In the semifinal round in the EIVA conference tournament, Penn State won under pressure when it was needed most.
After topping George Mason, a team ranked second in the EIVA that has beat the Nittany Lions in the past two matchups, in five sets, the Nittany Lions are one step closer to claiming the EIVA conference title.
The last time Penn State won the EIVA conference title was back in 2017 when the team hosted the tournament in Rec Hall. Fifteen players that are currently on this year’s roster have witnessed the last conference title win at Penn State.
Now with some of those 15 players now having the opportunity to partake in this postseason affairs, some of the newbies on this years team can help in the possible future success. With true freshmen Brett Wildman, Cal Fisher, Cole Bogner and Canyon Tuman all having starting positions on the team, the youngest class at Penn State is making a name for itself in the face of pressure and experienced competition.
Wildman registered a career high with 22 kills and Bogner with a total of 57 assists. In the main categories of kills, blocks, assists, aces and digs, there was at least one of those two players were listed in those categories besides the blocking category. With a consistent level of high competition, the freshmen have taken after the team’s winning confidence to not stray away from a challenge.
Even in make of break points of the match, the team kept its composure. Wildman mentions how when the match reached five sets, there was no nervous energy before the set that determined the future for Penn State was about to begin.
“We have been playing 15 point games every practice to end the practice. So when we were about to go and head into the fifth set, Dylan -- our assistant coach -- said this is just another 15 point game just like we do in practice ,” Wildman said.
Coach Mark Pavlik has mentioned how in other matches in the past, the team’s physicality falls short in competing against teams, and could result in the team suffering a loss. However, in tonight’s match, Penn State’s physicality prevailed and established the competitive drive it hopes to bring into Saturday’s match against the winner of St. Francis versus Princeton.
Wildman mentioned how although the team did not win during the regular season against the Patriots, Penn State was able to win where it mattered most. With the championship match merely two days away, the team prepares for another challenge and using the tenacity in all players.
“You do not look back and do not say, ‘Oh I wish I would have.’ You look at where you are at now, and plan for the future. You use the past as a, ‘If you can replay it, replay it the way you want it to turn out and give yourself some mental reps there.’ I am not really worried about what happened in the past, and what we did then. I am worried about what we are going to do on Saturday.,” Pavlik said.