As the men’s volleyball team approaches the stretch run of its regular season, it will be increasingly important for Penn State to consistently succeed. This must take place both for the team overall but also for players on an individual basis.
Recent matches have been highlighted by some players statistically on the rise; however, other players have been experiencing midseason slumps.
Listed below are three players in each of these two categories.
1. Joe Sunder
The fifth-year senior was named the EIVA offensive player of the week after carrying the Nittany Lions to a 3-0 sweep of St. Francis on Saturday. He absolutely recovered from a rough West Coast trip the weekend before, tallying a team-high 13 kills on a hitting percentage of .500 against the Red Flash.
2. Aaron Russell
Although often times riding under the radar, this true freshman has been a true example of consistency throughout the year. Russell demonstrated his offensive prowess against the Red Flash on Saturday, having a hitting percentage of 1.000, hitting a perfect eight-for-eight in the match.
3. Nick Turko
Turko has recently been excelling in all facets of his game. In the St. Francis match he had three kills, hitting .500, but left his mark more so in blocking and serving. The junior played a part in four of Penn State’s seven blocks, and also helped the team jump out to a 6-0 lead with three aces early in the match. After his four-ace match, Turko is now fourth in the country in serving, averaging .46 aces per set.
1. Nick Goodell
The redshirt freshman has certainly been experiencing a mid-year slump of late. After hitting a team-leading .381 in the first 14 matches of the season, Goodell has averaged less than two kills per set in the past three matches, having a hitting percentage of just .154. In the St. Francis match, Goodell hit under .100 for the first time all season (7/21 with five errors).
2. Jace Olsen
Olsen got a great chance to prove himself in the St. Francis match when he was given the start due to a team-rule violation by Peter Russell, the usual starter. Unfortunately, the sophomore came up short in this one with just five kills on 14 swings, leading to a sub-par hitting percentage of .071. Furthermore, Olsen added four of the team’s 10 serving errors.
3. Penn State’s EIVA opponents
In Penn State’s seven EIVA matches so far this year, the Lions are 7-0. That doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how superior Penn State is to its conference opponents. Penn State has averaged an impressive hitting percentage of .391 in route to seven straight sweeps in EIVA play. So yeah, it’s safe to say Penn State’s conference opponents are, collectively, "down".