Penn State Men’s Volleyball Takes Down Princeton in Straight Sets
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. –– On a special night where Penn State put its 2021 EIVA title banner in the rafters, the Nittany Lions dominated Princeton in straight sets.
The Nittany Lions opened up EIVA conference play at Rec Hall with a matchup against the Princeton Tigers.
Penn State was motivated by last year’s EIVA title and determined to defend their crown.
“It was great to see it go up,” senior Brett Wildman said.
Wildman credits the seniors of the 2020 season as the motivation for them to come back and win the title.
In the first set, both teams started off slow, but Penn State was able to gain some momentum after winning a challenge call to make the score 8-6 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions were then able to tally four more kills and capped it off with a service ace by Michael Valenzi to force Princeton coach Sam Shweisky to call a timeout with a score of 12-7.
Penn State caught fire after the timeout and extended its lead to 19-12 before another timeout from Princeton.
Strong defense by the Nittany Lions including back-to-back blocks allowed them to capture the first set by a score of 25-18.
Princeton wouldn’t go away easily and in the second set it came out firing with a 5-1 lead. The Tigers continued to use their momentum and force Penn State to take a timeout with a score of 13-9 in the second set.
“We talked about passing,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “When we pass the ball, our offense is as good as anybody in the country.”
Penn State took Pavlik’s advice and tied the set at 18 to force the Tigers to take another timeout.
A crucial service error by Princeton’s Josh Coan allowed the Nittany Lions to take the second set by a score of 25-22.
The Nittany Lions tallied 29 kills to the Tigers’ 19 through the first two sets as Wildman led everyone with nine kills.
Penn State’s student section, labeled the “wRECking Crew,” always shows out to support the team and Friday night was no different.
“It’s always awesome having fans here at Rec Hall,” senior Cal Fisher said. “Especially on a night like this where we get to celebrate our championship from last year, it’s really nice to have them here.”
Fisher would use the crowd’s motivation to find his rhythm and began the third set with two consecutive aces and forced Shweisky to call an early timeout with the Nittany Lions out to a 4-0 lead.
Fisher finished the game with eight kills, two assists, two service aces, four digs and two blocks.
Princeton struggled to find an answer for Penn State’s strong offense and would be forced to call a timeout as they found themselves down 8-1 in the third set.
The Nittany Lions were able to string together a 10-1 scoring run to push their lead to 15-2.
From that point on it was all Penn State as they dominated the third set and ran away with the match winning the final set by a score of 25-7.
The Nittany Lions tallied seven service aces in the match and had a brilliant defensive effort with eight blocks.
Princeton struggled to get anything going in the game and had a hit percentage of just .016 in the match. They also committed 21 attacking errors on the night.
“The EIVA win No. 1 is under our belt, now let’s get ready for Mason,” Pavlik said.
Thomas English is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.