Nick Goodell can jump with anyone in the nation, swing with anyone in the country, but this past weekend he merely watched from the comfort of his own home as one of the best attackers in the country dominated his team at BYU.
Due to injury, the redshirt freshman was unable to help his team against Taylor Sander and the Cougars, contributing to two straight critical losses for the Nittany Lions.
Behind just All-American outside hitter Joe Sunder, Goodell, who is second on the team with 210 kills this year, has been the team’s primary option on offense this year. However, Goodell was missing in action in the team’s most recent road trip due to a shoulder injury he incurred in practice last week. He said he hopes to be back in the team’s regular season finale this Saturday against St. Francis.
Goodell suffered the injury in the beginning of last week and the coaches and trainers didn’t want to take any chances. Head coach Mark Pavlik explained soreness in his swinging shoulder should be taken seriously at this point in the year.
The opposite said yesterday he plans on easing his way back into the practice routine this week.
“Just hitting around, I felt twice as good,” Goodell said. “If I can like serve and pass today and I feel fine, I think I’ll be good to go [on Saturday].”
Throughout the season, Goodell has stepped up in matches when Sunder has been shut down by opponents.
For example, in the Harvard match on Feb. 17, Sunder was held to single-digits in kills and hit just .133. Goodell stepped up as the primary option in this match, hitting 15 kills with a .750 hitting percentage in Penn State’s 3-0 win.
Junior middle hitter Nick Turko said Goodell’s aggressiveness and athleticism help him dominate matches on the offensive end.
“I think Goodell skies high and hits the ball pretty much as hard as he can every time and he’s a great offensive threat,” Turko said.
Junior Tom Comfort filled in for the missing opposite against BYU and exhibited a Goodell-like performance in the first match, leading the team in kills while Sunder had a less than impressive outing.
However, in the second match, both Comfort and Sunder were held to single-digit kills and the Lions were swept by the Cougars, 3-0.
Although Goodell certainly could have given the team an offensive boost, he remained modest when discussing his team’s play without him.
“I thought we played really well, but BYU, I just thought they were unbeatable no matter who they played,” Goodell said.
Despite the old-age adage in sports that a player should not lose a starting spot due to injury, it remains to be seen if Goodell’s injury will keep him from returning to the starting lineup.
No matter what the case, Turko said he thinks it will be an interesting week of practice to determine who will reclaim the starting outside hitter spot.
“Tommy played real well against BYU and Goodell has been playing well all season,” Turko said. “I think it depends on who plays well this week in practice.”