Penn State Bounced From Atop EIVA For The First Time Since 1998

Story posted April 22, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time since 1998, Penn State will not be EIVA champions as the top-seeded Nittany Lions lost three sets to one to No. 4 St Francis (PA). The loss is Penn State’s 10th on the season and their third against teams in the EIVA.

The semifinals were held in Rec Hall, Penn State’s home court and the place where it has dominated EIVA opponents, as they only lost once in conference play on their home floor. St Francis were the only team to beat Penn State at home, winning the match like they did tonight three sets to one.

The victory over Penn State earlier in the season gave the St Francis players lots of confidence and knew they had a chance to compete in the game. Junior outside hitter Jeff Hogan of St Francis said beating Penn State earlier in the year made the Red Flash prepared for the game.

“Winning that game, since we knew we could do it,” said Hogan. “You could tell the guys were a lot more confident, even all week you could tell.”

Hogan truly had a fantastic night for the Red Flash as he had 22 kills in the match and consistently got the big points St Francis needed down the stretch. Co-EIVA Player of the Year Chris Nugent did all he could for Penn State, as secured 20 kills for the Nittany Lions.

The first set was filled with runs and service aces as Jalen Penrose secured four straight aces at the beginning of the first set. Six lead changes and 11 ties occurred during the first set with Penn State winning 29-27.

Penrose’s spectacular display to start the set faded away as he struggled to keep the ball in play, recording six hitting errors on only 12 swings. Aidan Albrecht checked in for Penrose and provided Penn State with impactful play, especially in the fourth set.

Albrecht recorded eight of his 12 kills in the fourth set, commanding double and triple blocks every time he swung. He did it all in the fourth set, even climbing on a chair to save a ball.

Penn State’s effort was not the reason they lost, but the sloppiness of play as the Nittany Lions recorded 42 hitting and service errors, the same amount they committed against George Mason, a three sets to one loss last Saturday.

Head coach Mark Pavlik said that Penn State had an opportunity late in the second set to control the match, but were unable to control the opportunity.

“We need one point in game two to go up 2-0,” said Pavlik. “Maybe that changes the timber of the match. We never got that side out.”

Captains Matt Seifert and Matt Callaway provided constant energy for the Nittany Lions and Seifert will be missed next season, as he was a three-time captain and a first team All-EIVA member.

Senior setter Taylor Hammond will also be missed as was a first team All-EIVA member. St Francis will play George Mason for the EIVA championship on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in Spanish and broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu