UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 1 seed Penn State men’s volleyball team (23-7) earned a 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-16) win against No. 3 seed Harvard to claim their 25th overall and 15th straight EIVA Championship title. The win secures the Nittany Lions a berth in the NCAA National Semifinals hosted by UCLA on May 2 & 4.
Penn State will join the winner of the MIVA Championship and the MPSF Championship as the three teams earning automatic bids to the NCAA National Semifinals. A fourth team will be chosen by the NCAA Selection Committee. The selection show is set for 3 p.m. on April 28. This will be Penn State’s 18th NCAA appearance under head coach Mark Pavlik and the program’s 28th overall.
Sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) was named the EIVA Championship Most Outstanding Player, while junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) and redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) earned spots on the EIVA Championship All-Tournament team. Joining the trio were Harvard’s D.J. White and Caleb Zimmick, Princeton’s Pat Schwagler and George Mason’s Michael Kvidahl.
Peter Russell was Penn State’s leader in kills with 14 on an outstanding .875 hitting percentage. Aaron Russell was second on the team with 10 kills. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) paced the offense with 36 assists, while Goodell had a match-high three aces. Aaron Russell had a match-high eight digs and redshirt sophomore Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) had seven. Aaron Russell also led the Lions in blocks with three.
Penn State hit an impressive .474 and totaled 45 kills, seven aces, 22 digs and 4.0 team blocks. Harvard registered a .250 hitting percentage with 28 kills, two aces, 18 digs and 4.0 team blocks.
The first set started out close and Penn State was only ahead by two, 12-10, midway through the frame. After a Goodell putdown and a Harvard error, the Crimson used a timeout with Penn State up by four, 14-10. Penn State maintained at least a three-point lead until a 3-0 run increased the gap to six, 19-13. Harvard called a second timeout and notched a point on a PSU service error. A 4-1 Nittany Lion run increased Penn State’s advantage to eight, 23-15. Harvard tallied one final point before an ace from freshman Zack Parik (Woodridge, Ill.) secured set one for PSU, 25-16.
The Nittany Lions grabbed a 5-2 lead to start the second stanza. The Crimson fought to within one, 6-5, but Penn State held on to its slim lead until a 3-0 run gave the Lions a comfortable 15-10 advantage. Harvard called a timeout, but it didn’t faze the Nittany Lions as an ace from redshirt freshman Matt Seifert (Reading, Pa.) and a Goodell kill increased the Lion lead to six, 17-11. The teams went back and forth with kills from Goodell and Aaron Russell aiding Penn State in its control of the set. After a Harvard kill, a putdown by Seifert had the Lions with a seven-point lead, 22-15. Despite a service error, one kill each from Aaron and Peter Russell sandwiching a Harvard error gave the Lions a 25-16 second set win.
The third stanza was much like the first two with neither team dominating early. Halfway through, back-to-back kills from Peter Russell had PSU up by four, 12-8. Harvard called a timeout and managed to slow the Lions enough to narrow the gap to two, 14-12. Penn State headed to the bench, regrouped and embarked on a 6-1 run for a convincing 20-13 lead. Harvard called its final timeout, but it proved too little too late. Four Crimson errors, as well as a kill by Aaron Russell finished out the third set in Penn State’s favor, 25-16.
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