Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps St. Francis At Rec Hall

Story posted March 19, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Parker Silverman

UNIVERSITY PARK Pa. – Penn State men’s volleyball took down Saint Francis at Rec Hall Saturday, completing the match sweep 3-0.

The Nittany Lions entered the match 17-2 overall, and ranked second in the nation. Penn State had won 11 of its last 12 matches.

On the other hand, Saint Francis came in 7-10 overall, but riding high on a three game win streak. The Red Flash fell to Penn State on home court earlier this season, taking the blue and white to five sets.

Both teams were coming in off extended road trips — Saint Francis playing multiple matches in North Carolina, and Penn State coming off a three-match affair in Hawaii.

Penn State was eager to be home again, as its last home game was all the way back on Feb. 18, where the Nittany Lions defeated the Princeton Tigers 3-0.

“I think you saw two teams that are trying to get rid of the residue of Spring Break trips,” Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said.

Penn State’s rust looked apparent in the first set, as the Nittany Lions fell behind to Saint Francis 8-4. The blue and white committed more service errors in the first set than they did in the second and third sets combined, a true testament to how difficult the turnaround was.

Penn State had prior experience versus the Red Flash this season, as Saint Francis took the Nittany Lions to five sets earlier this year.

“We knew Saint Francis was going to be scrappy and not let us go if we aided them. I think in the first game we had upwards of eight errors that kind of kept them around. But in the end, the serving run by Fish allowed us to tie it up,” coach Pavlik said.

Pavlik is alluding to the resounding comeback that his team displayed in the first set, coming back from 17-12 down to close it out 27-25. That was due to the outstanding play of senior Cal Fisher, who led the team with 11 kills and 25 total attacks.

When asked about the quick turnaround his men made, Pavlik said it was really quite simple. “If we pass the ball, if we set the ball, if we hit the ball, our physicality should come through.”

The Nittany Lions did just that, notching eight more digs than Saint Francis and out-blocking them too. Penn State turned up the intensity in the second and third set, notching 4-0 and 7-1 runs.

Penn State became more dominant as the match went on, showcasing the abilities of both senior Cal Fisher and junior Toby Ezeonu. Ezeonu, the 6-foot-7 standout from North Brunswick, New Jersey, led the team with three aces.

On the other bench was an enthusiastic Red Flash team, despite the loss. One player in particular, middle blocker Thomas Leahey, talked about what it meant to him to play in Rec Hall as a State College native.

“I grew up playing here as a little kid. Coming back here and playing with the guys, it’s just amazing. I’ve walked these halls for however many years, it’s like homecoming,” Leahey said.

All in all, Saint Francis’ three-set defeat was nothing to be upset about. Penn State rallied back in the first set, and closed it out in three — but this match was far more competitive than the box score shows.

Penn State will look to continue its home court dominance next time out, as the Nittany Lions take on the Ohio State Buckeyes while Saint Francis hits the road to take on D’Youville University.

Parker Silverman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email