Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps Loyola
Coming off a 3-1 victory over Lewis on Friday night, Penn State was back at it again Tuesday night in Rec Hall against a streaky Loyola squad.
“I think the work these guys put in probably the last three practices on our transition game paid off,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik after the game.
Loyola was trying to play spoiler and end a three game east coast swing with an upset over the sixth ranked Nittany Lions. The four game losing streak came to a halt for the Ramblers as they succumbed to Penn State by a 3-0 sweep that included 27-25, 25-16, and 25-19, dropping Loyola to 4-4 on the season. An impressive striking effort paced Penn State converting on 72% of attacks, outmatching Loyola that converted on only 57%.
“Anytime you can side out 72% through an entire match is going to put you in a good position to win”, said Pavlik, whose squad played in front of a dismal crowd of only 206 on a cold night in State College.
The first set was captured by Penn State 27-25 and was tight throughout the entire set. Senior Tom Comfort paced the Nittany Lion attack with five kills as well as 3 blocks. Comfort’s kill ended the set as Penn State faced game point twice. The brother duo of Peter Russell and Aaron Russell combined for four kills and came away with many key points late in the set to keep Penn State in it until the very end. Taylor Hammond contributed 13 of the teams 14 assists for the Nittany Lions. Loyola contributed zero blocks, but 17 kills in the set as junior Dainis Berzins led the team in points.
The second set was a dominant victory for Penn State as they took the lead after the lead early and never looked back. The additional pressure was noticed by Pavlik.
“We kind of let Loyola stick with us and take that lead and the energy came up at the end of game 1 all the way through game 2 and we were up 13-7,” Pavilk said.
After 11 ties in the first match, there were only three ties and no lead changes as the biggest margin got up to over double digits for the Nittany Lions, eventually winning 25-16. Aaron Russell was the big contributor in the set with five kills and leading the team in points. Taylor Hammond dished out another impressive performance in the assist column with 12 in the match. Coach Pavlik’s squad held a firm advantage over the Ramblers due to many unforced errors on the part of Loyola’s serving efforts.
The third set was more like the first set even though the score did not indicate it in the end. Penn State finished off Loyola 25-19, while holding off a couple of late surges by the Ramblers. After jumping out 7-3, a Loyola timeout was much needed as it got them back within two, but that would be the closest the set would be the rest of the way.
The three leading strikers for Penn State on the season, Aaron Russell, Peter Russell, and Tom Comfort did much of the same leading the Nittany Lions in kills for the set as well as the entire game. Averaging 12 assists per set, Taylor Hammond had all of the Nittany Lions assists except for 3 the entire game.
“I think it really boiled down to keeping consistent serving pressure on them and converting our opportunities putting more pressure on them to keep up with us in the side out game,” Pavlik said. “If you hold a team to under 60% side out, you’re going to have opportunities to score” said Pavlik.”
Penn State will return to action at home on Friday at 7:00 PM against Sacred Heart and Loyola will return home to action on Friday against George Mason.
Ryan Stevens is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.