Penn State’s road to glory began this evening, as top-EIVA seeded it took on No. 4 Princeton in the EIVA Men’s Volleyball Tournament semifinal matchup.
However, the Tigers came storming back in the second half of the set, hitting on all cylinders and taking the final set 15-12 to take the 3-2 match victory.
The first set opened up showing Princeton’s confidence, as the Tigers found themselves up 11-8 at the halfway mark.
Princeton’s offense continued to roll through the first set, building a seven-point lead late in the set to round the score to 20-13.
A service ace by the junior outside hitter Brady Wedbush capped off a 3-0 Princeton scoring run and put the set to rest, as the Tigers took a 25-16 first set victory.
Princeton’s offense kept piling up on the Nittany Lions early in the second set, going on a 6-0 scoring run to take the 8-4 lead.
The Nittany Lions came clawing back into the set, trying the set a 16 apiece off of senior outside hitter Brett Wildman’s service ace.
The set found itself going down to the wire, with both teams trading points at the end to decide the winner. A Princeton kill ended the set to give the Tigers a 28-26 set victory and the 2-0 set lead.
The third set opened up just like the first two, showing a strong Princeton offensive clinic and the Tigers holding the lead for the majority of the first half of the set.
However, the Nittany Lions came roaring back with a 3-0 scoring run to take a 16-15 lead over the Tigers.
Both teams found themselves down to the wire as they neared the end of the set. But the Penn State defense came through with a gigantic play, as a block assist by Wildman and senior middle blocker Sam Marsh ended the set and gave the Nittany Lions the 25-23 set victory.
The Nittany Lions opened the fourth set with their best start yet, making plays all over the offensive end and going on a 5-0 scoring run to give them the 14-9 lead at the halfway mark.
Penn State found themselves holding the lead for much of the set, holding the lead for the rest of the set since the 9-9 tie early.
A Nittany Lion service ace gave Penn State the 25-17 set victory and forced the match into a decisive fifth set.
Penn State held the lead for most of the first half of the fifth set, holding an 8-6 lead over the Tigers at the halfway mark.
Here are three takeaways.
Rough offensive start
After having a prominent and strong offensive season, Penn State struggled to find its groove against Princeton in tonight's matchup.
The Nittany Lions lost the kill comparison __-__ while being held to a __ hitting percentage on the evening. Along with this, the blue-and-white offense only found itself putting up 16 points in the first set.
Penn State’s offense struggled to cut into Princeton’s leads throughout the set, with the match only seeing three total lead changes throughout the first two sets.
First set woes
After coming into this matchup as the hottest team in the EIVA, the Nittany Lions opened up their postseason with a rocky first set.
The blue-and-white offense only put up a total of six kills in the first set, while giving up 11 kills to Princeton on a .444 hitting percentage. The Nittany Lion defense also gave up a total of four service aces in the first set, including one of those being the final point of the set.
Penn State didn’t find themselves holding the lead once, and gave up monumental scoring runs throughout the first set, including a 3-0 Princeton scoring run to end the set.
Early 2-0 set deficit
The Nittany Lions found themselves in an early 2-0 set deficit, as Princeton played some of its sharpest volleyball of the season in the first two sets.
Throughout these first two sets, Penn State found itself struggling to make plays and seemed out of rhythm. The Nittany Lion play seemed to pick up near the end of the second set but wasn’t enough to take tie the match at 1-1.
Despite winning the next two sets to force a fifth and final set, the early set deficit proved to do immense damage to the Nittany Lions, as it was too little too late with Princeton taking the fifth set and coming out victorious.
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