Lions Roar Into EIVA Finals
May 2, 2009
Courtesy of Penn State
University Park, Pa. - - The fifth-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team swept George Mason (30-19, 30-22, 30-21) in the second of two EIVA conference championship semifinal matches Thursday night at Rec Hall to advance to the EIVA Championship Final on Saturday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. The defending NCAA Champion Nittany Lions (26-3) will face Juniata (18-7), who defeated Saint Francis in four games (30-28, 26-30, 30-26, 33-31) to advance to its first EIVA final in school history.
"I thought this was a really good way to open up EIVA playoffs for us against a team that we have a lot of respect for," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "Mason's been here in this position many times. I think we all know that they can do some damage. I thought tonight Edgardo (Goas) did a really nice job of pumping balls to the antenna. The way Max (Holt) started the match with his serving start just really set a tone for us to be really physical with the ball. I was really pleased."
The Nittany Lions now hold an overall record of 56-3 in the EIVA Conference Championship tournament, with a 20-3 record in the EIVA Final dating back to the 1986 season. Under head coach Mark Pavlik, Penn State has earned the right to host the EIVA Championship 12 times since 1995, including the last 11 years. The Nittany Lions hold an overall record of 38-1 in the 14 years under Pavlik, with the lone blemish a three-game loss to Princeton (7-15, 13-15, 14-16) on April 16, 1998. Penn State holds a 36-0 all-time record in the EIVA Championship tournament at Rec Hall, including a 29-0 mark under Pavlik. The Nittany Lions will be seeking their 21st EIVA Championship title and their 24th berth in the NCAA National Collegiate Semifinals.
Against George Mason Thursday night, redshirt freshman outside hitter Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.) led the way with 15 kills on .650 hitting as junior outside hitter Will Price (Gaithersburg, Md.) collected 11 kills on .391 hitting. Senior middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) pounded nine kills on an errorless 11 swings to hit .818 while senior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.) provided nine kills to aid the Lions. As a team, Penn State attacked at a .458 clip, including hitting .562 in the third game.
Redshirt freshman setter Edgardo Goas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) dished out 41 assists as Sweitzer led the defense with a career-high nine digs. Goas tied his personal-best with eight digs and Sunder added in six digs, while Price and sophomore libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) both contributed five digs, with Del Valle also providing strong passing and several amazing plays on block coverage. Del Valle now stands just six digs short of setting a new Nittany Lion record for single-season digs. Penn State outdug George Mason, 34-15.
The Nittany Lions racked up eight service aces in the match behind another blistering effort from Holt, who recorded seven aces, including four of the first six points in the match. Holt now has 77 service aces for the year, shattering his previous school record of 55 set during the 2007 season. His 205 career aces make him the first player in Penn State history to record more than 200 career aces.
Penn State claimed the blocking battle, 7.0 to 5.5, led by Goas, Lipsitz and Holt with three and Price and Sweitzer with two apiece.
For George Mason, Kyle Gramit recorded 11 kills to lead the Patriots.
Holt scored four of the first six points of the match on service aces and back to back Sunder kills pushed the lead to 12-6. Kills from Price and Sunder made it 19-10 while a Holt kill made it 24-13. A Price kill gave Penn State the 26-17 advantage before a Price kill ended the game, 30-19.
Consecutive Lion blocks, one from Lipsitz and Goas and another from Goas, Lipsitz and Price, along with another Holt ace put Penn state up 4-1 to start the second game. A Holt and Sweitzer stuff made it 8-4 before a Holt kill made it 11-8. The teams remained even, with a Sweitzer kill pushing the Lions ahead 14-12 before Penn State put-aways from Holt, Sunder, Price and Sweitzer extended the lead to 20-14. Back to back Holt aces made it 23-15 and a Goas kill gave the Lions the 27-18 advantage before a Holt kill ended the stanza, 30-22.
Another tandem of blocks started out the third game, with Goas and Holt providing one and Holt and Sunder providing another to put Penn State up 7-4. Sweitzer, Sunder and Price came through with kills before a Price, Lipsitz and Sweitzer block pushed the lead to 15-8. Two Sunder kills along with a Holt put-away made it 20-14 and a Sweitzer kill off the block extended the advantage to 25-18. Two more kills from Sunder and Sweitzer aided the Lions in going up 28-20 before a Holt kill ended the game, 30-21.
The EIVA Championship Final, featuring Penn State and Juniata, will be Saturday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall, with the winner earning an automatic berth in the NCAA National Collegiate Semifinals on Thursday, May 7 in Provo, Utah. The NCAA National Collegiate Championship is slated for Saturday, May 9 in Provo, Utah.
Ticket prices for the EIVA Final are $5 for adults, $3 for youth and $2 per person for groups of 10 or more. Penn State students are free with their PSU ID. Tickets can be purchased the day of the event at Rec Hall, with the ticket office opening at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Gametracker and online video streaming (for a fee) will be available at www.GoPSUsport.com.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State men's volleyball 2009 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.