MVB: Penn State Clinches Conference In Sweep
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s volleyball team locked up the EIVA championship in style and then completed their regular season with an emphatic four set win over the George Mason Patriots on Friday and Saturday.
Penn State came in to the weekend needing just a single win to lock up the EIVA regular season championship and they got that on Friday night against Charleston (WV). Aiden Albrecht led the way with 11 kills in the match to solidify Penn State’s home court advantage throughout the EIVA postseason.
“That was a big win for us, especially to get it done on Friday,” head coach Mark Pavlik said. “It will be nice to play in front of our home crowd in some big matches next weekend.”
The Nittany Lions were ousted from the playoffs last season by the St. Francis Red Flash, but have put themselves in a great position to get back to their winning ways in the postseason. The Charleston match was also a chance for Penn State to showcase some depth off the bench. Jason Donorovich was tremendous with five kills in eight attempts and he didn’t record an error.
“It was nice to get in to the match and put some good swings on the ball,” Donorovich said. “I thought we played well as a team tonight and I was happy to step on the court and get some swings in.”
On Saturday, the Nittany Lions were tested a little more than Friday. George Mason, whose fate was already sealed before the match started, certainly came out of the gates like they had something to play for. Jack Wilson and Radoslov Popov each recorded five kills in the first set and Mason had Penn State noticeably on their heels. However, on senior night it was actually the underclassmen who stepped up. Luke Braswell dished out 44 assists and had 11 digs and two blocks, while Calvin Mende led all hitters with 24 kills.
“Early on I didn’t really know I was in a rhythm,” Mende said. “By set two I felt like I had something and we just all wanted to go out and win one for our seniors tonight. They always have a great presence on the court and that always helps when the match isn’t going our way.”
Penn State turned it around in sets two through four and won the match 3-1. The Nittany Lions finish the year with an 18-10 mark, while sporting an 11-3 record in the EIVA. Penn State will host Princeton, whom they have beaten twice in five sets, in the first round of the EIVA tournament on Thursday.
“This is what we worked for all season long,” Chris Nugent said. “That was step one, now step two is winning the EIVA and giving ourselves a shot in the NCAA tournament.”
Jack Milewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.