Penn State Tops Erskine in Straight Sets
Coming off a 3-1 victory against No. 14 Ohio State, the No. 12 Penn State men’s volleyball team defeated Erskine in a non-conference matchup on Friday evening, in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions (7-2) swept the Flying Fleet (3-3) in straight sets (25-14, 23-25, 23-25) for their seventh consecutive victory.
Junior Aaron Russell registered a team-high 13 kills on .667 hitting, followed by redshirt junior Nick Goodell, with 10 on .429 hitting.
Also aiding in the victory, sophomore Zack Parik had a career-high 22 assists, along with redshirt junior Connor Curry leading the defense with a team-high six blocks.
Penn State never gave up the lead throughout the first set, starting off comfortably, with a score of 6-1. Erskine was able to lessen the deficit to three, after a 3-1 run to make the score 7-4. A 5-1 run by Penn State followed and later transformed into to the largest lead of the set by the Nittany Lions with a score of 18-9. A kill from redshirt freshman Matt Callaway closed out the first frame for Penn State, 25-14.
Erskine head coach Derek Schmitt felt that his team took a little while to get adjusted to the level of play during the first set.
“We definitely did not pass very well that first set and that just killed us because we couldn’t make anything happen offensively,” Schmitt said.
A service ace from Erskine started the second set followed by a block to give the Flying Fleet a 2-0 lead. The ace was one of seven for the Flying Fleet, topping the Nittany Lions in that aspect who only had three this game.
Penn State did not start off nearly as dominant as they had in the previous set, with ties and lead changes throughout the first half of the second set.
Part of the Nittany Lions’ struggle stemmed from service errors, as well as miscommunication from the team members. Neither team could manage to hold the lead in the messy second set, until two consecutive kills from Aaron Russell and Goodell put the Lions up 11-9. This,
however, was followed by two errors from Penn State, tying it up at 11- all.
The Flying Fleet were up by 16-14 after a 3-0 streak, but the Nittany Lions answered with a 3-1 run that tied the set at 17.
Erskine called the first timeout of the set, after a kill by Goodell gave Penn State a 23-22 advantage. A kill from Peter Russell and an Erskine error locked up the 25-23 win for Penn State in set two.
Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said that this Erskine team was unlike any other they’ve seen this season and that his team had to adjust to the game that was being played. He also discussed the serving aspect on both sides of the net.
“The pace that they serve with is a little bit slower than we’re used to...I think our serving did the job we wanted it to do I think their serving enabled them to stay close in games two and three,” Pavlik remarked.
Penn State came out strong with a 4-1 run to open the third set. A huge kill from Kyle Gregan, who also had a career-high two blocks, gave the Nittany Lions an 8-5 lead. A service ace from Erskine allowed them to close the lead to 11-10 and later was able to grab its first lead of the third set with a score of 14-13.
The two teams then looked similar to how they played in the second set with another slue of ties and lead changes. Penn State called a timeout after a 3-0 run from the Flying Fleet, leading 18-16.
Corey Marks of Erskine had a tricky tip that was untouched by any Lion, allowing a 20-17 lead. Penn State forced Erskine to call a timeout when they managed to tie up the set at 21.
A huge block by Spencer Sauter and Kyle Gregan led the set to game point, as Erskine used their final timeout. Nick Goodell closed out the third set with a service ace, sweeping the Flying Fleet after playing them for the first time in Penn State history.
Nicole Barros is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.