A lot can go wrong for a team over the span of four years.
However, since March of 2008, the Penn State men’s volleyball team was blemish-free in 61 EIVA matches. The Nittany Lions accumulated win after win in conference for so long, longer than any other team in men’s volleyball history.
But that accomplishment was virtually unnoticed by much of the team.
Both Nick Turko and Connor Curry admitted to being unaware of the streak, which speaks to the mindset that coach Mark Pavlik has instilled.
“It wasn’t something we thought about,” Pavlik said. “I don’t want to sound like we didn’t appreciate what happened, but we weren’t sitting there counting ‘47, 48.’ We were just playing.”
With the streak very much alive at the beginning of the season, it appeared that the Nittany Lions were well on their way to running the table in the conference yet again. The closest any team had come to knocking Penn State off its perch in 2013 was in late January when Harvard battled the Lions for five games.
But last Friday, Penn State was seeing red — Crimson, in fact.
The Nittany Lions limped into Cambridge, Mass., after suffering through a nonconference sweep at home, but Harvard proved to be merciless. The Crimson not only handed the Lions their first conference loss in almost five years, but swept them like Penn State had been accustomed to doing itself.
The pain from the shocking loss quickly wore off as they returned to form on Saturday, sweeping Sacred Heart to restart the EIVA winning streak.
According to Turko, the Lions need to get back to what earned them the success in the first place.
“It’s really just an attitude that we have to win a match,” Turko said. “We always want [the EIVA tournament] at home, so we know in order to do that we need to win every EIVA match.”
With the historic streak now in the past, Curry said that the team can play freely again, and the pressure of the streak is one less thing to worry about.
But in the long run, Pavlik says everyone will truly be able to reflect on the magnitude of the accomplishments.
“When these guys graduate and I step away, we’ll all be able to sit back and look at these memories and know that we accomplished something,” Pavlik said.
In the immediate future, though, the Lions cannot waste any time dwelling on the past, as Penn State is currently presented with an unfamiliar situation.
With the team regularly blazing through the conference, it has not seen much time in second place in the EIVA. The Lions sit behind George Mason, a team headed to Rec Hall this weekend.
“We have something to prove this weekend,” Curry said. “With these matches coming up, I think this is the biggest weekend of the year because we lost to Harvard.”
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