Back in January, coach Mark Pavlik dubbed the trio of Tom Comfort, Peter Russell and Aaron Russell the “Russell-Russell and Comfort, the Sweat-Suit Company.”
After combining for 28 of Penn State’s 44 kills in a sweep over Loyola-Chicago in January, the Sweat-Suit Company was back in business this weekend leading No. 9 Penn State past George Mason and Princeton, both in four sets.
The trio combined for 91 of Penn State’s 115 kills this weekend, helping the Lions improve to 6-1 in the EIVA and 12-3 overall.
“Our outside hitters were doing a real nice job of going up and just putting ball after ball after ball away,” Pavlik said after the win over George Mason.
On Friday night, senior opposite hitter Comfort tied his season-high with 18 kills.
The older Russell, junior outside hitter Peter, added 15 kills and hit .333. Sophomore outside hitter Aaron finished with 13 in the 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 victory over the Patriots.
“Tom [Comfort] gave us some problems,” Patriots coach Fred Chao said. “But I think it wasn’t the deal breaker there. The deal breaker was the Russells scoring on the left side.”
The Lions out-hit George Mason, .281-.235.
Despite not out-hitting Princeton, Penn State recorded 59 kills, a season-high and 12 more than the Tigers. The Lions downed the Tigers 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 27-25.
“When you get down to matches like this, it boils down to how many opportunities you have to get kills,” Pavlik said. “That 12 kills difference between us and them I think was really the difference in the match.”
Aaron Russell finished the match with 22 kills Saturday. It was both a season and career high for the Maryland native. He broke his original mark of 17, which he set in a five-set win over Hawaii earlier this year.
Comfort finished with 14.
“Aaron Russell, he is really good,” Princeton coach Sam Shweisky said. “He’s got a variety of shots, and I wished we had done a better job of making him hit some different shots. He just kept hitting the same shot real effectively, and we couldn’t stop him. If I were him, I’d keep doing that too.”
It was the first time in three weekends that the Nittany Lions went 2-0 after going 1-1 the past two.
It was also the last time the Nittany Lions play in front of a home crowd until April. Penn State will go on an eight-match away trip during the entire month of March.
“The way that we had two win these two matches were two totally different ways,” Pavlik said. “That showed me that these guys are going to do whatever it took for as long as it took... I just really like the fight and the spirit that we showed. Now, we’ve just kind of rest up and get ready to get on the road.”