There are 3,888 full-time students at the Commonwealth campus Penn State Altoona.
There are 4,078 full-time students at Pfeiffer and Mount Olive combined, No. 6 Penn State’s next two opponents.
But even though the Nittany Lions will be facing two young, small volleyball programs, Penn State isn’t looking past this weekend.
“I'm really looking forward to this weekend to see Pfeiffer and catch up with Mount Olive, again,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “We know they are always going to be a quality opponent. They will make us work. If we don't play at a good enough level, they have the potential to make us pay for it.”
The 6-1 Lions look to extend a six-match winning streak, taking on a 5-1 Pfeiffer tonight at 7 and 6-1 Mount Olive at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Penn State will be the first Division I team that Pfeiffer will play this season, and it will be the second Division I team that Mount Olive plays. The Trojans take on St. Francis Friday night.
This is the fifth time that Both schools are fairly new as Pfeiffer is in its fourth season of play. Mount Olive and Penn State have played each other since 2005, and Pavlik said the program is still relatively young.
It is the first meeting ever between the Nittany Lions and Pfeiffer. Both schools are from Conference Carolinas, which is the only multi-sport conference to include men’s volleyball.
“I'm just anxious to get a look at them, and see how they are doing,” Pavlik said. “Hopefully, we're looking, if we can get the Conference Carolinas strong, that certainly gives us some options for travel over spring break, places where we can go to get high quality volleyball matches, and maybe not have to travel nearly as far.”
There are three major conferences in men’s volleyball that only get automatic bids to the final four — MPSF, MIVA and EIVA. Penn State belongs to the EIVA, however, and plays most other sports in the Big Ten.
Accepting men’s volleyball in more multi-sport conferences would show signs of growth for the sport.
“Men's volleyball is a smaller sport,” senior opposite and team kill leader, Tom Comfort said. “We are trying to get it to be bigger and let it grow a little. I am all for them trying to play and all for them trying to get their conference a lot bigger, and maybe, who knows, in the future we will have a lot more conference to compete for the final four.”
The Nittany Lions come into tonight’s match after opening up conference play with wins over Sacred Heart and Harvard. Despite this weekend’s matches being non-conference, several members of the team are taking it like any other match.
“We've got two great chances to improve and work on our side of the net,” senior middle hitter and block leader, Nick Turko said. “I think we just try to keep it the same, same routine, same level of scouting report and we go there in the match and do what the scouting report says, and work on our own game.”
One thing that the Lions could do a better job of is hitting. Penn State hit .047 in its last match.
“How consistent we are versus how consistent they are is basically going to be the story,” Pavlik said. “Can you play well for extending periods of time? If we can force them to do that, because we are doing that, I like our chances.”