No. 5 Nittany Lions Set for First Weekend in Rec Hall
Feb. 3, 2012
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
This weekend, the Lions will be able to do just that.
After three weeks of being on the road to begin its season, Penn State will play host in the fourth week of regular-season as it welcomes Mount Olive and Cal-Baptist inside Rec Hall.
The Lions will square off against the Trojans of Mount Olive on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for their first match of the twin-bill weekend, taking on the Lancers of Cal-Baptist on Saturday at the same time.
This weekend is the first of two back-to-back weeks that the fifth-ranked team will get to perform in front of its home fans on its home court.
So far, Penn State has taken down Loyola, Stanford, Pacific and defending national champion Ohio State. The only loss that the team has recorded during the beginning of this season came in a 3-1 setback to the Flyers of Lewis.
Five matches into the 2012 season, the starting lineup for the Nittany Lions is in no way nailed down for the remainder of the year but has seen an interesting mix of very veteran and very fresh talent.
Three of the six freshmen eligibility athletes on the squad have been seeing considerable playing time as true freshman middle hitter Aaron Russell and redshirt freshman libero Connor Curry and outside hitter Nick Goodell have been top performers for the Lions.
Both Curry and Russell have seen playing time in each of the 18 sets that Penn State has entered. Goodell has been featured in 13 of those 18.
Redshirt seniors and veterans Edgardo Goas and Joe Sunder have also made quite an impact just a hand full of contests into the regular season.
Sunder leads the Lions with an average of 3.61 kills per set and has already delivered 65 individual kills this year, almost doubling the next best mark of Goodell's 37 kills. The returning All-American outside hitter also leads the group with 9 service aces.
Coach Pavlik said that he was particularly impressed at the way that his returning offensive leader is presenting himself not just at the net but also as an all-around threat on the court.
"Joe is becoming so comfortable with his role right now and it's great to see," said Pavlik.
Returning All-American Goas still paces the Nittany Lion offense in a business-as-usual fashion and has already dished up 226 assists this season. The setter is averaging 12.56 assists for every set that he plays.
It comes as no surprise to Pavlik that his two starting seniors are performing as well as they are at this point in the season, but the head coach said that he can see even bigger things happening for the pair this time around.
"Those two guys, that's kind of what we expect of them," said Pavlik. "They're talented enough to be the best in their positions in the country this year."
The Nittany Lions have already seen that they are capable of comeback victories, standout individual performances and key wins over ranked teams. Headed into the weekend at home, Pavlik said that he thinks his team has already shown a greater maturity and a greater sense of fight this season compared to the last.
"They don't seem to get overly amped up and they certainly aren't overly celebratory but the good news to that is they don't become overly despondent either," said Pavlik. "Heads don't drop; they just want to compete and I just think that this team, from what we've seen so far this year, this team is a truly competitive team."