No. 12 Men's Volleyball Clinches EIVA Regular Season Title
April 12, 2014
LORETTO, Pa. - The No. 12 Penn State men's volleyball team (20-16, 11-1) pushed past Saint Francis (10-14, 5-7) in four sets (25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17) Saturday afternoon to clinch its 30th EIVA/ECVL regular season title in program history.
The victory also marks the 19th time that head coach Mark Pavlik has led the Nittany Lions to a regular season crown. With the win, the Nittany Lions have earned the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming EIVA Tournament. The top ranking also gives Penn State home court advantage as it has also earned the right to host the event in Rec Hall April 24-26.
Redshirt junior Nick Goodell powered the Nittany Lion offense with 20 kills, marking his third 20-kill performance of the season. Junior Aaron Russell tallied 17 kills on .444 hitting, adding a career-high seven aces to go along with nine digs and one block. Senior Peter Russell rounded out the group of double-digit hitters with 13 kills, adding eight digs and one block.
Redshirt sophomore Taylor Hammond paced the team to a .388 hitting clip, dishing out a season-high 54 assists.
Penn State opened the match with a 6-3 stretch to take control of an early lead. A service error interrupted the momentum before PSU used an 8-2 run to bolster the lead to eight, 14-6. Rebounding, the Red Flash answered with a 5-1 streak to narrow the gap to five, 15-10.
Back-to-back kills from Aaron and Peter and an ace from Goodell pushed the Nittany Lions back up by eight, 18-10, before Saint Francis connected on two consecutive kills to make it 18-12. Penn State responded with a 5-3 run to arrive just one point shy of set point, 23-15.
Looking to spark a run, the Red Flash used a 3-0 spurt to jump within five, 23-18, but Peter pounded a kill to make it set point, 24-18. A service error held off the attempt, but Peter answered once more with a kill to secure a 25-19 win in the first set.
Penn State and Saint Francis battled back and forth early in the second stanza before the Red Flash used a kill and an ace to crack open a 6-all tie and go up by two, 8-6. As the Nittany Lions struggled to settle into an offensive rhythm, Saint Francis built its lead to as high as five, 16-11, helped out by an 8-5 stretch.
Rallying, the Nittany Lions constructed a 6-2 run to trim the deficit to one, 18-17, forcing the Red Flash to call a timeout. Aaron came out of the break with a kill to knot the frame, 18-18, but a Saint Francis kill kept the Red Flash in front, 19-18. Penn State quickly answered with a 3-0 strike to take over a slim two-point advantage, 21-19, but two SFU kills and a PSU error put the Red Flash back on top, 22-21, causing the Nittany Lions to take a timeout.
Two kills from Saint Francis out of the break lifted the Red Flash to set point, 24-22, but a bad set gave Penn State one more opportunity to mount a comeback, 24-23. A service error thwarted the attempt as the Red Flash claimed a 25-23 win in the second set to even the match, 1-1.
The Nittany Lions shot out to a 7-3 advantage in the third set before Saint Francis responded with a 4-1 strike to move within one, 8-7. Penn State recovered with a 5-2 run, capped off by back-to-back kills from Goodell to extend the lead to four, forcing the Red Flash to call a timeout. Saint Francis answered with a 3-1 run out of the break to cut the Nittany Lions' lead in half, 14-12, but a kills from Peter and redshirt freshman Matt Callaway and an SFU attack error kept PSU ahead, 17-12.
The Red Flash attempted to spark a run with a kill, 17-13, but Penn State took off on a 5-1 streak, featuring a pair of kills from both Aaron and Goodell to go up by eight, 22-14. Saint Francis cut off the momentum with a kill, 22-15, but Penn State tallied the next three points to lock up a 25-15 win in the third set.
Trailing by one, 6-5, in set four, Penn State scored five unanswered points to take control of a four-point advantage, 10-6. The Red Flash regrouped with a 3-0 strike come within one, 10-9, but a kill from Aaron and a SFU error kept Penn State ahead, 12-9. Saint Francis responded with a kill and a block to jump within one again, 12-11, but the Nittany Lions used a 5-1 run to maintain a comfortable cushion, 17-12.
A service error broke up the offensive rhythm, but Penn State used a 5-2 streak to march toward match point, 22-15. The Red Flash looked to halt the momentum with a kill, 22-16, but the Nittany Lions rolled to 25-17 win in the fourth set with kills from Aaron, Seifert and Peter.
Next up, Penn State hits the road for its final two matches of the regular season. The Nittany Lions travel to NJIT Friday, April 12 before visiting Rutgers Newark Saturday, April 13 for the regular season finale.