From the sideline, Zack Parik watches as his teammates go to work. He takes in the match unfolding before him, focusing on each individual play.

Parik knows that at some point he will be called on to enter the match and contribute for the team. If he is not prepared, then the whole team will suffer.

“I’m not necessarily a guy that is really fiery,” Parik said. “I’m always a guy that is focused and that other people can look at and just kind of calm down when they see me staying calm.”

The 6-foot-4 sophomore setter has a main role on the team: serving specialist.

“From last year, we got him in that role early,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “He hits a really good float serve, and it moves a lot. He has developed an understanding of what he can do.”

Pavlik said Parik does a good job of paying attention to the different serving matchups so that he can enter the match and make a difference whenever he is needed.

There are two different types of serves players use during a match: a jump serve and a float serve.

The two serves could be likened to different pitches that a pitcher throws in baseball.

A jump serve is like a fastball. Very fast, and when executed perfectly, nearly unhittable. A float serve is like a changeup. A slower pace, but when sprinkled in between fastballs can leave a player frozen.

Both serves can be effective if done correctly.

Parik has served 61 times for the Lions this season, and has totaled one ace so far. The setter uses a float serve, so aces are not Parik’s aim when he enters a match. Parik’s objective when he enters the match is accuracy.

“I’m one of the number one serving subs,” Parik said. “I go in for the [middle hitters/blockers] a lot when we need at least more of a consistent serve put in play.”

It us up to Parik to tell Pavlik he is ready to go in for someone.

Pavlik’s guideline is after 12 to 15 serves, Parik comes to him and asks the coach who to go in for. Once on the floor, Parik contributes more than just his serve.

Through 12 matches, the team has played 42 sets. Parik has played 34 of those sets and has contributed significant time as a distributor.

The setter came on in relief of starting setter Taylor Hammond, and played two sets in Penn State’s sweep of Erskine on Feb. 7. Parik totaled a season-high 22 assists against the Flying Fleet.

Parik has registered 63 assists so far this season, a number that should rise as the sophomore continues to flourish in his role.

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Garrett Ross can be reached at gar5143@psu.edu or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @garrett_ross.