Penn State Men’s Volleyball Weekend Preview: St. Francis/Ohio State
After their road trip to Honolulu for the Outrigger Challenge, Penn State returns home to University Park to face the St. Francis Red Flash on Saturday and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Tuesday.
The Nittany Lions have faced both teams once already which ended up in winning fashion. Surprisingly enough, the Red Flash took the Nittany Lions to set five, while the Buckeyes took them to set four.
Not much has changed all season for this Nittany Lions squad as their starting core has carried the roster to their 17-2 record, and their backups come in and do the job asked of them.
The team’s points leader and middle blocker, Toby Ezeonu has been the focal point of this roster where when he is on, there is no one better in the college landscape. He also ranks second on the team in blocks only to Owen Rose. Like Ezeonu, another junior that has been putting in work for the squad is Michal Kowal, who ranks second on the team in points and kills.
Another major storyline from this roster is the veteran leadership. The three veterans that help lead this roster are Brett Wildman (outside hitter), Cole Bogner (setter) and Cal Fisher (opposite hitter), and they have all been key parts of the Nittany Lions’ success. All three of these players rank in the top 10 in sets played for the Nittany Lions and all bring in different styles and immense athleticism.
When it comes to St. Francis, the Red Flash fought with a lot of grit during their previous match against Penn State taking the first two sets. Even though they ended up getting reverse swept, players such as Blake Liprando and Ryan Parker really showed up. The story of their previous matchup, however, was serving errors as Penn State had 28 which was its second highest on the year and St. Francis had 26 of its own.
Outside hitter, Andrew Deardorff, tallied 10.5 points in that matchup, but would end up leaving with a lower body injury. A player who did not see the court very much in the previous matchup is opposite hitter Nathan Zini who is currently second on the team in points. Zini will likely be a bigger factor in the Red Flash revenge game after they were so close to victory last time around.
Looking at Ohio State, the Buckeyes currently sit at 11-8 at the with one of those losses being to the Nittany Lions.
Jacob Pasteur did what he has been doing all season which was tally points for the Buckeyes in which he had a team leading 13 kills against Penn State and has a team leading 254 kills on the year. Defensively, Samuel Clark led with six digs and Cole Young led with four blocks the last time these two teams met. Young is ranked second on the roster with 47 blocks and Clark also ranks second with 97 digs.
Both teams have the talent on their roster to turn the tides and get their first win against Penn State, but at the same time it’ll be no easy task against the No. 2 team in the nation.
Joey David is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.