UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Top-seeded Penn State men’s volleyball (18-9, 12-0) looks to capture its 17th consecutive EIVA Championship title this week, kicking off the event with a semifinal match against fourth-seeded Princeton (11-12, 6-6) Wednesday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall. No. 2 seed Harvard and No.3 seed George Mason will square off in the earlier semifinal match at 5 p.m.
Live video and live stats will be available for all EIVA Championship matches. Links and more information regarding all participating teams can be found on the 2015 EIVA Championship Central page located here.
The Nittany Lions enter the week on a 14-match winning streak having swept past Saint Francis in three sets last week to wrap up a perfect mark in the EIVA regular season at 12-0. Penn State’s unblemished record marks the third time in the last five years that PSU has gone unbeaten in conference play during the regular season.
· Head coach Mark Pavlik earned his 500th career victory in the 2015 regular season finale on the road at Saint Francis. He’s collected all 500 wins while at the helm of the Nittany Lion program.
· Penn State earned a total of five EIVA postseason honors. Senior Aaron Russell highlighted the group with Uvaldo Acosta Memorial Player of the Year honors, while Mark Pavlik earned Bob Sweeney EIVA Coach of the Year Honors. Russell and redshirt senior Connor Curry earned first team honors, while redshirt senior Nick Goodell and redshirt junior Taylor Hammond were second team honorees.
· Russell joins José Quiñones (2000-02) as the only Penn State men’s volleyball student-athletes to repeat as EIVA Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons. He’s also the 16th conference player of the year selection in Nittany Lion program history.
· The Nittany Lions clinched their 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title in program history two weeks ago with a pair of wins against Harvard and Sacred Heart. The two wins guarantee the Nittany Lions the No. 1 seed and home court advantage for the upcoming EIVA Championship April 29 and May 1.
· The Nittany Lions hold a 53-3 mark in the all-time series against Princeton. Penn State claimed both matchups against the Tigers during the 2015 regular season and has not lost an EIVA Championship to Princeton since 1998.
· Penn State is still slotted sixth in the fifth release of the RPI ranking. The Nittany Lions are one of two EIVA teams represented in the RPI top 20, with Harvard (19), George Mason (21), Princeton (27), Sacred Heart (30), Saint Francis (31), and NJIT (34) all coming in behind PSU.
· Penn State is ranked among the top 10 nationally in kills per set, averaging 12.89, which is slated seventh in the country and leads the EIVA. Senior Aaron Russell’s contributing a team-high 4.65 kills per set, which ranks second in the nation and first in the league. He’s reached double figure kills in all but two matches this season.
· PSU is ranked in the top 15 nationally in digs per set, averaging 9.54, which is slotted 11th in the nation and second in the EIVA. Redshirt senior Connor Curry’s leading the way with a team-high 2.54 digs per frame, which ranks seventh in the nation and first in the league.
PENN STATE TOTALS FIVE ALL-EIVA POSTSEASON HONORS
Four Nittany Lions earned EIVA postseason honors. Senior Aaron Russell highlights the group with his third consecutive Uvaldo Acosta Memorial Player of the Year honor, making him just the second Nittany Lion in program history to earn the award three times. Additionally, head coach Mark Pavlik earned Bob Sweeney EIVA Coach of the Year honors. Redshirt senior Connor Curry and Russell each earned First Team All-EIVA honors, while redshirt senior Nick Goodell and redshirt junior Taylor Hammond earned second team accolades.
Russell joins José Quiñones (2000-02) as the only Penn State men’s volleyball student-athletes to repeat as EIVA Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons. Russell’s award is also the 16th time a Nittany Lion has been honored as the league’s Player of the Year. The four All-EIVA honors brings Penn State’s all-time number of conference selections to 198 since 1972. Pavlik’s Coach of the Year laurel marks the fifth time he’s been selected for the award, as was previously honored in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013.
PAVLIK ACHIEVES CAREER MILESTONE
In his 21st year at the helm of the program, head coach Mark Pavlik reached the 500 career wins milestone with a 3-0 victory on the road at Saint Francis in the 2015 regular season finale. Pavlik has earned all 500 of his career victories while at Penn State.
A LOOK AT POTENTIAL EIVA CHAMPIONSHIP OPPONENTS
Penn State won both regular season contests against the Crimson during the 2015 regular season. The Nittany Lions topped Harvard in four in Cambridge, Mass. before claiming a close 3-2 win at home. PSU is 11-1 in the all-time series against Harvard and have never lost to the Crimson in the EIVA Championship. Harvard posted a 7-5 record in EIVA action and a 13-11 mark on the year.
The Nittany Lions swept past George Mason in three sets in both regular season outings this year. In the all-time series, Penn State owns a 97-14 advantage, having not lost an EIVA Championship match to the Patriots since 1988. GMU finished conference play with a 7-5 mark and a 14-12 overall record.
Should the Nittany Lions defeat Princeton in the EIVA Semifinals, Penn State will advance to the EIVA Championship match, which is slated for Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. PSU would meet the winner of the first semifinal match between No. 2 Harvard and No. 3 George Mason.