Men’s Volleyball Cruises Past NJIT

Story posted April 20, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Tim Behan

After cruising by Rutgers-Newark on Friday night, the Penn State men’s volleyball team (21-7, 13-1 EIVA) finished off its regular season with a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-20, 25-17) of the NJIT Highlanders (7-21, 4-10 EIVA) at Rec Hall on Saturday evening. The Nittany Lions controlled the match from the start to cruise into the postseason after winning both weekend matches.  

Coach Mark Pavlik feared coming into this weekend that his team would not get better. They proved him wrong winning both matches in convincing fashion.

“We played so work-man like, and it didn’t matter what the score was,” Pavlik said after the game.

On the final weekend of the season, the Nittany Lions played their last two home games in a different gym than usual; the South Gym of Rec Hall due to the men’s gymnastics tournament in the main gym. As was the case on Friday night, Penn State outmatched its opponents in size and created mismatches all around the court in its favor.

Penn State jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the first set and never gave up the lead throughout the frame.  Taylor Hammond helped out with 13 assists in the set, while Nick Goodell and Aaron Russell both hit perfect percentages and had two and three kills respectively. NJIT could not find a way to stay close in the set, which made coach Ryan McNeil visibly frustrated at times, especially at his team's execution.

“My frustration comes from when we execute things in practice, but cannot translate it to the game,” McNeil said.

McNeil’s Highlanders improved in the second set and kept it close as Penn State held leads of 5-3 and 10-6. The set remained close until the end and NJIT even came within two points late at 21-19. As shown all night, Aaron Russell’s presence at the net was very effective, registering nine kills on 18 attempts. Nick Goodell continued his stellar play with seven kills of his own. Taylor Hammond was also very active in the second set with 27 assists.

In the third set Aaron Russell continued his dominance with a couple of big kills to get the Nittany Lions rolling. Penn State exemplified its depth as many players put up big numbers in the third set. NJIT fought back the entire night, but Penn State would not break as they kept the Highlanders at bay by seizing their opportunities.

The Nittany Lions were led by Peter Russell and sophomore Aaron Russell as they each tallied 11 kills. Redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell also added nine kills. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond paced the offense with 35 assists, while Aaron Russell led the back row with 13 digs.

Penn State begins the postseason with the EIVA tournament, as they take on Princeton Thursday night.

Tim Behan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ttb5068@psu.edu.