Penn State Swept by Princeton
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Princeton came into Rec Hall as losers of 32 consecutive games against Penn State in University Park Friday night. Nonetheless, the Princeton Tigers (10-14, 7-6 EIVA) dominated from the start and swept the Penn State Nittany Lions (14-10, 9-4 EIVA), 3-0, for their second win over Penn State this year.
“That was pretty much a butt-kicking that Princeton laid on us tonight,” Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said. “[I’m] disappointed in the fact that I didn’t have our guys understand the level that they needed to compete to be successful tonight.”
Princeton needed a win in order to lock up the fourth and final spot in the EIVA tournament, and they came out firing in the first set. The Tigers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead behind two kills from sophomore Parker Dixon. Penn State also had four errors during the run, a trend that would stick for the entire night. Penn State regained the lead late in the set at 18-16 off of two kills from redshirt sophomore Calvin Mende but dropped the set 25-23.
“We really need to have a short memory with a game tomorrow,” Mende said. “We don’t have a lot of time to digest and figure out what went wrong, [we just] have to bounce back tomorrow.”
The second set was more of the same for Princeton, except sophomore George Huhmann came alive for the Tigers. His 4.46 points per set going into the match leads the EIVA and is good for tenth in the nation. Huhmann tallied six kills in the second set to a dominant 25-17 win, and then Princeton knew they had a shot to pull off the sweep of Nittany Lions in the match and the regular season.
“[Penn State] made some uncharacteristic mistakes...they didn’t play great and we played really well,” Princeton head coach Sam Shweisky said. “Things fell in our favor tonight...but Penn State is an incredible team and we may see them again in a week or so.”
Heading into the third set, the Nittany Lions were already facing a mountain of a comeback. Princeton jumping out to a 9-3 lead didn’t help. Huhmenn finished off his match with 19 kills on a .531 hitting percentage and was followed up by sophomore Greg Luck who had eight kills on a .312 hitting percentage. More attack errors hindered Penn State, as they finished with 18 of them to Princeton’s seven.
The Tigers were able to finish off the match and the sweep on a kill from Luck to wrap up a 25-17 win in the third set. In a series that Penn State has dominated in the long-term, 59-4 coming into the night, Princeton has been able to take the last two and sweep the Nittany Lions in their two matches this season.
“The [competition] level was low, and I need to figure out what I need to do this week to get them ready,” Pavlik said. “This [loss] doesn’t even get on the scoreboard with the rest of [my losses].”
Penn State has a chance to end the regular season on a high note as they welcome the NJIT Highlanders for senior night before heading into the EIVA tournament as the three seed. Princeton travels to take on St. Francis before entering the EIVA tournament as a four seed.
Joe Skinner is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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