LORETTO, Pa. – Penn State men's volleyball head coach Mark Pavlik earned his 500th career victory as the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions (18-9, 12-0) swept (25-21, 25-19, 25-22) Saint Francis (6-20, 4-8) Saturday afternoon. In his 21st season at the helm of the program, Pavlik has earned all 500 wins at Penn State.
The win secures an undefeated mark in EIVA action for the NIttany Lions, marking the third time in the last five years that PSU has gone unbeaten in conference play during the regular season.
Senior Aaron Russell led the offense with 16 kills on .462 hitting with two aces, while also tying for first on the team with five blocks. Redshirt junior Nick Goodell finished second on the team with nine kills, adding four digs.
Redshirt junior Matt Seifert finished tied for first on the team with five blocks. Redshirt senior Connor Curry led the defensive effort with 11 digs.
Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond paced the team to a .333 hitting clip, dishing out 34 assists.
Penn State jumped out to a 5-2 lead early in the first frame. The Red Flash looked to cut off the run with a kill, but the Nittany Lions matched Saint Francis point-for-point to maintain a three-point lead, 8-5. SFU looked to spark a run with a kill, 8-6, but Penn State regrouped with a 4-1 strike to pull PSU ahead, 12-7.
Saint Francis cut off the streak with a kill, 12-8, but once again, the Nittany Lions matched the Red Flash point-for-point to remain on top by as many as five, 17-12. A PSU service error brought SFU within three, 17-13, but Russell opened up a 5-2 stretch with a kill to make it 22-15. Another Nittany Lion service error and a Saint Francis kill moved the Red Flash within five, 22-17.
Russell and Penrose put down two kills in between a pair of SFU kills to arrive at set point, 24-19. Saint Francis held off two attempts before a Red Flash serve into the net secured a 25-21 win in favor of the Nittany Lions.
Trailing by three in set two, 5-2, Penn State used a 6-3 stretch to tie the score, 8-8. Unable to pull away, the two teams battled back-and-forth through five more tied scores. With the score knotted, 16-16, Penn State put together a 6-0 run, capped off by a triple block from Russell, Goodell and Seifert to surge ahead, 22-16.
The Red Flash looked to end the momentum with a kill, 22-17, but the Nittany Lions did not look back, closing out the frame with a 3-2 spurt to lock up a 25-19 win in the second set.
Penn State and Saint Francis kept it tight early in the third set. With the score tied, 9-9, a SFU error and a solo stuff from Russell sent Penn State ahead, 11-9. The Red Flash stopped the run with a kill, 11-10, but the Nittany Lions came charging back with a 4-1 strike to widen the advantage to four, 15-11.
Saint Francis looked to slow the momentum with a timeout and a kill before a PSU attack error pulled the Red Flash within two, 15-13. Penn State answered back with a 6-3 streak capped off by a block from Russell to bolster the lead to as many as five, 21-16.
Saint Francis looked to mount a comeback with a 3-1 spurt, 22-19, but a quick 2-1 burst from PSU made it match point, 24-20. The Red Flash held off a pair of attempts before Russell put away one final kill to close out a 25-22 win in the third set to complete the sweep.
Next up, Penn State will host the 2015 EIVA Championships for the 18th consecutive year April 29 - May 1, after earning its 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title. PSU will be the No. 1 overall seed in the field with Harvard, Princeton and George Mason. Penn State will host the annual event for the 17th consecutive year.