Men's volleyball captures EIVA crown, NCAA semifinal berth

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The eighth-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team (23-5) earned a 3-1 (25-16, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22) victory against George Mason Saturday (April 28) evening to take the EIVA Championship title. The victory marked Penn State's 24th overall and 14th straight EIVA crown.

Penn State has earned an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA National Collegiate Men's Volleyball Championship hosted by USC on May 3 and 5. The Nittany Lions are the No. 4 seed and will face No. 1 seed UC-Irivine at 9 p.m. ET at USC's Galen Center in the first semifinal match. Second-seeded USC (23-5), who earned the at-large bid to the championship, takes on No. 3 seed Lewis (26-6) in the second semifinal match at 11 p.m. ET. The winners of each semifinal match will meet in the National Championship match on Saturday, May 5 at 10 p.m. ET in the Galen Center.

With the win Saturday, Penn State now owns an overall record of 63-3 in the EIVA Championship tournament, with a 24-3 record in the EIVA final dating back to 1986. This will be Penn State's 17th NCAA appearance under head coach Mark Pavlik and the 27th overall for the program.

Redshirt senior Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.) was named the EIVA Championship Most Outstanding Player. Redshirt senior Edgardo Goas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and freshman Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) were both named to the EIVA Championship All-Tournament Team. Joining the trio was George Mason's Andrew Dentler and Javier Perez, Princeton's Cody Kessel and Harvard's Matt Jones.

Sunder led Penn State with 15 kills, while Russell posted 11 with just one error in 17 swings for a .588 hitting percentage. Junior Tom Comfort (Orchard Park, N.Y.) and redshirt freshman Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) each added seven kills. Goas paced the offense with 44 assists and was second on the team with seven digs. Redshirt freshman Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) had a team-best 11 digs, while Russell and junior Nick Turko (Lewisberry, Pa.) put up four blocks apiece.

The Nittany Lions hit .287 against the Patriots and totaled 50 kills, nine aces, 35 digs and 11.0 total team blocks. The Patriots recorded a .193 hitting percentage with 43 kills, 10 aces, 45 digs and 9.0 team blocks.

Penn State grabbed a 6-2 lead to start the match and George Mason used an early timeout. A 3-1 run by the Patriots brought GMU within two, 7-5, but it didn't faze the Lions who worked back ahead by four, 12-8. Penn State fired back with a 7-3 run for a seven-point advantage, 19-12. George Mason called a second timeout and capitalized on two PSU errors to narrow the gap to five, 20-15. However, the Patriots managed only one additional point before two Russell aces and a joint stuff by Sunder and Turko closed out set one in PSU's favor, 25-16.

The Nittany Lions moved ahead 4-0 to start the second frame, but a 4-1 George Mason run had the Patriots within one, 5-4. A kill and ace from Sunder gave Penn State a three-point cushion, 7-4, which grew to five, 12-7, thanks to two Penn State kills and an ace from sophomore Jace Olsen (Manhattan Beach, Calif.). George Mason burned a timeout, but Penn State increased its lead to seven, 17-10, thanks to an offensive onslaught. Kvidahl sparked a 4-0 run by the Patriots with a kill to come within three, 17-14. Penn State called a timeout, but three straight Kvidahl aces had the set tied at 17-17. The Nittany Lions used its second timeout. The score tied twice more before a GMU error and a Turko ace had Penn State back on top, 21-19. George Mason headed to the bench for a final timeout, but a triple block and a Russell kill helped Penn State walk away with set two, 25-21.

The third set was close from the beginning with neither team developing the momentum to take off early. George Mason seemed to be holding a slight edge, but the set was tied at 14-14 halfway through. Despite a Russell kill, two PSU errors and a Kvidahl kill moved the Patriots into the lead, 17-15. Penn State called a timeout and knotted the score at 17 all. The score tied once more before two PSU errors and another Kvidahl ace had the Patriots in control, 21-18. Penn State called its final timeout, but was unable to slow the Patriots. Three Penn State errors and a GMU ace had the Patriots taking the third frame, 25-20.

George Mason's momentum carried over into the fourth stanza as the Patriots grabbed a 3-0 lead to start. Penn State didn't give up, but was unable to take the lead. Midway through the set the Patriots were holding on to a three-point edge, 12-9. Penn State called a timeout and kills from sunder and Goodell helped the Lions tie it up at 13-13. From there the score tied three more times before a GMU error pushed Penn State into the lead, 17-16. The Patriots called a timeout and knotted the score at 17-17. A block by Aaron Russell and sophomore Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) moved Penn State ahead by two, 19-17. The lead was short lived as two more PSU errors allowed George Mason to make it 20 all. Penn State called a timeout and Goodell pounded a kill for a 21-20 lead. The teams traded points until another Goodell kill gave Penn State the lead for good. A Russell kill and a GMU error finished the set for Penn State for a 25-22 victory.

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Last Updated April 30, 2012