It's EIVA Tournament time, and that means Penn State is playing to keep its season alive.
The Nittany Lions travel back to Princeton, New Jersey, to take on George Mason in the first round. Only one team will continue its season and reach the final.
“None of us are approaching this match like it’s our last,” Jason Donorovich said. “But when you are running out of time to play with your team, you enter with a mentality of wanting to fight for the guy next to you because it could be the last.”
The Nittany Lions will face George Mason Thursday, for the third time this season and are most prepared this time around, having lost the previous two meetings against the Patriots. Penn State is focused on correcting the major struggles it had.
“They put together a real nice team this year and the league is getting better,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “However, the team that is going to win this match is the team that exerts its physicality defensively and offensively.”
“It’s hard to beat a team three times, so if they already beat us twice this year I think we are going to put up a good fight and a harder fight than we have before,” Donorovich added.
Some scenarios of the match will be beneficial to Penn State while others are going to add to the challenge of playing George Mason.
“You could look at it both ways, the fact that we just played there says, did we really leave in the first place?” Pavlik said. “The disadvantage is when you look at the four teams there this week, nobody is coming off of a weekend with rest and be at home except Princeton.”
Cal Fisher will enter this match as his fifth of the season and the most important. The new starting libero for the team is going to approach this match with nothing else but a strong mentality.
“I think the expectation that we have of Fish, he has been beating,” Pavlik said. “One think about him how he competes as a passer against a server and as an offender against an attacker when it’s just one on one with no block.”
“My mom gave me the best advice the other day, to think about what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, stay positive and don’t think about the bad things,” Fisher said.
As they have all season, the Nittany Lions are staying in check, ready to play some volleyball and most importantly hoping to come into this game united as one.
“I think it’s important to walk into the gym without anything else on our mind,” Donorovich said. “It’s crunch time now with finals and EIVA, so you have to walk onto that court focused on nothing but volleyball.”
“I think we are going to see what our guys can throw together and what you call a good George Mason, Penn State match,” Pavlik said.