Penn State wins 15th EIVA championship in a row with sweep of Harvard
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 1 seed Penn State (23-7) earned a 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-16) win against No. 3 seed Harvard to claim its 25th overall and 15th consecutive EIVA Championship title. The win secured the Nittany Lions a berth in the NCAA semifinals hosted by UCLA on May 2 & 4.
Penn State will join the winner of the MIVA Championship and the MPSF Championship as the three teams earning automatic bids to the NCAA semifinals.
Sophomore Aaron Russell was named the EIVA Championship Most Outstanding Player, while junior Peter Russell and sophomore Nick Goodell earned spots on the EIVA Championship All-Tournament team. Joining the trio were Harvard's D.J. White and Caleb Zimmick, Princeton's Pat Schwagler and George Mason's Michael Kvidahl.
Peter Russell was Penn State's leader in kills with 14 on an .875 hitting percentage. Aaron Russell was second on the team with 10 kills. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond paced the offense with 36 assists, while Goodell had a match-high three aces. Aaron Russell had a match-high eight digs and sophomore Connor Curry had seven. Aaron Russell also led the Lions in blocks with three.
Penn State hit an impressive .474 and totaled 45 kills, seven aces, 22 digs and four team blocks. Harvard registered a .250 hitting percentage with 28 kills, two aces, 18 digs and four team blocks.
The first set started out close and Penn State was only ahead by two at 12-10 midway through the frame. After a Goodell putdown and a Harvard error, the Crimson used a timeout with Penn State up by four at 14-10. Penn State maintained at least a three-point lead until a 3-0 run increased the gap to six. Harvard called a second timeout and notched a point on a PSU service error. A 4-1 Nittany Lion run increased Penn State's advantage to eight at 23-15. Harvard tallied one final point before an ace from freshman Zack Parik secured set one for PSU at 25-16.
The Nittany Lions grabbed a 5-2 lead to start the second stanza. The Crimson fought to within one at 6-5, but Penn State held on to its slim lead until a 3-0 run gave the Lions a comfortable 15-10 advantage. Harvard called a timeout, but it didn't faze the Nittany Lions as an ace from redshirt freshman Matt Seifert and a Goodell kill increased the Lion lead to six at 17-11. The teams went back and forth with kills from Goodell and Aaron Russell, aiding Penn State in its control of the set. After a Harvard kill, a putdown by Seifert had the Lions with a seven-point lead. Despite a service error, one kill each from Aaron and Peter Russell sandwiching a Harvard error gave the Lions a 25-16 second set win.
The third stanza was much like the first two with neither team dominating early. Halfway through, back-to-back kills from Peter Russell had PSU up by four. Harvard called a timeout and managed to slow the Lions enough to narrow the gap to two at 14-12. Penn State headed to the bench, regrouped and embarked on a 6-1 run for a 20-13 lead. Harvard called its final timeout, but it proved too little too late. Four Crimson errors, as well as a kill by Aaron Russell finished out the third set in Penn State's favor at 25-16