In a weekend of few bright spots for the Nittany Lions, junior Tom Comfort was able to shine for his team on both sides of the net.
Comfort moved into a starting role for redshirt freshman Nick Goodell, who was sidelined during the weekend due to a shoulder injury. Though the Lions dropped both of their matches to BYU, Comfort was one of the most productive players on the floor.
He led Penn State on Friday with 16 kills on a .333 hitting percentage, along with six digs and two blocks. On Saturday, Comfort posted nine kills, six digs and two aces as Penn State was swept 3-0. Comfort powered the offense while redshirt senior Joe Sunder, who leads the team in kills, suffered through an uncharacteristic weekend. Sunder totaled a lowly eight kills on .042 hitting Friday and five kills on .167 hitting on Saturday.
“I felt pretty good about this weekend, obviously it’s a bummer we lost and we never want to lose,” Comfort said. “At the same time I thought Edgardo [Goas] was getting me the ball pretty well so I was just trying to do my best to help us win.”
Comfort has had to adapt to an uncertain role the entire season. After some offensive struggles and the emergence of Goodell as one of the team’s best hitters, Comfort was pulled from his starting role early in the season. Comfort was able to maintain his confidence and level of play becoming one of the Lions’ most productive bench players, leading all reserves with 118 kills.
“We’ve got faith in Tommy and he certainly proved why this weekend,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “Tommy did what Tommy always does well. He plays hard, he blocks well, he serves the ball… He really forced BYU to focus on him.”
The Cougars were forced to focus on Comfort while the rest of the offense struggled for the Lions this weekend.
Even with these struggles and the status of Goodell remain up in the air, there remains a confidence throughout the team that whoever steps into the starting role will get the job down.
“I thought Tom played great. Obviously it showed statistically, but I thought he played better than just stats,” Goodell said. “I thought he had a great overall appearance on the court.”
Comfort looks to the weekend ready for any role he is put in.
“Who knows who’s going to start, it’s whoever plays well in practice,” Comfort said. “I don’t know if coach is going to go back to Nick or stay with me, it doesn’t matter. Whoever’s in there has to do their best at trying to win.”