MVB: Penn State Defeats Cal Baptist In Four Sets

Story posted March 19, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack Milewski

University Park, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions made the most of Chris Nugent’s return to the lineup, using a balanced attack to propel themselves ahead of Cal Baptist in four sets. Nugent led all players with 16 kills and looked strong after missing three weeks with an ankle injury.

“I thought we were tested in several ways tonight,” head coach Mark Pavlik said. “First, with adjusting to Chris back in the lineup but also because we got in to some tight sets and were able to find ways to win them.”

Penn State won two of the three sets that were decided by two points, winning a 26-24 battle in both the first and fourth sets to bookend the match. With all the weapons that the Nittany Lions had going offensively, the Lancers seemed to struggle to find ways to stop the potent attack. Calvin Mende, Aiden Albrecht, and Kevin Gear finished with 13, 11, and 10 kills respectively.

“We had a good balance tonight and it makes it easier when everyone is attacking like they were,” setter Luke Braswell said. “When you have options like that as a setter, it makes it much easier to keep the blockers off balance since all of your hitters are swinging well.”

As a team, Penn State hit .310 while limiting the Lancers to just .219. Kevin Vaz, Luis Palos, and Rohit Paul all terminated in the double digits, but the hitting percentages showed a lack of consistency from the group.

Penn State also got great contributions off the bench, including a phenomenal service performance from Jalen Penrose, who smashed five aces during the match. Penn State is not known as one of the harder serving teams in the nation, but when Penrose is on, he can be as dynamic as anyone from behind the line and he showed it in the contest. 

“Jalen was very good for us tonight,” Pavlik said. “He was comfortable in his role and looked like he figured some things out in practice that translated to the game. Now you just have to see that continue.”

Penn State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the set category as they traded the lead with Cal Baptist to begin the first set. The Nittany Lions mounted a 19-16 lead, but the Lancers methodically pushed back until it was even. After some tense points, Nugent ended the set with a kIll.

Penn State was all over Cal Baptist in set two, but fell in to some attacking issues in set three and were unable to put the match away. Set four nearly mirrored set one as the teams once again traded the lead early on. Penn State gained the lead, but was never able to create space as the Lancer staved off two match points. Mende ended the contest with a cross court bullet from the right side.

The No. 13 ranked Nittany Lions are back in action next weekend, on the road against Lewis and Loyola Chicago. Penn State will look to improve their 2-1 record in their current six-game out of conference slate.

 

Jack Milewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jbmyankee@gmail.com.