UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ninth-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball team (12-3, 6-1 EIVA) defeated Princeton, 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 27-25), Saturday night at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions hit the road for their next eight matches before returning home to face Lees-McRae on April 5.
Sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.), the Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match, had a career-high 22 kills with a .395 hitting percentage. Senior Tom Comfort (Orchard Park, N.Y.) was second on the team with 14 kills. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) paced the offense with a personal-best 52 assists. Redshirt sophomore Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) tallied a match-high nine digs and redshirt freshman Matt Seifert (Reading, Pa.) had a career-best eight blocks.
Penn State hit .219 against the Tigers (5-3, 3-2 EIVA). The Nittany Lions totaled 59 kills, one ace, 37 digs, and tied their season high with 13.5 team blocks. Princeton hit .234 and finished the match with 47 kills, two aces, 37 digs and 17.5 team blocks.
After a close start, three straight Princeton errors and a Russell kill had the Lions leading 9-5. Princeton called a timeout and slowly worked to tie the set at 13-13. Comfort put PSU back in the lead, 14-13, but a kill and a block by Princeton had the Tigers on top by one, 15-14. Penn State called a timeout and a Princeton service error had the score at 15 all. The score tied six more times before two Princeton errors gave the Lions a slight edge, 22-21. The Tigers headed to the bench and a solo stuff knotted the score at 22-22. A Princeton error pushed Penn State back into the lead, 23-22, before a block by senior Nick Turko (Lewisberry, Pa.) and junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) put PSU at set point, 24-22. The Tigers managed one final kill before another joint block by Turko and Peter Russell secured set one for Penn State, 25-23.
Penn State jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second frame, but the Tigers weren’t fazed and had the score tied at 6-6. The score tied twice more before a Princeton kill and a PSU error pushed the Tigers into the lead by two, 10-8. Penn State used a timeout, but Princeton’s lead grew to four, 13-9. The Lions narrowed the gap to two, 14-12, but Princeton didn’t back down. As the set began to wind down, Princeton’s lead increased to five, 20-15. Penn State called another timeout, but it didn’t slow the Tigers. Princeton scored four points to Penn State’s two to reach set point, 24-17. Two Tiger errors pulled Penn State within five, 24-19, but the Tigers closed out set two with a kill for a 25-19 win.
Neither team developed momentum early on in the third stanza. Near the midpoint of the set the score was tied at 11-11. An Aaron Russell kill and a Princeton error gave the Lions a two-point edge, 13-11. A 3-0 Princeton run placed the Tigers in the lead, 14-13. Following a Penn State timeout, the score tied twice before a 3-0 run by Penn State gave the Nittany Lions control, 18-15. Penn State maintained the lead for the remainder of the set. Princeton used a timeout, but Princeton came no closer than two points. At set point, 24-20, Princeton called a timeout and a Princeton kill and a PSU error had the Tigers within two, 24-22. After a Penn State timeout, a service error by the Tigers gave Penn State set three, 25-22.
Penn State grabbed the momentum early in the fourth frame with a 5-2 lead. Princeton took an early timeout but continued to trail. It wasn’t until the Tigers pulled within two, 17-15,that Penn State needed to take a timeout. The Nittany Lions continued to control the set, but Princeton didn’t give up. Penn State had a 21-18 lead when two Tiger kills and a PSU error closed the gap to one, 22-21. A huge Princeton block knotted the set at 22-22. Penn State called a timeout and retook the lead on a Comfort kill, 23-22. Each team followed with two kills apiece, which kept Penn State up by one, 25-24. A PSU service error returned the ball to Princeton, but Aaron Russell pounded a kill to conclude a long rally for a third set point attempt, 26-25. Hammond set Comfort who pounded the final kill for a 27-25 victory.
Penn State meets Rutgers-Newark and NJIT on March 1-2, respectively. The Lions face the Scarlet Raiders at 7 p.m. on Friday before challenging NJIT at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
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