Men's volleyball named EIVA preseason favorite

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The defending EVIA champion Penn State men's volleyball team has been picked as the preseason favorite in the 2014 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) preseason poll. The Nittany Lions received seven of eight first-place votes from the league's eight head coaches. Penn State also earned the No. 1 preseason EIVA ranking heading into the 2013 season.

Princeton was picked to finish second in the league, earning one first-place vote, while Harvard and George Mason were slotted as the No. 3 and No. 4 schools, respectively. St. Francis, NJIT, Sacred Heart and Rutgers-Newark rounded out the remaining positions, claiming spots five through eight.

With the departure of five seniors last season, the Nittany Lions return a core group of 11 letterwinners and five starters this year, while also welcoming five freshmen to the roster. With just one senior returning, the Nittany Lions will look for contributions from veteran upperclassmen as well as the fresh faces on the court.

Peter and Aaron Russell are two top returners, as the duo combined for a hefty amount of offensive production last year, led by Aaron, the 2014 Off the Block/Springbak Inc. Preseason Frist Team All-American, who closed out 2013 averaging 3.59 kills per set. Peter followed closely behind, with 2.77 per frame. Redshirt sophomore Matt Seifert led the blocking unit during the 2013 season, registering 77 total blocks, including 10 solo blocks.

Penn State also returns setter Taylor Hammond, who paced the offense to a .287 hitting percentage in 2013, dishing out 10.95 assists per set, while also registering 1.09 digs per frame. Hammond was recently placed on the 2014 Lloy Ball Award watch list, which is an annual award presented by Off the Block, to the nation's best setter in NCAA Division I-II men's volleyball during the regular season. Hammond is one of 16 student-athletes from around the nation to earn a spot on the list. The winner will be selected at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season by a nationwide voting committee, made up of coaches and members of the media.

Nittany Lions open the season making their 19th appearance in the Outrigger Invitational, one of the most prestigious early tournaments, hosted by Hawaii. While in Honolulu, Penn State will square off against UCLA, Thursday, Jan. 19th, before taking on tournament host Hawaii, Friday, Jan. 10th. PSU concludes the event with a match against Ohio State, Saturday, Jan. 11th.

Penn State men's volleyball is on Facebook and Twitter! Fans can follow the Nittany Lions @PennStateMVBALL or online at


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Last Updated December 13, 2013