CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Behind a trio of double-digit performances, No. 12 Penn State (18-6, 9-1) rallied past No. 15 Harvard (12-7, 8-3) in straight sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) Friday evening at the Malkin Athletic Center.
Redshirt junior Nick Goodell led the offense with a match-high 16 kills, adding seven digs. Senior Peter Russell tallied 14 kills on .429 hitting, adding a team-high two aces, four digs and one block. Junior Aaron Russell rounded out the group with 12 kills to go along with five digs and one ace.
Redshirt junior Connor Curry anchored the defense with 10 digs, while redshirt freshman Matt Callaway led the blocking unit with two blocks.
Penn State opened the match with a 4-1 run, capped off by back-to-back kills from Peter and Callaway to build an early lead. The Crimson answered with two consecutive kills to move within one 4-3. Goodell followed with a kill to give the Nittany Lions a two-point lead 5-3.
PSU continued to maintain its two-point edge 8-6 until Harvard used a 3-0 spurt to take a one-point lead, 9-8. A Crimson service error temporarily halted the momentum before Harvard regrouped with a 4-1 streak to go up by three 13-11. Rallying, Penn State constructed a 7-0 run to secure its largest lead of the frame 17-13.
The Nittany Lions couldn’t shake the Crimson as Harvard responded with three unanswered points to arrive back within one 17-16 forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Penn State came out of the break with a 3-0 stretch, featuring a block from redshirt sophomore Taylor Hammond and Callaway and an ace from Peter to build the lead back up to four 20-16.
In another attempt to mount a comeback, Harvard used a 5-2 streak to shave the lead back to one 22-21 causing Penn State to use its final timeout of the frame. Goodell pounded a kill out of the break, but a service error kept the Crimson close behind 23-22. Harvard held off just one set point attempt 24-23, before Goodell put down a kill to secure a 25-23 win in the first set.
The two teams battled back and forth early in set two before Harvard cracked open a 6-all tie with a 6-1 run to pull ahead with a five-point lead, 12-7. Goodell sparked a 4-2 stretch that narrowed the gap to three 14-11 but the Crimson managed to bolster the lead to as many as five 18-13.
Rallying, Penn State opened up on a 5-1 strike featuring two kills from Peter to trim the lead back to one 19-18 forcing Harvard to call a timeout. A service error after the break kept the Crimson up by two, but two consecutive kills from Goodell knotted set 20-20. Two Penn State errors moved the Crimson up by two 22-20 but PSU battled to two more ties before a pair of Harvard errors lifted the Nittany Lions to a 25-23 win in set two.
Tied up at 3-all in the third frame, the Crimson used a 5-1 streak to pull away with a four-point lead 8-4. A Harvard service error and a kill from Goodell moved Penn State within two 8-6 but the Crimson followed with a 6-2 stretch to remain on top by as many as six 14-8. Regrouping, Penn State answered with three consecutive points to cut the lead back to three 14-11.
The Crimson followed with a kill 15-11 put Peter and Aaron teamed up for two consecutive kills to spark a 4-1 streak that pushed Penn State within one 16-15. Penn State and Harvard continued to trade points until an ace from Aaron gave PSU a one-point edge 19-18. The two clubs tied the stanza two more times before the Nittany Lions used a 3-0 spurt, featuring two kills from Peter to go up by three 23-20. A PSU attack error moved the Crimson within two 23-21, but Peter pounded another kill to make it match point 24-21. Harvard held off one attempt, but Goodell put away one final kill to complete the sweep.