“Everywhere, around the world, they’re coming to America.”
Neil Diamond may want to change the lyrics to his song “America” for this weekend because international teams are coming to Happy Valley for the Penn State Fall Ball Invitational.
The Penn State men’s volleyball team will host Ohio State, Laval, a Canadian university and Russia State, a Russian university in a three-day tournament, beginning tonight at Rec Hall.
Penn State will play Ohio State at 8 p.m., and Laval and Russia State will play at 5 p.m.
“We have played the Canadian teams,” Nittany Lion coach Mark Pavlik said. “I don’t consider them much international. They are just very good volleyball players. Laval and Penn State have a long running history, and it’s a lot of fun to play those guys.”
Despite the tournament being exhibition, this will be the first time the Nittany Lions have been on a court since a loss in last year’s NCAA semifinals to UC Irvine.
“It’s just a different team,” Pavlik said. “That’s the one thing. I don’t think things carry over from year to year as much as people believe they do. It’s a new team. It’s a new personality. We have got some young guys who really weren’t part of what happened last year, so I don’t put a whole lot of stock in coming back.”
When Penn State and Laval meet on Friday, it will not be the first time the two schools have met.
Penn State beat Laval in the 2010 season twice, winning both matches 3-1.
“[Laval was] a different type of team,” senior middle hitter Nick Turko said, who was sophomore when Penn State and Laval last met. “They had a different feel of the volleyball.”
“They were trying to power the ball through a little more. They were probably a little slower than we were. Our game is a little faster, I thought.”
Russia State, however, is a complete unknown to Pavlik.
Pavlik said he has played teams from other countries, and it is not too different from American style teams. He knows little about Russia State’s style of play.
“It’s three contacts so there is nothing that you do differently,” Pavlik said. “The question remains how much experience do they have, and how long they have been together. That is really it.”
The only familiar foe in the tournament is Ohio State. Penn State defeated the Buckeyes twice last season, winning 3-0 and 3-2.
The tournament comes after Penn State first practices. To date, the Lions have practiced seven times.
“We definitely get some competition from across the country and across the other country,” Turko said. “But really it is just a matter of playing someone other than ourselves that we play every single day. Getting new faces in front of us, getting different teams, different types of teams and players we are playing in front of.”