Penn State Sweeps NJIT, Wins Second Straight EIVA Contest
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-6) swept the NJIT Highlanders (6-4) in straight sets on Saturday night in a packed Rec Hall South Gym.
Penn State was coming off an impressive victory in four sets over No. 11 Princeton on Friday, and carried that momentum into its second-consecutive conference tilt against NJIT. Saturday’s match had one major theme to it - runs.
In the first set, Penn State went on multiple runs of three or more points, including a 6-0 run on one occasion. The Nittany Lions got off to a slow start in the first set, but Brett Wildman kept them close. The sophomore led the team with 151 kills entering Saturday, and added five more to his total during Penn State’s first seven points.
Wildman would have his fingerprints all over this one, with a match-high 17 kills, on a season-high .560 hitting percentage, while also adding three digs and a service ace.
“Once we got Brett that ball, it was like, ‘Okay, that’s what we’re talking about,’’ Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “He’s got a live arm.”
Despite his great game, Pavlik would still like to see Wildman be more aggressive.
“He’s gotta swing at more balls… He has to hit us out of trouble,” Pavlik said.
The first set remained relatively close throughout, but Wildman and Henri Falck Lauten made sure it did not get away from Penn State. The duo combined for twelve kills, leading Penn State to a 25-22 win in set one.
Jason Donorovich took over in the second set, doing a little bit of everything. The redshirt senior had three kills, one block, and a service ace. The second set was filled with runs as well. Penn State went on two separate 4-0 runs, but NJIT answered with one of their own. Penn State would eventually take the second set 25-20.
The most important run of the night came during the third set. Penn State led NJIT 15-14 when they put the game out of reach for good after a 4-0 run. The Nittany Lions went on to win the third set 25-20 as well.
Falck Lauten and Wildman wreaked havoc on the Highlanders again in the final set, combining for another 10 kills. Falck Lauten would finish the night with eight kills. Cal Fisher chipped in eight kills of his own for the Nittany Lions.
In a tough night for the Highlanders, Jens Feldthus led the way with 11 kills.
“I think he’s great, I think he did well,” NJIT coach Danny Goncalves said.
With the win, the Nittany Lions took control of the top spot in the EIVA. However, Pavlik is not getting too comfortable.
“I think the message is loud and clear: anybody can beat anybody,” Pavlik said.
Penn State will take the court again next Friday, Feb. 21, when it travels to Fairfield, Conn. to take on Sacred Heart University.
Zech Lambert is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.