Junior Aaron Russell powered the PSU offense with a match-high 16 kills on 23 perfect swings, adding two aces, four blocks and eight digs. His season-high .696 hitting clip also earned the middle hitter his third Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match honor this season.
Senior Peter Russell followed closely behind with 12 kills to go along with five digs and one block. Redshirt junior Nick Goodell added seven kills and two aces, while also leading the team with a career-high 10 digs.
Redshirt sophomore Taylor Hammond paced the squad to a .382 hitting clip, dishing out 42 assists, while also tallying four digs, a block and a kill. The Nittany Lions also limited Sacred Heart to less than .172 hitting in all three sets, holding the Pioneers to .000 and .050 attacking percentages in the second and third stanzas, respectively.
Penn State opened the match on a 5-3 streak before the Pioneers answered with a 3-0 spurt to claim a one-point advantage, 6-5. Goodell halted the momentum with a kill, but Sacred Heart responded with a 5-3 stretch to reclaim a two-point lead, 11-9. Regrouping, Peter pounded a kill to spark a 9-3 streak that pulled the Nittany Lions ahead by as many as four, 18-14.
The Pioneers looked to settle into an offensive rhythm with a kill, 18-15, but PSU followed with a 4-1 strike to build the advantage as high as six, 22-16. Sacred Heart made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a 3-1 run that trimmed the gap to four, 23-19, but Aaron connected on a kill to make it set point, 24-19. Sacred Heart fired back with a kill and a block, but Aaron locked up a 25-21 win in the opening frame with a kill.
The Nittany Lions shot out to a hot start in the second set, using a 9-4 run to construct the early advantage. The Pioneers slowed the momentum with a kill, but PSU responded with a 7-3 streak to double the lead, 16-8. Unable to shake the Pioneers, Sacred Heart used a 3-1 spurt to cut the advantage back to six, 17-11.
Surging ahead, Penn State answered with a 7-1 stretch, capped off with a kill from redshirt sophomore Matt Seifert to arrive at set-point, 24-12. The Pioneers thwarted the first attempt before Aaron sealed a 25-13 win in the second set with a kill to put Penn State up 2-1 heading into the intermission.
Following the break PSU came out of the locker room on an 8-4 streak before the Pioneers used a kill and a block to put an end to the early streak, 8-6. Using a balanced attack, the Nittany Lions answered with a 5-2 run to maintain a comfortable advantage, 13-8.
Sacred Heart managed to battle within four, 15-11, but Penn State held off the offensive pressure, and pushed ahead on a 9-3 run to arrive at set and match point, 24- 14. The Pioneers posted up for a block in attempt to hold off the momentum, but Seifert quickly locked up a 25-15 win with a kill to complete the sweep.
-PSU Athletics Communications
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