No. 7 men's volleyball heads to Princeton, NJIT

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 7 Penn State men's volleyball (15-9, 9-0) hits the road this week, traveling to Princeton (9-10, 5-4) and NJIT (9-11, 2-7) for two of its final three regular-season matches. The Nittany Lions take on the Tigers Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m. before squaring off against the Highlanders Saturday, April 18 at 3 p.m.

The Nittany Lions clinched their 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title in program history last weekend with a pair of wins against Harvard and Sacred Heart. The two wins lifted Penn State to a perfect 9-0 in EIVA conference play, while also guaranteeing the Nittany Lions the No. 1 seed and home court advantage for the upcoming EIVA Championship April 29 and May 1.

PSU also stretched its winning streak to 11 consecutive matches, outlasting Harvard in five sets and taking down Sacred Heart the next afternoon in four sets. The two wins closes out a series sweep for Penn State against both EIVA opponents.

QUICK SETS
* The Nittany Lions own a 52-3 advantage in the all-time series against the Tigers. Earlier this season, PSU swept past Princeton at home, behind double figure kills from senior Aaron Russell and redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose.

* PSU holds a 35-1 lead in the all-time series against NJIT, having held off the Highlanders in five sets earlier this season at home in Rec Hall. Both Aaron Russell and Jalen Penrose contributed 20-plus kill performances, led by 26 kills from Russell.

* Penn State remains solid a No. 7 in the latest AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll for the third straight week. PSU has been in the top 15 the last six consecutive weeks since spending a month receiving votes.

* In his 21st year at the helm of the program, head coach Mark Pavlik has amassed 497 career victories. His all-time mark puts him just three shy of 500 career-wins.

* Penn State is still slotted sixth in the fourth release of the RPI ranking. The Nittany Lions are one of two EIVA teams represented in the RPI top 20, along with George Mason, who is presently ranked 20th.

* Penn State is ranked among the top 10 nationally in kills per set, averaging 12.85, which is slated seventh in the country and leads the EIVA. Senior Aaron Russell's contributing a team-high 4.64 kills per set, which ranks second in the nation and first in the league.

* PSU is ranked in the top 15 nationally in digs per set, averaging 9.55, which is slotted 11th in the nation and second in the EIVA. Redshirt senior Connor Curry's leading the way with a team-high 2.41 digs per frame, which ranks eighth in the nation and first in the league.

PENN STATE AND THIS WEEKEND'S COMPETITION: LAST TIME OUT
Penn State men's volleyball captured a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-23) win against Princeton in the first meeting between the two teams this season before moving on to outlast NJIT in five sets (27-29, 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13) the next night at Rec Hall.

Against the Tigers, Russell and redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose led the Nittany Lion offense with double-figure kills. Russell notched a team-high 12 kills to go along with three aces, three digs and two blocks. Penrose was close behind with 10 kills on .571 hitting. Against the Highlanders, Russell led the offense with 26 kills on .362 hitting, adding a match-high 15 digs for his third double-double of the season. Penrose logged a career-high 21 kills on a .308 hitting clip, while also tallying five digs and three blocks.

1,000 CAREER KILLS AND COUNTING
Both Aaron Russell and Nick Goodell are ranked among the top five in the NCAA DI active career leaders in kills. Russell leads the duo with 1,418 career kills which ranks first in DI and is the third-most among all three divisions. Goodell is ranked sixth in DI with 1,075 career kills. Russell and Goodell are also two of only nine active NCAA DI players to reach the 1,000 career kills plateau in their career.

SERVING UP A STORM!
With 183 career aces, senior Aaron Russell leads all active NCAA players with the most aces. On the Penn State record list, he's ranked second all-time and needs 24 more aces to match Max Holt (2006-09). On the year, Russell is averaging 0.53 aces per set, which ranks fourth nationally and second in the EIVA standings.

EXPERIENCED VETERANS ON THE COURT
Senior Aaron Russell and redshirt senior Connor Curry are leading all active DI players with the most career appearances on the court. Curry's 116 matches ranks first, while Russell's 114 matches ranks second.

MAKING AN IMPACT
Earlier this season, sophomore Chris Nugent highlighted the weekend with a pair of career high performances. In his first career start against Mount Olive, Nugent led the offense with a match-high 16 kills on .500 hitting, adding three aces, five digs and two blocks to earn Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match honors. The next night, he set another career-high mark with a match-high seven aces against Saint Francis. Against Erskine, he tied for first on the team with 12 kills, while also adding two aces and a career-high five blocks. Since earning his first start, he's ranked fourth on the team with 2.28 kills per set and second in aces per set (0.32) with 22 on the year, which ranks seventh in the EIVA.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose had a career weekend at the Asics Invitational and has continued his stellar play since earning a spot in the starting lineup. He highlighted the event with nine kills, eight digs, four aces and three blocks at No. 8 Long Beach State. He finished second on the team with six kills and six digs the night before against CSUN, adding six digs and three blocks. Penrose logged 19 kills on .230 hitting against No. 11 Ohio State, before registering a career-high 21 kills against NJIT. He's currently ranked third on the team with 2.38 kills per set, having recorded double figures in five of his last six outings on the court.

AVCA DI-II COACHES' POLL UPDATE: APRIL 6
Penn State remained solid a No. 7 in the latest AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll for the third straight week. PSU has been in the top 15 the last six consecutive weeks since spending a month receiving votes. The Nittany Lions have now seen or will see a total of nine teams from the top 15 at some point during the regular season.

PAVLIK NEARING CAREER MILESTONE
In his 21st year at the helm of the program, head coach Mark Pavlik has amassed 497 career victories. His all-time mark puts him just three shy of 500 career-wins. Pavlik is on track to reach the mark in the regular season finale at Saint Francis (Pa.) March 25th.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Penn State remains on the road, traveling to in-state EIVA foe Saint Francis to close out the 2015 regular season. First serve between the Nittany Lions and the Red Flash is set for 4 p.m. in Loretto, Pa.   

Last Updated April 16, 2015