UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The 14th-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball team (21-7, 13-1 EIVA) closed out the regular season with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-17 win against NJIT (7-21, 4-9 EIVA). Junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) was named the Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match.
The Nittany Lions were led by Peter Russell and sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) as they each tallied 11 kills. Redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) also added nine kills. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) paced the offense with 35 assists, while Aaron Russell led the back row with 13 digs. Senior Nick Turko (Lewisberry, Pa.) had a team-high three blocks. Aaron and Peter Russell and redshirt freshman Matt Seifert (Reading, Pa.) added two blocks apiece.
Penn State hit an impressive .398 against the Highlanders. The Lions totaled 45 kills, six aces, 32 digs and 5.0 team blocks. NJIT hit .185 and posted 28 kills, one ace, 25 digs, and 9.0 team blocks.
The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set. NJIT closed the gap to four, 9-5, tallying four points to Penn State’s two. The Highlands moved to within three, 11-8, but a 4-1 run by the Lions had Penn State ahead by six, 15-9. After two points from NJIT, three straight points by the Lions forced an NJIT timeout with Penn State leading by seven, 18-11. The squads traded points with Penn State holding the Highlanders at bay. With a 22-16 lead, two Peter Russell kills and a dump from Hammond, Penn State won set one, 25-17.
NJIT grabbed an early 3-1 edge in set two. However, kills from Peter Russell and Goodell knotted the score at 3-3. Four more consecutive points by Penn State had the Nittany Lions with a 7-3 lead. NJIT kept it close through the middle of the set, but Penn State’s lead eventually grew to seven. 16-9. A 3-0 NJIT run pulled the Highlanders within four, 16-12. The Nittany Lions continued to maintain control, but despite a four-point lead, the Highlanders again mounted a 3-0 run to come within two, 21-19. After a Penn State timeout, a Turko kill increased Penn State’s lead to three, 22-19. NJIT pounded one final kill before three straight putdowns by the Lions secured a 25-20 PSU victory.
After Penn State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third stanza, the Highlanders fought to within one, 4-3. NJIT stayed within four until near the midpoint when Penn State’s lead grew to six, 12-6. The Highlanders moved back within four, 13-9, but a 5-1 run by PSU had the Lions up by eight, 18-10. Following an NJIT timeout, the teams went back and forth with Penn State maintaining control. Three Aaron Russell putdowns pushed the Lions closer to a win as the Lions reached match point, 24-16. NJIT pounded a kill and closed out the set in Penn State’s favor with a service error for a 25-17 Nittany Lion win.
Penn State hosts the EIVA Tournament on April 25 and 27 at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions, the top seed, will challenge Princeton on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. George Mason and Harvard will play in the earlier match at 5:30 p.m. The two advancing teams will meet on Saturday, April 27 at 7 p.m. in the championship match.
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