Mens VB vs Daemen - team post game

The Penn State men's volleyball team celebrates together after sweeping Daemen on Friday, Jan. 13, 2022 at the Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. Penn State won 3-0. 

Tensions were high in Rec Hall on Saturday night, as Penn State faced Princeton in the EIVA championship match. In last year’s semifinal match, the Tigers defeated the Nittany Lions 3-2 en route to the conference title, ending Penn State’s year in the process.

After a disappointing loss in 2022, Penn State brought back the win with intense strength in a 3-0 sweep.

Setter Cole Bogner said that Saturday night’s win was something the team always had in the back of their mind this season.

“It was always lying in the back of our heads, but we tried to never keep it, like, something that we always thought about,” Bogner said. “[Last year’s loss] happened, and everybody knows it happened, but we never wanted to have that as our main drive.”

Coach Mark Pavlik was confident in what the team has been able to do all season long.

“I think all week long, we just asked the guys to be who they are,” Pavlik said. “We’re a pretty good team. And I think that we didn’t need to try to do things harder, faster, better. I think we just needed to embrace the competition we had.”

The blue and white’s supporters did not disappoint, with incredibly loud cheering being heard from every side of the court.

The score was close opening up the first set, with Penn State having an edge of a couple more points than Princeton. It was evident that both teams were bringing their best effort.

After an electric kill made by redshirt senior Cal Fisher, the Tigers went into the first timeout of the match. The opposite hitter also reached the milestone of 1000 career kills at Thursday’s match against George Mason, greatly assisting the team in its advancement to the championship match.

From having a two-point advantage against Princeton to a score of 19-11, it was clear that the Nittany Lions went into the match with the plan to bring back the EIVA trophy back home.

After strong offensive power for the majority of the set, the Tigers were struggling to pick up what the blue and white was dishing out. The set ended with a score of 25-14 with a kill being made by junior outside hitter Michal Kowal.

Opening the second set, Princeton seemed to have a plan for how to handle Penn State’s offense by bringing in a strong defensive team. While outside hitter Brett Wildman made an attack attempt, a triple block from the Tigers stopped the graduate student.

While Princeton brought out some energy at the beginning, the Nittany Lions were able to stop the Tigers quickly and even out the score.

Penn State Men's Volleyball vs. Charleston (WV), Cal Fisher

Penn State opposite hitter Cal Fisher (19) hits the ball during the Men's Volleyball game against Charleston (WV) in the South Gym at Rec Hall on Friday, April 14, 2023 in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions won 3-0.

With more power being focused into its blocking, Princeton was beginning to put the blue and white in its place, refusing more kills compared to the previous set.

Regardless of the Tigers bringing more defensive attack, Penn State was still able to maintain a comfortable lead ahead of them. At 15-10, Princeton called its first timeout of the second set.

This timeout did not deter the Nittany Lions from their goal, as they continued to score at a faster rate compared to the Tigers.

In the final stretch towards the end of the second set, the blue and white was able to set itself apart from Princeton greatly, maintaining a four-point or greater lead against the Tigers.

Before the set point, Penn State was also bringing in defensive power when needed with a triple block at one point from Wildman, Fisher and sophomore middle blocker Owen Rose.

A Wildman kill brought the Nittany Lions one set closer to regaining the EIVA Championship title.

Setting the tone for the third set, Wildman made an intense kill, ricocheting off of Princeton senior libero Nico Posivak.

As it did in the previous set, the blue and white distanced itself quickly from the Tigers.

The rallies during the third set were fierce, with Penn State fighting for the win and Princeton fighting to stay in the match.

Because of this, the Tigers, at one point, had tied up the score late in the set. Princeton was not going to go down without a fight.

With the two teams tied at 20, the crowd was bringing a necessary energy to Rec Hall in hopes of carrying the Nittany Lions to the tournament win.

The blue and white was able to pull ahead by the end of the set, and the energy in the crowd before the match point was full of excitement.

After a kill made by graduate student middle blocker Sam Marsh bounced off of Princeton outside hitter Ben Harrington and into the crowd, the win was solidified.

After not winning last year, Pavlik described how it felt to have another win under his belt in a way a coach would.

“It’s always great to be the champion,” Pavlik said. “Good to be the king. And I think the guys wear the crown pretty well.”

Moving forward, Penn State has one final tournament of the postseason, being the NCAA Tournament starting on Sunday, April 30 in Fairfax, Va.

Wildman said that the team already has a game plan for how to come down after this victory and head into another tournament.

“Enjoy it for kind of like the rest of tonight and tomorrow, and then as soon as we get on in the gym on Monday, it’s kind of heads forward onto NCAA’s,” Wildman said. “You want to enjoy your successes, but there’s still more in front of us.”



If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

Shannon Tanczos is a men's volleyball reporter for The Daily Collegian. She is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in sports studies.