UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ninth-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball team (11-3, 5-1 EIVA) earned a 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22) victory against conference foe George Mason on Friday evening. Junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) was honored as the Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match.
Senior Tom Comfort (Orchard Park, N.Y.) was one of three players with double-digit kills. He had a team-best 18, while Russell posted 15 and his brother, sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) recorded 13. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) dished out 47 assists. Aaron Russell and senior Nick Turko (Lewisberry, Pa.) each registered three aces. Redshirt sophomore Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) had a match-high 14 digs to lead the Lions defensively, while both Aaron Russell and redshirt freshman Matt Seifert (Reading, Pa.) put up five blocks apiece.
Penn State hit .281 against the Patriots. The Lions totaled 56 kills, nine aces, 33 digs and 10.0 total team blocks. George Mason (5-6, 3-1 EIVA) had a .235 hitting percentage and finished the match with 43 kills, four aces, 29 digs and 10.0 team blocks.
The Nittany Lions leapt to a 6-2 lead in set one forcing the Patriots to take an early timeout. Penn State’s lead grew to six, 8-2, before two Nittany Lion errors pulled George Mason within four, 8-4. Two straight George Mason errors increased Penn State’s lead to six, 10-4, but two more PSU errors had the Patriots within four, 10-6, once again. GMU moved to within three, 11-8, before a 4-1 Penn State run had the Lions back up by six, 15-9. George Mason called a second timeout, but the Lions maintained at least a five point lead through the middle of the set. Two George Mason kills and a PSU error helped pull the Patriots within two, 19-17. Following a Penn State timeout, the Patriots were unable to come any closer than two points of the Nittany Lions. An Aaron Russell kill and a PSU block had the Lions back up by four, 23-19. Despite two kills from the Patriots, putdowns from Seifert and Peter Russell secured set one for Penn State, 25-21.
George Mason took the early lead in set two, going up 3-1. The Patriots were unable to maintain control as two Comfort kills and a Seifert ace had the score knotted at 5-5. Kills from Turko and Peter Russell as well as a Penn State block had Penn State with a three-point lead, 9-6. The Patriots called a timeout, but kills from Turko and Comfort and another Penn State ace had the Lions leading, 12-8. George Mason fought to within one, 16-15, but an Aaron Russell kill gave Penn State a little breathing room, 17-15. Despite a service error a Comfort putdown and a Turko ace increased the Lion lead to three, 19-16. George Mason called a timeout, but a Seifert kill and a GMU error increased the gap to four, 21-17. The teams traded points before a Patriot putdown brought GMU within three, 23-20. A Penn State timeout destroyed any Patriot momentum as George Mason tallied back-to-back errors for a 25-20 Penn State win.
The third frame was close at the start, but with the score tied at 7-7 a 3-0 George Mason run had the Patriots leading, 10-7. Penn State fought to within one, 11-10, after two kills and an ace. However, a 4-1 George Mason run had the Patriots with a four-point lead, 15-11. Penn State narrowed the gap to two, 18-16, but two points by GMU had the Patriots back ahead by four, 20-16. A Peter Russell kill and a triple block from Aaron Russell, Comfort and Turko pulled PSU back within two, 20-18. Two straight Nittany Lion errors and a George Mason ace had Penn State trailing by five, 23-18. The Lions headed to the bench and slowed the Patriots enough to cut the gap to two, 23-21. Aaron Russell and Seifert joined forces for two straight blocks to aid the Lions. It proved too little too late. The Patriots called a timeout, regrouped and used a kill and an ace to take set three, 25-21.
George Mason grabbed a 3-1 lead in set four before three straight kills from the Lions had Penn State with a 4-3 edge. GMU tied it up on a PSU service error, but two consecutive Nittany Lion putdowns had Penn State leading by two, 6-4. Penn State maintained the lead to the midway point of the set when the Patriots knotted the score at 12 all. Comfort and Peter Russell each tallied a kill to give Penn State the lead, 14-12, and send George Mason to the bench for a timeout. Penn State maintained at least a one-point advantage until a Patriot error, a kill from senior Ian Hendries (Cardiff, Calif.) and an Aaron Russell ace pushed Penn State ahead by four, 22-18. The Patriots called a second timeout and capitalized on two Lion errors to come within two, 23-21. Penn State called a timeout and George Mason followed it with a kill to narrow the gap further to one, 23-22. However, a Turko kill and a George Mason error closed out the set in Penn State’s favor, 25-22.
Penn State is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. against Princeton. The match will be played in the South Gym of Rec Hall.
For more information on the Penn State men’s volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State men’s volleyball 2013 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.
Story courtesy of Penn State