No. 6 Penn State returned to South Gym Saturday night and defeated Mount Olive in straight sets (26-24, 25-22, 25-22), moving to 8-1 on the year.
The momentum of the match volleyed back and forth between the two teams almost as much as the volleyball itself.
“I think Mount Olive presented a different sort of challenge, they have a different rhythm serving,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “Once we settled down with our first contacts, our offense got in gear and I think we asserted ourselves. They made us play and I think we want that this time of year.”
The away team pressured Penn State the entire opening set and narrowly lost the competitive back and forth battle 26-24.
Aaron Russell was on the attack in the first set as he paced the Nittany Lions with eight kills and a .636 hitting percentage.
Setter Taylor Hammond logged 16 assists in the first set, well above his average of assists per set.
Fans in attendance were treated to more back and forth action from both sides of the net in the second set. The press even got involved in the action as Ben Casado of Mount Olive went crashing into the press table after attempting to keep the ball in play and save the set for his team.
Casado was walked off under his own power and play was stopped as trainers attended to him.
“He’s doing well [after the accident], he hates giving up on a play,” said Mount Olive coach David Heller.
Once play resumed, Penn State attended to business of its own and bested the Trojans 25-22 to take the second set.
The third set proved to be the final one as Penn State won another competitive set by the same score of the second, 25-22.
The Nittany Lions went to their bench once again as they got a productive match out of Nick Goodell, who hadn’t seen much action thus far this season.
Goodell, who paced the winners with a game-high 13 kills, was named the Penn State Mike Anderson Player of the Match.
“No matter who it is they can have their night to go off,” said Goodell. “Tonight was just the luck of the draw for me.”
Penn State returns home Feb. 8 against Saint Francis.