Penn State Cruises Past Harvard
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA—No. 9 Penn State started slowly in the first set, but picked up the pace and rolled in the next two sets on its way to a 3-0 victory over the Harvard Crimson.
The first set was the worst of the day for the Nittany Lions. As a team, they hit just .189 and it took everything they had to take the first set of extras.
Trevor Dow had two blocks early on in the first for Harvard and helped them settle in, keep it close and eventually earn a set point, but the Crimson could not capitalize.
Penn State was able to outlast the Crimson in the first and escape with a 28-26 victory on a Luke Braswell ace that clipped the net and eluded all six Harvard players.
Braswell said, “I thought I hit it a lot harder than that. I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere near the tape” and “It fell over and I was like, alright cool. I’ll take it.”
The second set was a different story as Penn State improved their play drastically, putting together their best set of the match, hitting .409 as a team. However, the real story of the second set was the Penn State defense.
Coach Mark Pavlik attributed their success against Harvard’s serve to his own team’s service game.
“It’s like getting beat by a baseball bat,” said Pavlik, “I thought we did a real nice job with complementary volleyball. Good serving begets good blocking begets good defense begets good offense and I think we did a real nice job of that today.”
The Nittany Lions were able to earn a sideout 93 percent of the time in the second set. They were 14 of 15 against the Harvard serve and that catapulted them to a dominating 25-14 win in a set that Penn State led from the beginning.
Penn State rolled with the momentum they gained in the second set and handled their business in the third. Jalen Penrose took the third set over for the Nittany Lions with 7 kills and a .455 hitting percentage in the final set. Luke Braswell had 10 of his 27 assists in the third set helping Penn State to a 25-18 victory.
Erik Johnsson led the way for Harvard with 11 kills, but hit at a measly .115 mark. After his strong first set, Dow could only muster one more block the rest of the way as Harvard succumbed to Penn State.
With the match being moved to the South Gym at Rec Hall, there was a different kind of atmosphere than last night against Sacred Heart. Penn State took some time to adjust, but found their groove in the second and never looked back.
The Nittany Lions are now 3-0 in EIVA play and will look to maintain that going forward.
When asked how they would build on their strong conference record, Braswell chuckled and said, “Keep winning in three.”
Penn State will look to do just that next weekend when they host George Mason and Charleston. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
Josh Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.