FAIRFIELD, Conn. –– One weekend with two victories was the game plan for Penn State but losing another player was not.
Penn State’s objective to return home in victory to Rec Hall was carried out as it swept Sacred Heart again this season.
The Nittany Lions took one of those steps in the right direction on Saturday as they swept the Pioneers in three straight sets.
“We just keep doing what we do with re-assessing and reaffirming our strengths,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “It doesn’t matter who is on the court, we just want to get to 25 first.”
As Penn State took the second set and entered set three as a powerhouse, Will Bantle and Brett Wildman collided for a possible dig which left the game on pause as Bantle was carried off on a stretcher to further look into an injury.
“I think anytime something like that happens you can let it go one way or another, and our team has preached to each other about being a good team no matter what,” Pavlik said.
Penn State remained focused and came out on fire for the remainder of set three, something the team has had to learn to work with and been in the position for several times this year. Penn State kept its lead in check and continued to dominate over Sacred Heart.
“They understand that when someone goes down, the game still has to be played,” Pavlik said. “Once we got settled in I thought we were fine and we had to just keep pushing ourselves through the match.”
Henry Payne stepped in for Bantle as his first ever match. Payne practiced as a libero at most twice his whole career as he redshirted last season. Pavlik reflected on his performance in a manner of well pleased.
“Hank did what we thought he can do and he’s played enough volleyball to know where he has to be defensively to play some good first contact,” Pavlik said.
The Nittany Lions will continue their journey to finish off the season with their heads held high and determination planted on the court no matter what obstacles are thrown their way.
“Another curveball was thrown at us but I thought we handled it pretty well,” Pavlik said. “You never wanna see a guy go down but our team didn’t lose a beat.”