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April 11, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 12 Penn State men's volleyball team (19-6, 10-1) hits the road this weekend, looking to secure a first-place finish in the EIVA, traveling to Saint Francis (10-13, 5-6) for a midday matchup Saturday, April 12. The Nittany Lions and the Red Flash square off at 2 p.m. in Degol Arena.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
A win against the Red Flash this weekend would position Penn State as the No. 1 overall seed heading into the EIVA tournament. With the top seed, the Nittany Lions would earn the right to host the event on their home court in Rec Hall. Penn State has captured the last 14 consecutive EIVA crowns, while totaling 24 overall conference titles in program history.
The Nittany lions picked up a pair of critical victories on the road last weekend to remain atop the conference standings. Penn State opened the weekend with a straight-set victory against the Crimson before sweeping the Pioneers to move to 19-6 overall and 10-1 in the EIVA.
NITTANY LIONS IN THE AVCA COACHES POLL - WEEK 14 UPDATE
Following two straight set wins last weekend, PSU is in sole possession of the No. 12 spot in the latest AVCA DI-II Top 15 poll after tying for 12th last week. Penn State was 13th two weeks ago, having spent two weeks at No. 14. Four weeks ago, PSU moved back to No. 12 after spending one week at No. 10. Prior to the No. 10 positioning, the Lions were slated No. 12 for six consecutive weeks.
STATE VS. SAINT FRANCIS - LAST TIME OUT
The Nittany Lions stretched their winning streak to 33-0 all-time with a 3-1 win against the Red Flash in early February. Senior Peter Russell, junior Aaron Russell and redshirt junior Nick Goodell all recorded double-digit kills in the victory, led by a double-double from Aaron (16 k, 11d). Defensively, redshirt freshman Matt Callaway and sophomore Taylor Hammond anchored the blocking unit with four blocks each.
RUSSELL EARNS EIVA OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS
After helping the team to a 2-0 weekend on the road, senior Peter Russell has earned his first conference honor of the 2014 season, as he has been selected as the EIVA Offensive Player of the Week.
Russell recorded back-to-back double-digit kill performances in a pair of important road matches last weekend. Against No. 15 Harvard, he finished second on the squad with 14 kills and four digs before posting 10 kills and six digs at Sacred Heart. He concluded the week with a team-high .373 hitting clip, while also ranking second on the squad with 4.00 kills per set.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following two wins against Princeton and George Mason March 28-29, the Nittany Lions moved to 13-0 on the year at Rec Hall, marking their first undefeated home season since 2012. PSU has been unbeaten at home in four of the last seven years, including consecutive unblemished home slates in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Addition¬ally, Penn State has surrendered just four matches to an opponent at home in the seven-year span.
AMONG THE BEST SERVERS IN THE NATION
Junior Aaron Russell continues to impress from the service line, as his 0.60 aces per frame currently ranks second nationally. His team-high mark also leads the conference. In 2013, Russell tallied 40 aces on the year, which ranks 10th all-time on the single-season record list. With 51 aces on the year, he's set a new single-season personal best. His 51 aces this year is tied for third-most all-time on the single sea¬son list. On the career all-time list, his 116 aces surpassed Matt Proper (2003-06) for sole possession of fourth all-time.
A CLEAN SWEEP
Penn State has earned 14 of its victories in straight-sets this season, putting together a 14-1 record in three-set matches. Penn State swept six consecutive opponents from February 7 to February 22 to add to the mark. In 2013, the Nittany Lions recorded 15 3-0 wins.
Penn State will close out its regular season slate with a pair of EIVA conference matches. The Nittany Lions travel to Rutgers-Newark for a 7 p.m. tilt Friday, April 18 before heading to NJIT for a 3 p.m. contest Saturday, April 19.