Men’s Volleyball No. 3/2 defeats NJIT in straight sets
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania. – Third-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball ended its 2022 regular season home schedule undefeated after a straight-set victory over NJIT (25-23, 25-19, 25-21) on Saturday night at the Rec Lobby.
Penn State (22-3, 15-0 EIVA) has now won 18 straight games, tying its longest winning streak since 2008. The Nittany Lions also wrap up the regular season slate at home with a 39-1 set tally. .
The Nittany Lions were powered by Cal Fisher and Toby Ezeonu, who both led the team with 12 kills. Fisher also ripped four aces and Ezeonu had six total blocks while hitting .733.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN
Penn State was in a physical battle against the Highlanders all night from the start. Despite an early lead for the Nittany Lions that was five at 12-7, NJIT recovered to take the late lead at 22-21.
Sam Marais managed to kill from the middle after a chaotic rally to level the score. A pair of NJIT errors followed to put Penn State at set point. On the second set point, Ezeonu’s point quickly ended the set 25-23 in favor of PSU.
The Nittany Lions won the first set despite scoring 0.241 to NJIT’s 0.346.
In Game 2, the action was again closely contested until Penn State made winning plays late in the set. After and Ezeonu alongside, Marsh stepped to the service line to help collect four more points for a key 5-0 run. Marsh hit two serves and knocked NJIT out of the system on his other serves to set the Nittany Lions up again to win the set.
Fisher finished the frame with a kill at 25-19, capping a 6-1 run at Penn State to win the second set.
It was more Nittany Lions clutch plays with the score in the 20s to come out with the third set win to clinch the game. This time, a series of three-serve runs from Fisher after the score was tied 20-20 put the Nittany Lions in control.
Fisher had an ace in the run accompanied by a big solo block from Ezeonu and an offensive error put the ball in Penn State’s court to close the game. That’s exactly what they did, with Brett Wildman and Ezeonu teaming up for an emphatic block to win the match at 25-21 in the third set and a 3-0 sweep of the Highlanders.
MIKE ANDERSON MAN OF THE MATCH
Cal Fisher the speed and prowess of service were there on Saturday evening. His 12 kills came at crucial times for the Nittany Lions and his four aces, along with several other good serves that knocked the NJIT out of the system, helped put Penn State on top.
MATCH RATINGS AND STATS
- Penn State’s 18-game winning streak is the longest since the 2008 season, which also had 18 games. Penn State’s program winning streak is 24 in the 1997 season.
- Toby Ezeonu the strike percentage for the season now sits at .548 at 3.27 kills per set this season. That mark would tie for third in Penn State history with Max Holt’s .548 hit percentage in 2008 (4.91 kills per set).
- Fisher ranks third in Penn State history with 140 service aces, behind only Aaron Russell (198) and Holt (207).
- Penn State’s 15-0 EIVA record is currently its most undefeated league wins in team history. Penn State had 16 wins (16-2 record) during the 2021 season, which featured an adjusted EIVA schedule due to COVID-19.
Penn State concludes the 2022 regular season with a road game in Charleston on Friday, April 15, before hosting the EIVA tournament from April 20-23. The Nittany Lions will start the tournament in the semifinals with a bye as the league’s top seed. This match will take place on April 21 at 7 p.m.