As Penn State prepares for its sixth home match of EIVA schedule, the Nittany Lions are healthy, focused and ready to compete. The team set the tone last week against Ohio State for how they expect to bring more to the table in the second half of conference play, winning in straight sets.
Penn State will host St. Frances this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall before hitting the road to take on Harvard in Massachusetts on Friday. Then, the Nittany Lions will conclude the weekend Saturday in Connecticut against Sacred Heart.
“If our performance was indicative above anything last Tuesday it was heartening to see that we were at a focus and performance level that bodes well for the next seven matches.” coach Mark Pavlik said.
Execution and domination will be the main focal point against St. Francis for Penn State knowing it will be a tight match as The Red Flash will bring a challenge to Rec Hall.
“I think you will see another tight one again, to be honest, and if we can get control and not let them get into a zone we will have some opportunities that we can score on,” Pavlik said.
Penn State has built a strong reputation for having an all-around high-class volleyball prog…
The first match this season for the rivals was a win for Penn State when Saint Francis came up short in four sets 3-1. With 26 ties and 11 lead changes Penn State was able to secure this win as its first of EIVA and plans to make Tuesday another success.
“When they don’t execute to the level that they want to and we get an opportunity to swing at a ball, that’s when we can’t give it back to them and say here try again,” Pavlik said. “We have to take advantage of that situation.”
One of Penn State’s key strategies will be to isolate Michael Fisher, St. Francis’s controlling outside hitter. If Penn State gives him one too many swings the match can become out of its control.
“There’s an overall focus that says he’s their guy and we don’t want to be late when the ball is going to him,” Pavlik said. “He is going to be probably 60-70% of their offense so let's make that tough on him.”
The Nittany Lions will continue their season with an advantage of feeling comfortable when making regular changes when they need to make them. Pavlik feels the team will be able to thrive against St. Francis and the rest of the season if it can stick to the game plan and not let one player control the match.
“We have to keep our physicality and make sure we can pass physical serves,” Pavlik said. “We have to keep putting games away and other teams will have nothing to hang their hat on.”