No. 10 Penn State entered the weekend on a winning streak.
It left on a losing streak.
The Nittany Lions, who went into Indiana having won five consecutive matches, fell to unranked opponents IPFW and Ball State this weekend.
The Mastodons, who broke the winning streak Saturday, beat the Lions in five sets (18-25, 25-23, 19-25, 27-25, 15-11).
The next day, the Cardinals downed Penn State in four sets (25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 25-20). It was the second time Penn State has lost back-to-back matches this season. The team lost two straight against Ohio State and Harvard in early February.
“Any time you lose, it kills momentum,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “Now, we just go back to the gym and try to learn from this weekend.”
With the losses, Penn State (14-5, 8-1 EIVA) ties the amount of losses it had last year in the regular season, when the team went 21-5
Penn State did not out-hit either opponent this weekend, and the Lions were out-hit .379-.218 in the loss to Ball State.
Penn State also recorded more attacking errors than both teams. The Lions recorded 25 attacking errors to IPFW’s 17 on Saturday night, and Ball State committed nine fewer attacking errors than Penn State on Sunday afternoon.
“The errors, they seemed that they were at the most inopportune time,” Pavlik said.
The Lions were also out-blocked in both matches as the Mastodons out-blocked them, 14.0-6.0. Ball State recorded three more blocks than the Lions.
While Penn State hit .260 against IPFW, the Lions recorded a season-high 63 kills, including 19 from sophomore Aaron Russell, a match-high. He also had a team-high 15 kills in the loss to Ball State.
In the loss Sunday, Penn State didn’t tie or lead Ball State until the third set — the only one the Lions won.
“I’m pleased with the way we came back in game three, kind of started to right the ship, but it was too little, too late,” Pavlik said after the loss to Ball State.
With the loss to Ball State, Penn State has now lost to four non-conference opponents this year. However, the Lions, 8-1 in conference play, still remain in first place in the EIVA.
Penn State will take on rival Ohio State next weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The two schools have split two matches this season with sweep victories over one another.
“It will be interesting,” Pavlik said. “I think you look at this week, and what do we do to keep getting better, and you measure yourself against Ohio State and see where you are at.”