Men's volleyball advances to EIVA Championship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Top-seeded No. 12 Penn State men's volleyball (23-6) rallied from behind by one set to defeat No. 4 seed George Mason (14-14) in four sets (25-27, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22) Thursday evening in the EIVA semifinals. With the victory, the Nittany Lions advance to the 2014 EIVA Championship match, where they square off against third-seeded Princeton Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall for the conference crown.

Junior Aaron Russell led the offense with a match-high 20 kills, marking his fourth match of the season with at least 20 kills. He also tallied eight digs and three blocks. Redshirt junior Nick Goodell logged 17 kills and five digs, while senior Peter Russell totaled 12 kills and six digs to round out the group of double-digit performers. Redshirt sophomore Matt Seifertcontributed eight kills on nine swings, recording a squad-best .778 hitting clip and two aces.

Redshirt freshman Matt Callaway led the blocking unit with a team-high four blocks, while redshirt junior Connor Curry notched a match-high 13 digs. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Hammonddished out 53 assists, pacing the square to a .279 hitting percentage, while also posting six digs and one block.

George Mason opened the match on a 4-1 run before the Nittany Lions cut off the surge with a 3-1 spurt, narrowing the gap to one, 5-4. A service error halted the momentum, but Penn State continued to battle, using a 4-2 stretch to tie the frame, 8-8. The Patriots looked to pull away with a kill, 9-8, but a kill from Seifert sparked a 3-0 strike that pushed Penn State ahead by two, 11-9, forcing George Mason to call a timeout.

The Patriots came out of the break on a 5-2 run to take over a one-point advantage, 14-13. Penn State followed with three unanswered points to go back up by two, 16-14, but GMU responded with a 4-2 stretch to keep the stanza knotted, 18-all. A kill from Peter and an ace from Seifert pushed Penn State ahead by two, 20-18, but the Nittany Lions couldn't shake George Mason as the Patriots answered with a 4-2 burst to tie the score, 22-22.

Aaron pounded a kill to give Penn State a one-point edge, 23-22, but a kill and a block from GMU put the Patriots back up by one, 24-23. Aaron and Goodell kept the Nittany Lions alive with back-to-back kills, but a George Mason kill made it 25-all. Penn State couldn't finish off the Patriots as PSU attack error and a George Mason kill off an overpass secured set one, 27-25.

After battling back-and-forth for most of the opening portion of set two, Penn State broke open an 11-all tie with a kill from Callaway and a GMU error to go up by two, 13-11. The Patriots followed with three unanswered points to jump back on top, forcing Penn State to call a timeout.

The two teams continued to trade the lead out of the break before Penn State cracked open a 17-all tie with a 3-0 streak capped off by kills from Goodell and Peter to give the Nittany Lions a three-point lead, 20-17. A service error temporarily broke up the rhythm, but Penn State regrouped with 5-2 run to arrive at set point, 24-20. The Patriots held off one attempt before Aaron put away a 25-21 win in the second set to even the match, 1-1.

Penn State shot out to a 5-2 start in the third set to build an early advantage. The Patriots put an end to the momentum with a kill, but Penn State continued the balanced attack, using a 4-0 streak to go up by six, 9-3. A GMU kill and a Penn State error trimmed the Nittany Lion lead back to four, 9-5, but Penn State used an 8-5 stretch to go up by as many as eight, 17-9.

Later in the frame, George Mason managed to shave the lead back to five, 20-15, but the Nittany Lions used a 3-1 spurt to remain on top, 23-16. Using a kill and a solo stuff, the Patriots looked for one final attempt to make a comeback, but Aaron and Seifert paired up for consecutive kills to seal a 25-18 win in the third set.

Keeping it tight in the fourth set, the two teams fought to a 10-all tie before the Patriots used a 4-1 streak to go up by three, 14-11, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Peter, Aaron and Nick sparked a 5-1 run with three straight kills out of the break, lifting Penn State ahead by one, 16-15. A GMU kill tied the score at 16-all, but Penn State followed with a 3-1 strike for a two-point cushion, 19-17.

George Mason came storming back with three unanswered points to take control of the lead, 20-19. Recovering, Penn State responded with a 4-1 run capped off by a pair of Penn State blocks to take back the lead, 23-21. The Patriots looked to halt the momentum with a kill, but a service error and a kill from Aaron locked up the win.

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Last Updated June 20, 2014