UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Top-seeded No. 7 Penn State men's volleyball (19-9) swept past fourth-seeded Princeton (11-13) in three sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-10) Wednesday evening to advance to the EIVA Championship finals.
Winners of their last 15 consecutive matches, the Nittany Lions will square off against No. 3 seed George Mason (15-12) Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. PSU will also look to capture its 17thconsecutive EIVA Championship title.
Senior Aaron Russell powered the Penn State offense with a match-high 19 kills on .720 hitting, adding a team-high five aces and two blocks. Redshirt junior Matt Seifert and redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose added six kills each. Seifert put away all six kills on seven swings without a single attack error.
Sophomore Chris Nugent and redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway tallied four kills apiece.
Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond paced the team to a .500 hitting clip, dishing out 39 assists to go along with two digs and one block.
Trailing by two early in set one, 5-3, a kill from Penrose lifted the Nittany Lions within one, 5-4. With PSU unable to pull away, Princeton followed with three points in a row to double the Tiger advantage, 8-4, forcing Penn State to call a timeout.
Callaway came out of the break with a kill to cut off the run, but the Tigers answered back with a 3-1 strike to make it 11-6. Penn State used a quick 3-0 strike to move back within two, 11-9. Princeton responded with a pair of kills in between one from Penrose to keep ahold of a three-point lead, 13-10. Russell put down two kills and back-to-back aces to open up a 6-1 streak that lifted the Nittany Lions ahead by two, 16-14.
Princeton halted the run with a kill and a block to tie the frame, 16-16, but Penn State followed with a 5-2 stretch to widen the advantage to three, 21-18. The Tigers made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a kill, 21-19, but PSU used a 4-1 streak capped off by a triple block from Penrose, Seifert and Nugent to secure a 25-20 win in the first set.
Tied at 6-6 in set two, Penn State broke open the knotted score with four unanswered points to take over a three-point lead, 9-6. Princeton came battling back with a 4-3 stretch to trim the advantage to two, 12-10. Russell pounded three consecutive kills to build the lead back to five, 15-10. A Nittany Lion service error broke up the streak, 15-11, but PSU regrouped with a 4-1 strike to bolster the advantage to as many as seven, 19-12.
Princeton continued to fight, using a 5-4 stretch to arrive within six, 23-17, but Seifert and Russell wrapped up a 25-17 win in the second set with two consecutive kills to put Penn State ahead, 2-0 in the match.
Penn State shot out to 5-1 advantage in the third set, causing the Tigers to call an early timeout. Princeton came out of the break with a kill, 5-2, but PSU used another 4-0 run featuring two kills from Seifert to make it 9-2.
Princeton looked to slow the momentum with a timeout, but Goodell, Russell and Nugent powered another 4-0 streak that pushed the advantage into double figures, 13-2. From there, the Nittany Lions did not let their lead dip below 10 points for the remainder of the stanza as Penn State cruised to a 25-10 win in the third set to complete the sweep.