MVB: Penn State Sweeps Princeton To Make The Championship
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State entered the game against Princeton having two hard fought, grueling 3-2 victories. That was not the case in the EIVA semifinals as the Nittany Lions controlled the Tigers to a 3-0 victory.
The opening set was thrilling as Penn State won it 25-23 with Princeton leading the set for the majority of it. First Team All-EIVA middle blocker Junior Oboh was the main reason for the Tigers’ early success as the Nittany Lions were unable to stop him.
He went 5-5 from the floor, recording two assisted blocks and a service ace. Oboh was a one-man wrecking crew for the Tigers as he almost led them to a first set victory.
Penn State needed the help from its First Team All-EIVA outside hitter duo of Calvin Mende and Chris Nugent to get out of the first set. The duo combined for nine kills on 18 swings with only three hitting errors.
Penn State started the match a little timid at the net, but became more assertive as the match went along. The Nittany Lions recorded 10.5 blocks on the night, with Mende and Matt Callaway leading the way at the net.
The duo combined to record three solo blocks and eight blocks assists, forcing the Princeton hitters into making tough hits down the line. Setter Luke Braswell talked about how serving was the main reason for their success at the net.
“We served well,” Braswell said. “They were put in a lot of two pass situations; their options were limited to one or two attackers.”
Their play at the net was the reason Oboh struggled to get it going after the first set, recording two kills on six swings. The normally dominant Princeton middle blockers made it hard for the Tigers to get into their offense.
Kendall Ratter and Parker Dixon were the main offensive forces for Princeton as they both recorded 12 kills on the night. The only problem was the team was not the most efficient as Dixon recorded seven hitting errors, hitting .179 on the night.
Ratter only recorded four hitting errors, being the most efficient of the outside hitters. The trio of outside hitters for Princeton recorded 17 hitting errors, a number too high for a team trying to pull the upset.
Penn State’s outside hitters were extremely efficient as they only recorded seven hitting errors. Nugent led the charge, hitting .560 with 15 kills on 25 swings and only one hitting error.
His play throughout the night made it almost impossible for Princeton to come back when they were behind as he also recorded two service aces. Mende and Albrecht played well offensively, combining to record 17 kills on 37 swings with only six hitting errors.
While the match was won in straight sets, Penn State had difficulty with Princeton in the new look EIVA. Princeton head coach Sam Shweisky talked about the positive aspects of changes in the conference.
“It’s changed the past couple of years, which is exciting,” Shweisky said. “We went down to the wire the last weekend it mattered who was going to beat who, who’s going to go where, and it was exciting.”
Penn State advances to the EIVA championship game on Saturday to take on St. Francis, looking to avenge last year’s loss in the conference tournament.
Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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