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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Postseason volleyball has arrived and the Penn State men’s volleyball program will head to Fairfax, Va. as the No. 2 seed in the EIVA Championships and face No. 3 seed Harvard in the semifinals on Thursday (April 19) inside the Recreation Athletic Center on the campus of George Mason University.
Fans can follow along with each match on Twitter and Instagram (@PennStateMVball) or click on the links for live stats and live video on the right sidebar.
// The trio of Kevin Gear, Matthew McLaren and Calvin Mende claimed All-EIVA honors from the conference office, with Mende earning his second-straight selection to the first team. MORE ON PAGE 3 & 7
// The Nittany Lions their 42nd all-time appearance in the EIVA Tournament looking for its 33rd title. Penn State advanced to the Championship Match on 37 occasions, missing only in 1977, 78, 98 and 2016. MORE ON PAGE 2
// Penn State's 13 service aces at George Mason equaled its season high and are the second most in a five-set match since 2001 in NCAA history. MORE ON PAGE 4, 8 & 9
// The Nittany Lions have done some shuffling in the starting lineup this season, using 10 different combinations in 25 matches this season. MORE ON PAGE 5
More information on Penn State can be found in the complete match notes packet by clicking here.
Quick Notes: EIVA Tournament
// Penn State will play in its 42nd-straight EIVA Tournament this weekend in Fairfax, Va., as the Nittany Lions have appeared in ever conference postseason since becoming a varsity sport in 1977, owning a record of 96-14 in those matches, including 32 EIVA Tournament championships.
// This will be the sixth time that the EIVA Tournament has been hosted by George Mason and the first since 1994. The EIVA championship was also handed out in Fairfax, Va. in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1990.
// Of the first five postseason trips to Fairfax, Va., Penn State has won three titles (1984, 86 & 94), while finishing runner-up twice (1988 & 90). Overall, the Nittany Lions are 8-3 in postseason matches with George Mason as the host.
// Penn State has failed to reach the Championship Match on just four occasions, bowing out early in 1977 and 1978 and falling in the semifinals of both the 1998 event via loss to Princeton (3-0) and the 2016 event with a loss to Saint Francis (Pa.) (3-2). EIVA Tournament History on Pages 2-3
Quick Notes: Harvard
// Harvard split a pair of meeting with Penn State this season, falling in three sets on Feb. 17 in University Park, Pa. and winning a five-setter in Cambridge, Mass. on March 31.
// The Crimson are led by first-team All-EIVA performers Brad Gretsch and Marko Kostich, as the outside hitter duo combine for 5.0 kills per set, 3.2 digs per set and 1.0 block per set.
// Gretsch paces the squad with 3.9 points per set and 3.50 kills per set, while attacking at .317 clip. He has appeared in just 16 of Harvard's 24 matches, yet leads the team with 217 kills.
// Kostich is one of two setters in the Crimson's 6-2 system, as he leads the team with 5.22 assists per set and is No. 2 on the squad with 94 kills (1.49 kps). His 150 digs on the season (1.60 dps) are No. 3 on the squad, as well.
// Penn State is 3-0 all-time against Harvard in the EIVA Tournament, with the two programs last meeting in the 2013 Championship Match.
Series history and team comparison on Page 5
Last Time Out: at Harvard 3, Penn State 2 (3/31/18)
Despite playing without one starter and losing another due to injury during the match, the Penn State men's volleyball team rallied from a two-set deficit to force a decisive fifth set before falling, 3-2, at Harvard (13-25, 30-32, 27-25, 25-16, 12-15) inside the Malkin Athletic Center on Saturday (March 31).
With starting setter Luke Braswell missing the match due to illness, Penn State couldn't find a rhythm early on, dropping the first set, 25-13, before rebounding and pushing the second set to 30 points, eventually falling, 32-30.
Down two sets, Penn State trailed by one, 12-11, when outside hitter Calvin Mende went to the ground and eventually left the game due to injury.
However, with its back against the wall, Penn State rallied to win the third set, 27-25, and then rode the serving of Jalen Penrose and offense of Frank Melvin and Kyle Mackiewicz to cruise to a 25-16 fourth set victory.
However, errors were the undoing in the fifth set, with Penn State dropping a 15-12 decision. The Nittany Lions had two hitting errors, five service errors and one blocking error in the decisive set.
Individually, there were many bright spots on the court, including a record-setting homecoming for Penrose. The redshirt-senior tied the school record for service aces in a match with nine, equaling the mark of John Wasielewski from 1990, and his nine aces are tied for the most in a single match this season in the NCAA. The Cambridge, Mass. native added six kills, two digs and two block assists on the night, as well.
Kevin Gear took 17 swings in the match, converting 10 of those, committing zero hitting errors. His six digs surpassed his five digs, which he had done three times, most recently on Friday (March 30) at Sacred Heart.
Melvin found a groove after Mende's exit, posting all 10 of his kills over the final three sets. His 10-kill effort was the first double-digit kill match of his career, as he entered the night with four career kills.
Matthew McLaren added 10 kills for his 11th double-digit effort of the season, adding eight digs, two service aces and one block assists. Mende posted 15 kills prior to leaving the match in the third set.