Penn State is lacking a superstar, and Mark Pavlik is perfectly fine with it, as long as his team keepa producing.
The No. 9 Nittany Lions have had 10 of their 14 dressed players see action in more than 10 sets this season, and only two of those 10 haven’t had double digit kills, one player being libero Connor Curry.
“Some years you have somebody that everybody in the gym knows they are getting the ball at a certain time,” Pavlik said. “And then you have other years where you spread the wealth. You get guys that are good at what they do and do their job well.”
The 9-2 (3-0 EIVA) Lions have eight players who average at least 1.00 kill per set.
“I think it’s nice because we know if someone is having an off night, someone else on the court is perfectly able of stepping up and showing up,” redshirt freshman Matt Seifert said.
Seifert is one of the players that comes off the bench. However, Pavlik has used him in 34 of 40 sets this season.
Seifert made an immediate impact with 10 kills last Friday night against St. Francis.
Others like senior Kyle Mars, redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell and redshirt junior Scott Keggereis have come of the bench and produced in previous matches.
“No matter if I’m starting or Tommy [Comfort] is starting, or Scott is starting, I know that whoever is playing always has the chance of going off one night,” said Goodell, who has 31 kills in 11 sets this season.. “Or if they struggle, one of us can go in and fill in.”
Seifert sees the depth as a chance to use show off Penn State’s might.
“I definitely think it is a weapon for us,” Seifert, a middle hitter, said. “I think some of the people who might be on the bench for us could start at a lot of other places,”
Pavlik said he realizes everyone will occasionally have an off night, and the use of the bench provides the reassurance that the Lions “truly are a team,” he said.
“You only have each other,” Pavlik said. “And when each other steps on the court, when they are asked to and delivers, that just brings the team even closer together.”
Pavlik also sees the depth as a chance for the team to keep pushing itself to get better as the season progresses.
“I think the other benefit it has is when the whole team knows anyone of them can be in at any point,” Pavlik said. “It gives everybody a reason for the day-to-day practice grind to say ‘I’ve got to get better.’ ”
As the season wears on, the Lions will use the depth to their advantage.
Penn State is about to enter a stretch six of seven weekends that are spent away from Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions have only five home regular season matches left.
“[The depth] enables to rest some guys when you need to rest some guys,” Pavlik said. “I think that is important. I think one of the most underrated factors of a long season is how you can get people rested, and give them the opportunity to recharge a little bit.”