Penn State Tops George Mason in Four Sets in Battle Between EIVA Heavyweights
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No. 10 Penn State ended No. 12 George Mason’s six-game win streak at Rec Hall on Friday, winning in four sets after a close first and third set.
The Nittany Lions now improve to 9-2 overall and will take the lead over George Mason for first in the EIVA standings.
Head coach Mark Pavlik adds another win to his historic career at Penn State. He leads all active NCAA men’s volleyball coaches in wins and is now seven shy from getting his 600th career victory.
This game was anticipated to be a close match that would feature back-and-forth play the entire time. Both teams have solid offenses, but this game was more of a defensive battle.
“We like it to be a heavyweight fight; game one and three, it came to that,” Pavlik said. “The biggest thing I was pleased with was our defense. We dug 42 balls in a four-game match.”
Penn State ranks second in the nation in aces and displayed that prowess Friday, recording a team total nine aces. The service pressure from the Nittany Lions caused problems for George Mason since the Patriots like to slow things down and score from longer rallies.
This service style is prone to errors, however; Penn State was fortunate to keep the first set close since it recorded seven service errors. This was a result of the pressure that the Nittany Lions put on George Mason the entire game.
Brett Wildman, who missed the previous two games, led the way for the Nittany Lions in the first set with eight points coming from several strong kills.
“I was happy to be back tonight,” Wildman said. “A little time off allowed me to feel fresh, and it helped contribute to my success.”
Cole Bogner recorded 40 assists for Penn State tonight. As a leader of this team, he explained why the Nittany Lions were able to perform so well.
“George Mason is one of our biggest rivals, so everyone was prepared to play tonight,” said Bogner.
The rest of the game was led by outside hitter Cal Fisher. He ended the game with 19 points: yet again another double-digit game. He’s recorded 10 or more points in each of Penn State’s wins this season.
After a close third set, Fisher energized Penn State in the fourth set, giving the Nittany Lions an early advantage.
“Game three was an emotional game; there was a competitive pressure you have to live through,” Pavlik said. “Fisher goes on the 7-0 run to start us off in the fourth game.”
Penn State dominated the entire fourth set, putting George Mason away for good. This huge win seemed to be fueled in part by some words that were traded from players on the Patriots and the Nittany Lions during the match.
Penn State will host George Mason again Saturday night at Rec Hall at 7 p.m.
Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at email@example.com.