No. 8 men's volleyball hosts Princeton, NJIT

March 26, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 8 Penn State men's volleyball (10-9, 4-0) puts its six-match winning streak on the line this weekend, welcoming Princeton (8-7, 4-1) and NJIT (7-8, 0-5) to the court at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions host the Tigers Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m. before taking on the Highlanders Saturday, March 28 at 4 p.m. Both matches are set to take place in south gym.

QUICK SETS
* Penn State went 1-0 last week, earning a five-set victory against the Buckeyes. Senior Aaron Russell led the Lions with 30 kills and 14 digs, while redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose added a career-high 19 kills. Redshirt senior Connor Curry rounded out the defense with 12 digs.

* The Nittany Lions are 51-3 in the all-time series against Princeton having posted a 2-1 record against the Tigers last year. Penn State holds a 34-1 advantage in the all-time series against NJIT, having captured 3-0 wins in both outings a year ago.

* After guiding Penn State men's volleyball to its sixth consecutive win last week, senior Aaron Russell earned his second consecutive EIVA Offensive Player of the Week award. He's earned the honor three times this season.

* Penn State moved up two spots to No. 8 in the latest AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll after spending a week at No. 10. PSU has been in the top 15 the last three 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.

* PSU is slotted sixth in the first release of the RPI ranking. The Nittany Lions are the only EIVA team represented in the RPI top 20, with Harvard (21), George Mason (24), Princeton (25) Saint Francis (26), Sacred Heart (30) and NJIT (35) all coming in behind Penn State.

* Following a 3-0 spring break trip that featured a pair of wins against two top 10 teams, Penn State swept the EIVA Weekly Awards. Senior Aaron Russell was selected as the conference's Offensive Player of the Week, while redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway was named the Defensive Player of the Week.

* Penn State is ranked among the top 10 nationally in kills per set, averaging 12.97, which is slated seventh in the country and leads the EIVA. Senior Aaron Russell's contributing a team-high 4.72 kills per set, which ranks second in the nation and first in the league.

* PSU is ranked among the top five nationally in digs per set, averaging 9.74, which is slotted fifth in the nation and leads the EIVA. Redshirt senior Connor Curry's leading the way with a team-high 2.49 digs per frame, which ranks eighth in the nation and first in the league.

* 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 1,331 career kills which ranks first in DI and is the third-most among all three divisions. Goodell is ranked fifth with 1,058 career kills. Russell and Goodell are two of only six active NCAA DI players to reach 1,000 career kills

RUSSELL EARNS SECOND STRAIGHT EIVA OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOD
After guiding Penn State men's volleyball to its sixth consecutive win last week, senior Aaron Russell has been named the EIVA Offensive Player of the Week, as announced by the conference this morning. The honor is the second consecutive for Russell, who has collected the award a total of three times this season. He led the team with his second 30-kill performance of the season against the Buckeyes, totaling a match-high 30 kills on .458 hitting. He added 14 digs for his second double-double of the season to go along with three blocks and two aces.

PENN STATE SWEEPS EIVA WEEKLY AWARDS
Following a 3-0 week on the road that featured a pair of wins against two top 10 teams, Penn State swept the EIVA Weekly Awards. Senior Aaron Russell was selected as the conference's Offensive Player of the Week, while redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway was named the Defensive Player of the Week.

Russell guided PSU to a 3-0 victory at No. 7 USC with 20 kills, hitting .720 with two errors on 25 swings. Against Cal State Northridge, he recorded his first double-double of the season with 16 kills and 10 digs. He capped off the week with 19 kills in a straight set win against No. 8 LBSU with a team-high 19 kills to go along with Asics Invitational MVP honors.

Callaway led the team with 1.44 blocks per set during the week, totaling 13 blocks in the trio of wins. He highlighted the weekend with a career-high seven blocks in the win against the eighth-ranked 49ers. Offensively, he put down 13 kills on .458 hitting on the week. Callaway was also selected to the Asics Invitational All-Tournament team.

RUSSELL NAMED AVCA/SPORTS IMPORTS DI-II NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior Aaron Russell earned AVCA Sports Imports DI-II National Player of the Week honors after leading PSU to an undefeated spring break trip with wins at No. 7 USC, CSUN and No. 8 LBSU. The honor is the first of Russell's career and the 15th time a Nittany Lion has been selected for the weekly award. Russell is the first Nittany Lion to earn the award since Joe Sunder was tabbed Player of the Week in 2011.

THREE EARN ASICS INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS
Three Nittany Lions earned Asics Invitational All-Tournament team honors after Penn State knocked off No. 8 Long Beach State to capture the event title. Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond and redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway earned Asics Invitational All-Tournament team honors, while senior Aaron Russell was named the Most Valuable Player.

Callaway led the team with 10 total blocks across both matches, matching a career-high mark with seven against the 49ers. Hammond set the team to a .244 hitting percentage, averaging 12.33 assists per set. Russell amassed 35 kills against both teams, highlighting the weekend with 19 kills on .414 hitting at LBSU.

AVCA DI-II COACHES' POLL UPDATE: MARCH 23
Penn State moved up two spots to No. 8 in the latest AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll after spending a week at No. 10. PSU has been in the top 15 the last three 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 APPROACHING CAREER MARK
In his 21st year at the helm of the program, head coach Mark Pavlik has amassed 492 career victories. His all-time mark puts him just eight shy of 500 career-wins. Pavlik is on track to reach the mark in the regular season finale at Saint Francis (Pa.) March 25th.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND'S OPPONENTS
The Nittany Lions are 51-3 in the all-time series against Princeton having posted a 2-1 record against the Tigers last year. PSU lost the first meeting in 2014 on the road in five before rebounding to sweep the Tigers at home. Penn State also defeated Princeton in the 2014 EIVA finals to take home the conference tournament crown. Penn State holds a 34-1 advantage in the all-time series against NJIT, having captured 3-0 wins in both outings a year ago. The Nittany Lions have won the last 19 consecutive matches against the Highlanders.

Last Updated March 26, 2015