 89 swings with 11 errors. Penn State piled up 44 digs and 6.5 blocks on the night.
- OH Max Senica -- Had five kills, six digs and two blocks.
- MB Eugene Stuart -- Collected five kills on six errorless swings for a .833 attacking percentage. Added five digs.
- OH Brandon Greenway -- Posted five kills and five digs.
- L Darrin DePellegrini -- Notched a match-high-tying 14 digs.
Charleston (W.Va.) took an early 3-1 lead before Penn State reeled off five-straight points to grab the early momentum. The match featured only two ties and one lead change, the lead change coming after the match was knotted 3-3 before a McLaren kill that came during the aforementioned 5-0 spurt that built PSU an early 6-3 advantage. The next tie didn't come until 17-17, when UC ticked off three-straight points via kill, ace and Penn State attacking error. Penrose wouldn't let the Eagles rally easily, as he posted three-straight kills and forced a Charleston (W.Va.) timeout. After the two teams traded two-point runs, Penn State was able to exchange side-out points over the final five points to take the opening set. Penrose had six kills, while Gear added four in the opening set.
Penn State 25, Charleston (W.Va.) 22
Penn State leads 1-0
The second set featured eight ties, but only two lead changes, as Penn State scored the first point, but Charleston held the side out advantage in the early going after a service error and service ace gave them an early 2-1 edge. After the Golden Eagles built a three-point cushion, 15-12, head coach Mark Pavlik called a timeout and the Nittany Lion were able to right the ship. After an attacking error gave PSU the serve back, a block from Penrose and Donorovich was followed by kills from McLaren and Penrose gave Penn State's the lead back. Penn State didn't enjoy much of a cushion the rest of the way, as it built a three-point lead, 21-18, but Charleston (W.Va.) hung around before eventually dropping the set on Donorovich's fourth kill of the set.
Penn State 25, Charleston (W.Va.) 25-23
Penn State leads 2-0
Much like the second set, it was an early lead change, this time for Penn State, followed by a bevy of ties in the middle points, before the Nittany Lions were able to gain an advantage. After Penn State built its largest lead of the match, 18-14, Charleston soared back with six of the next eight points -- four coming on Penn State errors -- to knot the match at 20. After trading kills to make it 21-all, A service error was followed by kill from Penrose, an Albrecht/Gear block and Albrecht's fifth kill of the set gave Penn State its seventh straight-set win of the season.
Penn State 25, Charleston (W.Va.) 21
Penn State wins 3-0
Penn State will close out its four-match road trip with a matchup against EIVA-leading George Mason (15-10, 11-0 EIVA) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 7.