Jan. 8, 2014
Weekend Match Notes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
No. 11 Penn State men's volleyball is set to kick off the 2014 campaign this weekend, traveling to Hawaii to compete in the Outrigger Volleyball Invitational. Widely known as one of the most competitive season-opening events, the Nittany Lions will square off against No. 7 UCLA (0-1) Thursday, Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. ET, before taking on tournament host No. 14 Hawaii (0-0) January 11 at 12 a.m. ET and No. 12 Ohio State (0-0) at 9 p.m. ET.
Fans can catch a live audio stream of the matchup against Hawaii courtesy of the Rainbow Wahine at www.espn1420am.com. Live stats for all Penn State matches will be provided here.
The Nittany Lions will make their 19th appearance in the Outrigger Invitational. Since 2008, the Nittany Lions have complied a 12-3 mark in the event, winning the tournament title in 2008 and 2009. Penn State has also squared off against the same three opponents five times in Outrigger Invitational history. Other than Hawaii, Penn State is the most frequent team to travel to Honolulu, having played in 19-of-20 Outrigger events.
LOOKING BACK AT 2013
Head coach Mark Pavlik returns to lead the Penn State men's volleyball team in his 20th season at the helm of the program. The Nittany Lions went 23-8 in 2013, picking up their 25th overall and 15th straight EIVA title. After racing through the EIVA Championship and claiming another title, PSU headed to Los Angeles for their 29th overall appearance in the NCAA national semifinals. Despite a team-high 13 kills from Uvaldo Acosta EIVA Memorial Co-Player of the Year, Aaron Russell, the Nittany Lions fell short in a 3-0 loss to BYU to end the season.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NITTANY LIONS
The defending EIVA champion Nittany Lions return a core group of 11 letterwinners and five starters this year, while welcoming five freshmen to the roster. The new additions include 6-8 opposite Aiden Albrecht from Old Bridge, N.J., Joey Farrell, a 6-5 outside from Lombard, Ill., Kevin Gear, a 6-7 middle blocker from Rochester, N.Y., Chris Nugent, a 6-4 outside from Fair Lawn, N.J., and Jalen Penrose, a 6-7 outside from Cambridge, Mass.
Peter and Aaron Russell are two top attackers returning in 2014, as the duo combined for a hefty amount of offensive production last year. Led by Aaron, who closed out 2013 averaging 3.59 kills per set, Peter followed closely behind, with 2.77 per frame. Returning redshirt sophomore Matt Seifert led the blocking unit during the 2013 season, registering 77 total blocks, including 10 solo blocks. Seifert and starting libero Connor Curry have both been voted as 2014 team captains.
PENN STATE vs. UCLA
The Nittany Lions are 6-27 all-time against the Bruins, having matched up against UCLA in two of the last three PSU season-openers. Penn State dropped a four-set contest in 2011 before falling in a close five-setter at the start of the 2013 season.
No. 7 UCLA dropped to 0-1 on the year after losing to then-No. 5 Stanford in four sets during the first weekend of action. Rookie Mitch Stahl and standout returner Gonzalo Quiroga both contributed double-digit kills, led by 14 from Quiroga. Overall, UCLA returns nine letterwinners in 2014, including four starters. Highlighting the group is Quiroga, an AVCA first team All-American outside hitter, as well as senior opposite Spencer Rowe, who was a second team selection.
PENN STATE vs. HAWAII
PSU is 8-12 in the all-time series against the Rainbow Wahine, having claimed wins in the last five consecutive outings in Honolulu. In the most recent meeting between the two teams, the Nittany Lions captured a close five-set victory in the second day of the 2013 Outrigger Invitational.
Ranked No. 14 in the latest AVCA Coaches' Poll, Hawaii unofficially opened the 2014 slate last weekend with a pair of exhibition matches against the Thompson Rivers of Canada, which competes in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport's Canada West conference. Looking closer, the Rainbow Wahine return five starters and 10 letterwinners to the court in 2014. Pacing the group are key returners, Brook Sedore, Sinisa Zarkovic, Taylor Averill, Davis Holt and Nick West, along with starting setter Joby Ramos.
PENN STATE vs. OHIO STATE
The Nittany Lions own a 68-27 record in the all-time series against Ohio State, who is one of Penn State's oldest rivals. The Nittany Lions have secured wins in the last five consecutive Outrigger Invitational matchups involving the Buckeyes. Penn State has not lost to the Buckeyes in the event since 2006.
Ranked No. 12 in the newest version of the AVCA Coaches' Poll, Ohio State will officially begin the 2014 season with a match against tournament host, Hawaii in their first match of the Outrigger Invitational. The Buckeyes return just three starters from a 2013 squad that finished 19-8 overall. Michael Henchy is at the helm of the returning trio, which consists of opposite Andrew Lutz and setter Peter Heinen. Henchy earned All-MIVA first team honors in 2013, while Lutz was a second team honoree.
Penn State returns home from the Aloha State to kick off the home portion of the 2014 slate. The Nittany Lions welcome Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and Ball State to the court in Rec Hall for matches Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. Fans will also recognize some familiar faces in the crowd as PSU will host its annual alumni day on Saturday.