No. 10 men's volleyball travels to Ball State, No. 13 IPFW

January 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 10 Penn State men's volleyball (0-2) remains on the road this week, traveling to Ball State (2-0) and No. 13 IPFW (1-2) this weekend for a pair of non-conference matchups. The Nittany Lions take on the Cardinals Friday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET, before squaring off against the Mastodons Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. ET.

Penn State looks to bounce back from a pair of losses on the road in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Outrigger Invitational. PSU lost a close five-set match to eighth-ranked UC Irvine before falling short at Hawaii, 3-0. Senior Aaron Russell earned a spot on the Outrigger Invitational All-Tournament team. He recorded back-to-back double-digit kill performances, highlighting the week with a match-high 19 kills in the five-set match against the Anteaters.

QUICK SETS
* Penn State owns the advantage in the all-time series against Ball State and IPFW, two of PSU's most frequent opponents in program history. The Nittany Lions are up 61-21 against Ball State and 42-14 against IPFW, having claimed wins against both squads in last year's 2014 home opener at Rec Hall.

* The Nittany Lions moved to No. 10 in the first AVCA DI-II Coaches Poll, after opening the season with a No. 3 ranking in the preseason poll.

* Presently, Penn State is set to square off against a total of eight teams featured in the poll, including seven teams ranked within the top 15 and one receiving votes. Having already taken on No. 9 Hawaii and No. 6 UC Irvine, the Nittany Lions have seen or will see a total of 10 teams from the poll.

* Following a 2014 season that featured Penn State men's volleyball's 16th consecutive trip the NCAA national semifinals, the Nittany Lions return a core group of nine letterwinners and five starters this year, while welcoming four freshmen to the roster.

* First team AVCA All-American senior Aaron Russell and redshirt senior Nick Goodell, both picked up 2015 Off the Block/Springbak Preseason All-America honors. Russell was selected as a First Team All-American, while Goodell earned Second Team honors. The duo are just two of 22 student-athletes to earn the honor, which is selected by a nationwide voting committee comprised of coaches from around the country.

* PSU returns almost all of its starters from a year ago, with graduating senior and 2014 All-EIVA second team honoree, Peter Russell as the only departure. Senior Aaron Russell highlights the group of returners as he closed out the 2014 season atop the team standings in almost every category. The 2014 First Team AVCA All-American also earned his second consecutive Uvaldo Acosta Memorial EIVA Player of the Year award, making him the first Nittany Lion since Joe Sunder (2011-12) to earn back-to-back conference player of the year honors.

RUSSELL EARNS OUTRIGGER ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS
Senior Aaron Russell earned a spot on the Outrigger Invitational All-Tournament team. Russell recorded back-to-back double-digit kill performances, highlighting the week with a match-high 19 kills in a close 3-2 loss to eighth-ranked UC Irvine. Against No. 10 Hawaii, he tallied 10 kills, while also leading the team with eight digs and three aces.

AVCA DI-II COACHES' POLL UPDATE: WEEK 1
Penn State moved to No. 10 in the first AVCA DI-II Coaches Poll. Presently, the Nittany Lions are set to square off a total of eight teams featured in the poll including seven teams ranked within the top 15 and one receiving votes. Having already taken on No. 9 Hawaii and No. 6 UC Irvine, the Nittany Lions have seen or will see a total of 10 teams from the poll. This week, PSU travels to No. 13 IPFW before returning home to welcome the No.1 Ramblers and No. 9 Lewis in the 2014 home opener at Rec Hall January 23-24.

PENN STATE VOTED EIVA PRESEASON FAVORITE
The 16-time defending EIVA champion Penn State men's volleyball team has been selected as the 2014 EIVA preseason favorite. The Nittany Lions were voted to capture this year's championship crown by the league's seven head coaches. Penn State received six of a possible seven first place votes in the preseason poll, while Princeton picked up one. The Tigers are slotted to finish second, while George Mason, Harvard and St. Francis (Pa.) round out the top five in spots three through five.

WHO'S BACK?
Penn State returns almost all of its starters from a year ago, with graduating senior and 2014 All-EIVA second team honoree, Peter Russell as the only departure. Senior Aaron Russell highlights the group of talented returners as he closed out the 2014 season atop the team standings in almost every category, while also ranking first nationally in aces per set (0.65). The 2014 First Team AVCA All-American also earned his second consecutive Uvaldo Acosta Memorial EIVA Player of the Year award this past season, making him the first Nittany Lion since Joe Sunder (2011-12) to earn back-to-back conference player of the year honors.

More Nittany Lion returning starters include AVCA All-America honorable mention and first team All-EIVA selection redshirt senior Nick Goodell and redshirt junior Taylor Hammond, who also earned first team All-EIVA accolades. Other returning starters include second team All-EIVA honorees redshirt senior Connor Curry and redshirt junior Matt Seifert.

FRESH FACES ON THE COURT IN 2015
The defending EIVA champion men's volleyball team returns a core group of nine letterwinners and five starters this year, while welcoming four freshmen to the roster. The new additions include 6-1 defensive specialist Royce Clemens from York, Pa., Matthew McLaren, a 6-4 outside from Aurora, Colo., Lee Smith, a 6-6 outside from Sewickley, Pa., and Parker Thompson, a 6-0 DS from State College, Pa.

RUSSELL RETURNS AS NATIONAL LEADER IN ACES PER SET
Aaron Russell continued to impress from the service line last year, as his 0.65 aces per frame closed out the season ranked No. 1 nationally. His team-high mark also led the conference. In 2013, Russell tallied 40 aces on the year, which ranks 10th all-time on the single-season record list. With 71 aces on the year in 2014, Russell set a personal best, as his mark ranked second all-time on the single season list. On the career list, his 141 aces ranks second all-time.

A complete look at where Penn State finished in the 2014 final NCAA national rankings is listed to the right. As a team, the Nittany Lions wrapped up almost every single team category in the top five, while finishing top 10 in hitting percentage.

THREE SIGN FOR 2016
Head coach Mark Pavlik has announced the addition of three future Nittany Lions who have all signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period. Joining the team at the start of the 2016 season, the Nittany Lion recruiting class features setter, Luke Braswell (Manchester, Pa.), outside hitter/opposite, Jason Donorovich (Lockport, N.Y.) and opposite, Calvin Mende (Redlands, Calif.).

WHAT'S NEXT?
Penn State returns home from the road next week to welcome a pair of teams to Rec Hall for the 2015 season home-opener. The Nittany Lions take on defending national champion No. 1 Loyola Friday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., before hosting No. 5 Lewis Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.   

 

Last Updated January 15, 2015