Nittany Lions Cruise by Harvard
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jalen Penrose’s energy off of the bench helped propel the Penn State Nittany Lions (17-8, 10-1 EIVA) past the Harvard Crimson for a share of the EIVA regular season title.
“All in all, not a bad workman like effort. Hopefully we can come back and be a little bit better tomorrow,” said Coach Mark Pavlik on his team’s performance.
The Harvard Crimson (11-9, 7-4) got out to an early lead thanks in part to mistakes by the Nittany Lions (17-8, 10-1). Nothing could go their way, with a host of players being called for net violations, attack, and service errors.
But as the first set went on, the teams found themselves more even. Errors mounted for both teams, but both sides found a rhythm with very different tactics. The Nittany Lions employed strong net play and powerful serves, which resulted in numerous blocks and aces. The Crimson went with finesse ball and focused on placement rather than power.
As the first set ended, however, Penn State’s power became too much for Harvard to handle. Chris Nugent and Matt Seifert had critical kills late that allowed for the 25-23 first set victory. Seifert was the clear leader until the late emergence of Nugent on the final two points, with him tallying five total kills first set.
With both teams getting five service errors to start the match, the focus in the second set had to have been to clean up the serve. But once the second set got underway, much of the same occurred. When Harvard head coach Brian Baise called a timeout with the score 9-7, both teams had already mounted at least for service errors each. But Coach Pavlik stated postgame that he was okay not upset with the way his team served following the first set.
“I am okay with them missing serves when we have a good toss and a good contact,” said Coach Pavlik.
By the time the score hit 12-11, Pavlik saw it time to make a change bringing in the sophomore Jalen Penrose for the struggling Aidan Albrecht. And much like many of the other matches Penrose has come into, he made an immediate impact. The first set he received was a kill and brought a new energy onto the court.
“Just knowing that we have someone his stature, his athletic ability on that pin, definitely makes me more comfortable,” said Seifert on what Penrose added to the team as a sub.
After Penrose sparked the team, they never looked back. The service specialist Andrew Roberts fed off the emotion, coming in and obtaining two aces and several timely serves for his team. Those aces forced Harvard into a timeout with the score sitting at 23-17, eventually ending in a Penn State 25-18 second set victory.
With the first two sets in hand, the Nittany Lions were determined to put away Harvard quickly. The team jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead with several players being contributors.
Harvard refused to die, though. Penn State took their foot off the gas a bit as Harvard put their foot through the floor, with strong hitting across the board in the third set. That mentality from the Crimson brought the match within three at one point.
Serving continued to plague the Crimson though and the free opportunities for Penn State would add up. Penrose, Seifert and Nugent would share the kills and open back up a huge lead that would be maintained to the end with the Nittany Lions coming away with a 25-17 third set win and the sweep.
Nugent and Seifert led the way in hitting with nine and 10 kills respectively. But with 15 service errors, the Nittany Lions still have room to improve as the season winds down. And that season continues Saturday night against Sacred Heart, with the team having yet another chance to clinch the EIVA regular season title outright.
David Arroyo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.