Penn State men's volleyball vs George Mason, Cameron Bartus (11) and Canyon Tuman (15)

Cameron Bartus (11) and Canyon Tuman (15) go up for the block during the men’s volleyball against George Mason at Rec Hall on Saturday, April 6, 2019. The no. 13 Patriots defeated the No. 16 Nittany Lions 3-0.

The offseason has arrived for Penn State and the team’s objective is clear — growth.

In Saturday’s EIVA championship match, Penn State’s season came to a close.

A back and forth match for five straight sets, it was anyone’s game to win.

However, although the result says the Nittany Lions lost, the team’s third loss to Princeton this season, just getting to that point proved that Penn State’s season was still a success.

This season was filled with multiple injuries for Penn State.

On more than one occasion, the Nittany Lions had multiple members of the rotation out at once. The lineup was filled with new rotations, and coach Mark Pavlik consistently tried new things to find the right match.

The 2019 season had a lot of twists and turns, and getting to the championship match in the EIVA Tournament was something that almost seemed out of the picture for a team with this many setbacks.

“I could not have been more proud of our guys. If you would have said to me in February, ‘We will give you game five, 8-8 in the EIVA championships,’ I would have jumped up,” Pavlik said.

Penn State men's volleyball vs George Mason, Mark Pavlik

Head coach Mark Pavlik looks on during the men’s volleyball against George Mason at Rec Hall on Saturday, April 6, 2019. The no. 13 Patriots defeated the No. 16 Nittany Lions 3-0.

This was more than a match for the players. This was a highlight of the season, and something that they all got to do together. For redshirt senior Matt McLaren, having to end the season in a championship match with this particular team was something beyond words.

“For me, it’s my last match so that is pretty special. Also it is the EIVA championship that makes it special,” McLaren said. “We went out there and battled. It was crazy and exciting, so that also made it special.”

Although the ending to the season was not what the Nittany Lions hoped for, the accomplishments they had along the way should lead to a promising future for years to come. Pavlik was impressed with how the team has grown since the start of the year and the possibility of having more success as the season went on turned out to be true.

“I think one of the things we have mentioned this year is how competitive we were,” Pavlik said. “I think this is a great example for our team to understand how important culture is and to understand how to get people on the same page. It is a step in the right direction for us.”

Until next season, the returning players will hold onto this moment. They had the chance to experience an EIVA tournament run together and that experience could be beneficial as they try to get back to that same position next year.

However, Penn State will still hold onto the reality of what this season provided to them.

“I looked at [Cal] Fisher after [the match], and we looked at each other and said, ‘This is not going to happen again.’ I think we will take away that feeling and then over the next three years, I do not think this will happen again,” Brett Wildman said.

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