MVB: Nittany Lions Get Home Split
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State normally controls its home gym in EIVA play and that was partially the case this weekend. The No. 13 Nittany Lions split the series this weekend, sweeping Harvard on Friday and falling to Sacred Heart 3-1 on Saturday.
Harvard had not played as many games as Penn State and they played like it, committing 19 errors and only hitting .211. The low hitting percentage of the Crimson can be attributed to the height that the Nittany Lions were able to put in front of the block.
Redshirt freshman Calvin Mende was a big part of the block against Harvard as he recorded a solo block and four assisted ones to record three for the match. He also recorded 15 kills on 30 swings with five hitting errors.
He was not the only Nittany Lion to record double digit kills against the Crimson as Lee Smith and Aidan Albrecht had at least 10 kills. Smith was Penn State’s most consistent threat on the outside as he recorded 16 kills on 29 attempts and had a .379 hitting percentage.
He also helped on the block as he had a solo block and three assisted ones. Smith said that the reason for the high block number was the work done in the practice gym.
“I see it, especially in the practice gym, we’re getting a lot more effective at closing the blocks,” Smith said.
Albrecht only had 10 kills on the night, but he only had three errors and finished the night with a .333 hitting percentage. He carried his solid performance against Harvard into the Sacred Heart game, recording a team high 14 kills.
His seven hitting errors also led the team as the Nittany Lions had 23 throughout the course of the match. Mende had five hitting errors and was replaced by Jalen Penrose towards the end of the third set.
Smith had 10 kills for the second straight night, but only hit .226 and had two blocking errors. He did also record five assisted blocks, something that Penn State was able to do all night.
While Sacred Heart recorded more blocks than Penn State, the 13 blocks recorded gave the Nittany Lions a solid presence at the net. Middle blocker Kevin Gear was the biggest presence at the net as he recorded eight assisted blocks.
Gear had seven kills on the night, but his .333 hitting percentage was good enough to pace the team. As a whole, Penn State hit .214, a number not nearly high enough to win in the EIVA.
The loss for the Nittany Lions drops them to 4-2 in the conference, a record that they probably did not expect to have at this point in conference play. Albrecht said what the team needed to do in practice before their next set of games.
"We’ll definitely push each other in practice this week and the next couple of weeks,” Albrecht said.
The Nittany Lions head on the road next week as they take on George Mason on Friday night and Charleston on Saturday.
Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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