Men's volleyball wins EIVA tournament championship

April 25, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Behind clutch and powerful performances from pin hitters Cal Fisher and Brett Wildman, the No. 8 Penn State men's volleyball team clinched its 32nd EIVA Tournament championship with a 3-1 win over No. 13 George Mason Saturday evening at Rec Hall.

Penn State (21-3) clinched its first conference crown and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2017 with the win.

"Having been around for four decades of Penn State-George Mason play, this was a match a match that both sets of alums would say, 'Yep! This is the way its supposed to be!'" said head coach Mark Pavlik. "I can't believe the effort that was put a part by both teams tonight. It was a great match to be a part of.

"I think it came down to the team that 'streaked clean' last would win…[Cal Fisher] put on his superman cape and carried us for that final stretch run there. I'm really proud of these guys. Our work is not over. We're looking forward to playing a national championship that all of men's volleyball missed for the last 15 months."

Fisher turned in a heroic individual performance with a career-best 27 kills while still hitting .440 on 50 total attempts. He also had eight digs and a block. For his efforts, he was named the EIVA tournament MVP.

On the other side for the Nittany Lions, Wildman also turned in an outstanding performance with 22 kills at .333 to go with four aces and three blocks. The Fisher-Wildman duo combined for 49 of Penn State's 59 kills on the night.

Setter Cole Bogner had 50 assists and seven digs and joined Fisher and Wildman on the All-Tournament Team.

Penn State gained its footing early in the first set, leading 9-3 after a Fisher kill and a Mason error, but the Patriots clawed their way back to within one at 16-15 with a steady dose of points.

The Nittany Lions immediately responded with three of the next four points to widen the margin by a bit. The run included an ace by Wildman and another Fisher kill. Wildman strung together back-to-back kills to bring up match point for the Nittany Lions and a Mason error gave Penn State the game one win 25-20.

Set two started as a back-and-forth battle of two explosive teams. A block by George Mason put them Patriots in front 15-14, but Fisher knotted the score with his then-11th kill and Wildman blasted two aces to force a Mason timeout at 17-15.

A 4-1 spurt with a Bogner and Tuman block, another monstrous back-row swing from Wildman, and a Kowal ace forced Mason into another timeout with PSU leading 22-18. Penn State kept Mason at bay from there, winning the set 25-20 for the second-straight frame.

The third game was tilting Mason's way after block gave them a three-point lead at 18-15, but Penn State eventually erased and retook the advantage after three points in a row by Fisher and Wildman.

George Mason eventually earned the first set point at 25-24, but the action drew out into a long-extended set, featuring five set points for the Patriots and three match points for the Nittany Lions. After thwarting Penn State's third championship point, Mason scored three points in a row to win the frame 32-30 and extend the match.

After the marathon third set, Penn State settled in and gathered points in small bunches in the fourth. A three-point run put Penn State in front 8-5 and the Nittany Lions never gave up that advantage. Another three-point spurt capped by a Fisher ace extended the lead further and Penn State eventually built the lead to as high as five.

After Mason stopped the Nittany Lions' first match-point try in the fourth frame, Wildman put down the final kill of the night to give Penn State a third 25-20 set win and the 3-1 match victory.

Penn State will face Belmont Abbey at 5 p.m. on May 3 at Ohio State's Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last Updated April 26, 2021