Offensive onslaught powers Nittany Lions to EIVA title match

April 18, 2019

PRINCETON, N.J. – The Penn State men's volleyball team put together one of its most impressive performances of the season Thursday evening to take down George Mason in five sets 3-2 (25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-9) and advance to the EIVA championship game.

With the win, the Nittany Lions improved to 15-14 on the season and downed the Patriots (17-9) for the first time in three tries this year.

Penn State will face Princeton in the title match after the Tigers took down Saint Francis in straight sets in the second semifinal.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Nittany Lions set the tone early on with a quick three-point lead at 7-4 thanks to a Jason Donorovich kill. The Nittany Lions had a furious attack in the first set and extended their lead to has high as 15-8. George Mason brought it back to a three-point game at 20-17, but Penn State continued to be aggressive offensively and closed the set 25-22.

Penn State had one of its best offensive sets of the season in the first set with a .556 hitting percentage and 18 kills on just 27 attacks.

Another quick start by the Nittany Lions in the second set gave them an 8-5 edge early, but the Patriots closed the gap much quicker with four of the next five to tie the score. The set was locked within a point or two most of the frame after that.

George Mason would take the lead in the set at 18-17 despite four aces in the set from the Nittany Lions. The Patriots edged Penn State by two from then on out, taking the set 25-23. 

The third stanza was all Nittany Lions early on as Penn State sped out to a 6-1 lead on a Donorovich service ace. With Penn State leading 11-4, Cole Bogner made a sliding save in front of the Penn State bench to keep the play alive and the Nittany Lions ended taking the point on a GMU error.

George Mason pulled within five at 15-10, but Penn State didn't let the Patriots get any closer by scoring the next three in a row. Penn State scored five of the last seven points in the frame to close the set.

The Patriots flipped the script in the fourth set by taking the lead in the opening rallies. A kill by Hayden Wagner gave Mason an 8-5 advantage which quickly built into a 15-9 point later after a five-point Patriot run.

Penn State held off four set points before George Mason finally closed out the set to force a fifth and deciding game.

The Nittany Lions had only two five-set matches under their belt entering tonight's game that both ended in losses, but they didn't let that scare them in this match. A pair of three-point spurts gave Penn State a 7-3 advantage in the third.

Brett Wildman powered the Nittany Lions with five kills in the final set and closed the match with his 22nd kill. Penn State hit .533 (10-2-15) in the fifth and while also recording a pair of aces, a block, and held George Mason to a .143 clip in the frame.  

Last Updated April 18, 2019