No. 7 men's volleyball concludes regular season slate

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 7 Penn State men's volleyball (17-9, 11-0) heads to Saint Francis (6-19, 4-7) this weekend to close out the 2015 regular season slate. First serve between the Nittany Lions and the Red Flash is set for 4 p.m. in Degol Arena.

Last weekend, Penn State stretched its winning streak to 13 straight, topping both Princeton and NJIT on the road to remain undefeated in EIVA action at 11-0.

The Nittany Lions opened the weekend with a four-set victory at Princeton before taking down NJIT in three sets to close out a series sweep against both teams this season. Since joining the EIVA/ECVL in 1986, Penn State has surrendered just 11 matches to a conference team during the regular season.

QUICK SETS
* The Nittany Lions clinched their 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title in program history two weeks ago with a pair of wins against Harvard and Sacred Heart. The two wins guarantee the Nittany Lions the No. 1 seed and home court advantage for the upcoming EIVA Championship April 29 and May 1.

* Head coach Mark Pavlik enters Saturday's matchup with 499 career wins after a 2-0 week last weekend. He's poised to reach the 500 career wins milestone with a victory at Saint Francis.

* The Nittany Lions hold an unblemished 35-0 mark in the all-time series against the Red Flash. The series stretches back to 1995, when the two teams first met in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass. Within the last 10 years, the Nittany Lions have dropped just seven sets to Saint Francis, winning the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season.

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

* 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.

* 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 4.63 kills per set, which ranks second in the nation and first in the league. He's reached double figure kills in all but two matches this season.

* PSU is ranked in the top 15 nationally in digs per set, averaging 9.58, which is slotted 11th in the nation and second in the EIVA.

* Redshirt senior Connor Curry's leading the way with a team-high 2.50 digs per frame, which ranks seventh in the nation and first in the league. Curry's 1,006 digs also ranks second all-time on the Penn State career record list.

PAVLIK NEARING A CAREER MILESTONE
In his 21st year at the helm of the program, head coach Mark Pavlik has amassed 499 career victories. His all-time mark puts him one victory shy of 500 career-wins. A win against Saint Francis in this weekend's EIVA regular season finale would clinch the milestone for Pavlik.

SAINT FRANCIS: LAST TIME OUT
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (Jan. 31, 2015) - Penn State swept past Saint Francis in straight sets (25-18, 25-18, 25-18) in the 2015 EIVA opener at home in Rec Hall earlier this season. Senior Aaron Russell fueled the offense with 17 kills on .625 hitting, adding three digs and a team-high three blocks for Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match honors.

Redshirt senior Nick Goodell finished second on the team with seven kills, while sophomore Chris Nugent tallied six. Nugent impressed from the service line with a career-high seven aces. Redshirt senior Connor Curry led the defensive effort with a match-high 11 digs. Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond passed out 33 assists, guiding the team to a .300 hitting percentage.

Redshirt freshman Aidan Albrecht made his collegiate debut, posting two kills, two blocks and one dig in his first start in the Blue and White.

AVCA DI-II COACHES' POLL UPDATE: APRIL 20
Penn State remained solid a No. 7 in the latest AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll for the third straight week. Penn State 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.

1,000 CAREER KILLS CLUB
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 1,449 career kills which ranks first in DI and is the third-most among all three divisions. Goodell is ranked sixth in DI with 1,096 career kills. Russell and Goodell are also two of only 10 active NCAA DI players to reach the 1,000 career kills plateau in their career.

A FORCE FROM THE SERVICE LINE
With 187 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 20 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 118 matches ranks first, while Russell's 116 matches ranks second. Additionally, Curry's 1,006 career digs rank second on the Penn State all-time list, behind Dennis Del Valle's 1,260 digs (2008-11). The duo are the only two to amass 1,000 or more kills in their Nittany Lion careers.

STEPPING UP!
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 25 on the year, which ranks eighth in the EIVA.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose had a career weekend at the Asics Invitational and has continued his stellar play since his debut. 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 seven outings on the court.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Next up, Penn State will host the 2015 EIVA Championships for the 18th consecutive year April 29 - May 1, after earning its 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title. PSU will be the No. 1 overall seed in the field with Harvard, Princeton and George Mason. Penn State will host the annual event for the 17th consecutive year.

 

Last Updated April 24, 2015