- Penn State def. Cal Baptist 3-1 (26-24, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24)
- Penn State improves to 13-7
- Cal Baptist falls to 3-17
Chris Nugent returned to smash 16 kills, leading Penn State past Cal Baptist at home Friday night.
Nugent was one of four Nittany Lions with triple-digit kills. Joining him were Calvin Mende (13), Aidan Albrecht (11) and Kevin Gear (10). Cal Baptist’s Kevin Vaz did have 15 kills on the road to lead the Lancers, who stole the third set to prevent a sweep, then very nearly pushed things into five sets late.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Chris Nugent returned to the lineup and Penn State men’s volleyball didn’t skip a beat. The Nittany Lions downed Cal Baptist in four sets to secure their 13th win of the season, improving to 2-1 in the nonconference slate.
Once again, Penn State showed its balance, as four Nittany Lions recorded double digit kills. Nugent led the group with 16, Calvin Mende chipped in 13, while Aiden Albrecht added 11 and Kevin Gear recorded 10.
“I though tonight we were tested in two ways, coming back from two nights off and getting [Nugent] back in the lineup,” Pavlik said. “I thought it would have been easy for us in games three four to just roll over, but we kept fighting and pushing and got the result we wanted.”
Sidelined for more than three weeks, Nugent returned to the court at Rec Hall with a bang. Facing their fair share of adversity during the midpoint of the season, Penn State has opted to instead, rise to the occasion, embracing a next man up mentality.
“For us it is just about being in a rhythm and I thought we were there all night,” setter Luke Braswell said. “I thought all of our hitters did a great job and because of that we were able to get a good amount of looks.”
Not only did Nugent have an impressive performance in his return, but Gear continued to make an impact in the middle, recording a match high .500 hitting percentage to go along with four blocks. Gear has been an absolute force the past two weeks, not only defensively at the net, but also offensively in the middle. With the added attack support, Penn State has been able to push past opponents in different ways the last couple of matches.
The Nittany Lions showcased what Pavlik has been talking about all season long, their ability to bounce back from adversity and win tight sets. The first set, third set and fourth set were decided by two points and the Nittany Lions took two of three from Cal Baptist to win the match.
“We kept battling and when their servers got hot, we didn’t buckle,” Nugent said. “It was a solid match for us and especially when the match got close, I think we played some of our better volleyball.”
The Nittany Lions will take on Lewis and Loyola Chicago next time out, hitting the road to begin its final stretch of nonconference action. Penn State faced both teams earlier in the season, beating Loyola in five before dropping a five setter the next night to Lewis. Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m. ET.
“Both teams are playing well and I fully expect hostile arenas,” Pavlik said. “We played them tough at our place and now we have to get on the plane and go to see them so it should be a fun one.”
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Taking a break from conference play, California Baptist University headed to the East Coast for five matches. The Lancers faced No. 13-ranked Penn State first and held their own, but fell in four (26-24, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24) Friday night.
Despite a cohesive effort, CBU drops to 3-17 on the year, while Penn State improves to 13-7.
Three Lancers finished in double-digit kills, led by Kevin Vaz with 15. Rohit Paul and Luis Palos each chipped in 10 kills.
The Lancers and Nittany Lions battled in the opening set, taking it to extra points.
Despite trailing by four late, 21-17, in the set, CBU put on a strong comeback effort and tied the frame at 22-22. The Lancers seemed determined to take over control and forced ties at 23-23 and 24-24, but Penn State managed to score back-to-back points to take the set 26-24.
The Nittany Lions carried that momentum over into the second set, grabbing a 25-16 victory to put some pressure on the Lancers heading into the third.
CBU came ready to battle and opened the set on a 2-0 spurt to take an early lead, that soon turned into a four-point cushion, 8-4. After Penn State had pulled within one, 5-4, Caleb Miller (five kills, three blocks) sparked a 3-0 run with a kill, before Vaz (three aces, four blocks) and Jackson Burge (three blocks) teamed up to block a Nittany Lion attempt at the net and the home team committed another error.
Penn State called a timeout to try to break up the Lancers’ momentum and pulled within one once again, 8-7, but CBU was determined to not let the set get out of its hands. A Nittany Lion service error gave the Lancers a sideout point, before Vaz grabbed an ace and continued to serve as Burge picked up a solo stuff and Penn State conceded an error, 12-7.
It would get tight once again down the stretch, but the Lancers were determined to keep the match going. CBU reached set point first, 24-22, forcing Penn State to call its final timeout of the set. The Nittany Lions managed to stay alive briefly, but their service at the line was too long to give the Lancers the 25-23 set win.
CBU out-hit Penn State .346 to .273 in the third, hoping to carry that into the fourth and beyond.
The Nittany Lions opened on a 4-1 run, but a Penn State service error and a solo stuff from Palos (four blocks) put the Lancers within one, 4-3. CBU continued to keep it close and chip away at the deficit until it tied the set at 11-11, before taking the lead.
Trailing 11-8, Philip Schick sparked a 6-0 spurt with three points – two kills and a combo block with Cody Jackson – while Vaz (ace) and Palos (kill) also got in on the scoring to put the Lancers in front 13-11 and force a Penn State timeout.
Penn State fought back and took back its lead, 18-17. CBU wasn’t going to throw in the towel that easily and evened the score in the next play off a Palos kill. Jackson followed with a powerful ace to put his team back in front.
It came down to the wire once again, but Penn State wouldn’t let CBU force five, taking the set 26-24 to win the match.
The Lancers continue their East Coast swing with a match at Saint Francis Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific.