No. 6 Penn State is regarded as one of the top team’s in the East with a long tradition of winning.
This weekend the Nittany Lions got a chance to see a glimpse of the future, taking on two young volleyball programs.
But for the Lions, they showed off their winning ways, sweeping both Pfeiffer and Mount Olive in Rec Hall.
“I think they are just a great team, they bring a lot of things that we don’t see in the EIVA,” redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell said of Mount Olive. “They have a different style of playing. They bring a lot of fire, but we have an edge of competitiveness, I feel like. It’s just that one step that we have.”
Goodell led the Nittany Lions with 13 kills Saturday night against Mount Olive, a team that gave Penn State a run for its money. The Lions defeated the Trojans, 26-24, 25-22, 25-22. Penn State improved to 8-1 and 6-0 at home this season.
“I think we kind of went in here with the old ‘nothing to lose’ mentality, and it helps just having a lot of energy on the team,” Mount Olive coach David Heller said. “We have players from all over the world, but they know Penn State for its great volleyball...[Penn State coach Mark Pavlik] gave my team a huge opportunity tonight. I’d like to think we didn’t waste it.”
“Especially at the end of every game, I thought we just sharpened up and really asserted ourselves,” Pavlik said of the Trojans. “They made us play, and I think that’s what we want at this time of year.”
Goodell’s play off the bench, combined with 11 kills apiece from brothers Peter and Aaron Russell were key for holding off Mount Olive. In Friday’s match with Pfeiffer, the Nittany Lions also got help from another bench player, redshirt junior Scott Kegerreis.
The 6-foot-6 outside hitter led Penn State with 11 kills and hit .769, both team-highs in the 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 win over the Falcons.
“I think any time you can get guys experience, feeling something, other than what they feel in practice,” Pavlik said. “You can play in practice every day, but once you put on the uniform, the lights go on, the scoreboard lights up, there is somebody in a different uniform across the net and the crowd and the pressure, you’ve got to learn to play with that.”
The Lions breezed past the Falcons as the match only saw five lead changes. Penn State hit .284, out hitting Pfeiffer, which only hit .175. Penn State also had six aces in the match.
Pavlik got some help from his bench in the win, playing 13 of his 17 players in the match.
“I think Pavlik has a great bench,” Pfeiffer coach and Huntingdon native Greg Walker said. “I think that they are guys that are able to come in for him especially under the pressure.”
On the other hand, the Trojans gave Penn State a challenge. The match saw 28 ties, and 10 lead changes. Mount Olive hit .262, but recorded seven aces.
“I think ultimately we were able to score points in transition,” redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond, who had 76 assists on the weekend, said. “That’s what we have been working on it practice. I think it really showed.”