Penn State Split Weekend Series, Move To 14-7
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions men’s volleyball team picked up one win in their two-game weekend series against Lewis and Loyola Chicago. Penn State took the first match on Friday against Lewis in a thrilling five-set match. The following night they were bested by Loyola Chicago in four sets to move their record to 14-7 (7-1 EIVA).
Penn State was led by Aiden Albrecht and Chris Nugent during night one as the duo combined for 33 kills, with Albrecht contributing a match-high 20. Albrecht was fed early and often to compensate for a struggling Nugent, who despite the 13 kills, hit below 10 percent on the night.
“The passing was great all night,” Albrecht said. “I got into a rhythm early and [Taylor] Hammond did a good job of feeding me when I had the opportunity to get some kills.”
Albrecht has been a revelation for the Nittany Lions on the right side as the team has struggled to fill that role all season. Having started in the past five weekend series, it seems that the position is Albrecht’s to lose and Friday he did nothing to change that.
Lewis head coach Dan Friend said it was exactly the type of match that he expected against the Nittany Lions.
“We played them in five sets earlier this year at our place and this match wasn’t that much different,” Friend said. “It is always a tough match and you always have to compete for every point when you are playing Penn State. It’s a good test for us and there are definitely things we can take away from tonight, but in the end we still wanted the win.”
Match two was not a bright spot for Penn State. As the Nittany Lions have done so many times during their streak these past couple of weekends, they came out firing, winning the first set in dominating fashion. However, after the first set, the match completely fell out of Penn State’s hands.
The Nittany Lions were handled by Loyola in the third and fourth sets as the Ramblers ran out to a 17-9 lead in the third set before Penn State closed the gap. Still the efforts were all for naught as the Nittany Lions fell in the third and couldn’t muster the energy to put together and semblance of an effort in the fourth set.
The one bright spot for Penn State on the second night was the upstart play from Jalen Penrose, who entered in the middle of the third set and finished the match with a team high 12 kills. Penrose, who is known for his inconsistency, was incredibly consistent for Penn State and gave the team a chance to win in the final two sets. Ultimately it was the Nittany Lion’s faultiness on the block that led to Loyola’s victory as the team committed five blocking errors.
Penn State will take the court next weekend for two EIVA matchups against Princeton and NJIT. The matches will be the first road games for the Nittany Lions in 12 contests. At 7-1 in the EIVA and with six matches left, the two contests next weekend will be big for Penn State in terms of solidifying their foothold on the top of the EIVA standings.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.