The emotion in Rec Hall against George Mason was overwhelming. Not only did Penn State men’s volleyball play one of its all time rivals, it was its last home game which means Senior Night.
The Nittany Lions commemorated three players that have each left their own unique impact on the program. Even though the team was not able to come out with a win, the last memory and guidance the seniors have given the rest of the team will last something longer than this season.
Frank Melvin has been a constant voice for the team. Coach Mark Pavlik reminesies on each player, and says how Melvin has been a valuable fuel to the team’s fire.
“A great student athlete. Everything you would want in somebody that comes in no matter what role you have tagged him with, he embraces it. He is a great example of a great teammate. Anything for the team. Anything we need, he is there. He is going to be a great professional ,” Pavlik said.
Lee Smith has overcome injury after injury while also combating taking on various new positions throughout his years. Although Smith was unable to play the majority of the season due to an injury in the beginning of the season, his leadership has never gone unnoticed.
“He has probably had the worse luck of any fifth year senior. The challenges that were in front of him through his five year career would have been easy to knock anyone off of their feet. But the one thing that he has done is he maintains a leadership position. He is all in with his team -- providing feedback and not being afraid to come up here and letting us know what his thoughts are ,” Pavlik said.
Matthew McLaren has been someone who has continuously represented the definition of hard work and dedication. After coming onto the team as a walk on his freshman year, he has persisted to become an even stronger asset to the team.
“He received the ultimate compliment by being voted captain by his teammates. He is so understated, it is easy to take him for granted. When he says something, his team listens to him. He has got a great head on his shoulders. He came in and walked on after being at our camp, and has done everything we have asked him to do. He has made a very nice career for himself,” Pavlik said.
With a ceremony in the beginning to recognize the work and efforts the seniors have made over the course of their time here, it did not transcend into how the game would be played in the mere moments after. There were two separate components in tonight’s festivities and both were unaffected by the other.
“Senior night was obviously really special to me, but I had it in two parts -- the before part and the match. Senior night did not affect the match at all,” McLaren said.
To each person, to wear the blue and white means something different to everyone who steps into the Penn State program and community. For McLaren, it means to represent the history and the present as to where this program has gone, and what it will soon be.
“To me it means to play for people other than yourself. Play for all of the alumni, play for your team, play for your coaches and everything they give you here. Play for all of that because it is worth it,” McLaren said.