After being relocated to the South Gym due to the wrestling meet between Penn State and Wisconsin being held in the Main Gym, the Nittany Lions rolled to 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18) victory over No. 13 Lewis in straight sets Friday night in Rec Hall.
Penn State took the opening set 25-22 behind the play of senior Tom Comfort, who registered seven kills and no errors in the first frame.
“For the seniors, this is our last year. This is the last chance we’ve got,” said Comfort, who finished with a game-high 18 kills and 12 digs. “We don’t want to lose at all on our home court this year.”
The Nittany Lions were also the beneficiaries of five service errors committed by Lewis, while Penn State was also in the giving spirit as they committed four service errors themselves in the first set.
The second set was nearly a mirror image of the first -- Penn State took it 25-23 with Comfort logging another seven kills.
After getting out-blocked by Penn State 1.5-to-4 in the first set, Lewis went on the defensive to the tune of 7.5 blocks in the second set and finished with 17.5 to Penn State’s nine.
Members of the press nearly had an uninvited guest land in their laps during the middle of the set as Aaron Russell, nine kills, dove to save the ball, and the point, for Penn State.
“All the effort you saw tonight we saw all through the fall,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik. “Tonight we won most of the long rallies and by shear effort we kept the ball in play.”
Lewis finally appeared to work out the kinks in the third set, as their blocking was once again a major factor in their 25-20 set victory with redshirt sophomore Geoff Powell (team-high 13 kills) leading the offensive charge.
Neither team was able to take a commanding lead of any kind as the score flip-flopped between the two throughout the first three sets.
The fourth and final set proved to be a different story, as Penn State dominated to the tune of a 25-18 score.
“I thought our guys battled hard on defense but you have to credit Penn State with the pressure,” said Lewis coach Dan Friend. “This is a tough environment to play in, especially coming off of a few long road trips.”
The Nittany Lions return to Rec Hall on Jan. 22., when they host Loyola-Chicago.