UNIVERESITY PARK, Pa. -- In four seasons on the court for the Penn State men's volleyball program, seniors Aidan Albrecht (Old Bridge, N.J.), Kevin Gear (Rochester, N.Y.) and Jalen Penrose (Cambridge, Mass.) amassed a 46 victories at the Recreation Building, including a 3-1 win over NJIT (21-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19) on Saturday (April 14) evening to close out the regular season.
Albrecht, Gear and Penrose owned a 46-15 overall mark at home and boasted a 45-9 record in EIVA play during their careers. The trio helped the Nittany Lions to four-straight double-digit win seasons in EIVA play, winning three regular season titles and a pair of tournament crowns.
On Saturday, it was Albrecht -- the Mike Anderson Man of the Match -- that lead the way, posting a match-high 14 kills on 25 swings. With just four attacking errors, Albrecht hit .400 for the match and added five digs and one block in the match.
Gear hit a perfect 1.000 for the match, finding the floor on all six swings, while adding two digs and two blocks.
Redshirt-sophomore Calvin Mende (Redlands, Calif.) also reached double-digits in the kill column, posting 11 successful swings to go along with a match-high seven digs. The match-high digs total gave Mende his third career match leading the Blue and White in the category.
The remainder of the Penn State attack came from the trio of Luke Braswell (Manchester, Pa.), Jason Donorovich (Lockport, N.Y.) and Matthew McLaren (Arora, Colo.). Braswell had one kills, Donorovich added five and McLaren posted seven successful attacks.
On the team ledger, NJIT owned the edge in kills (45-44) and blocks (7.5-5.5), while each team committed 18 attacking errors. The difference came at the service line, where Penn State had the advantage in service aces (5-4) and NJIT committed 28 service errors to only 15 for Penn State.
The NJIT trio of Piotr Namiotko (12 kills), Alvaro Gimeno (10 kills) and Luca Berger (10 kills) all reached double-digits in kills on the night. Berger added a match-high five blocks.
- OH Aidan Albrecht -- Boasted a match-high 14 kills on 25 swings and hit .400 for the match. Added five digs and one block.
- OPP Calvin Mende -- Posted 11 kills and a match-high seven digs. Added two blocks.
- OH Matthew McLaren -- Notched seven kills on 17 swings. Added six digs and two service aces.
- S Luke Braswell -- Handed out 37 assists. Added two digs, one block, one kill and one service ace.
- OPP Piotr Namiotko -- Posted 12 kills and six digs to lead the team in both categories.
- MB Luca Berger -- Had two kills and a match-high five blocks.
- OPP Alvaro Gimeno -- Registered 10 kills with five digs and three blocks.
- Service Woes -- NJIT committed 28 service errors on the night.
NJIT grabbed an early 2-0 lead and held the two-point cushion up to 6-4, when Penn State reeled off three-straight points to grab a 7-6 edge. The Nittany Lions pushed their lead to two points, 9-7, on a kill from Donorovich and a combo block from Donorovich and Mende. The Highlanders scored nine of the next 12 points, however, to grab a 16-12 lead. A timeout by Penn State sparked a three-point run with kills from Albrecht and Mende, and a McLaren service ace to pull Penn State within one, 16-15. That would be the closest the Blue and White would get, as NJIT scored four of the next five points (20-16) and eventually claimed the opening set 25-21. Albrecht had four kills for Penn State in the opening set, as Penn State hit .318 (11-4-22).
NJIT 25, at Penn State 21
NJIT leads 1-0
The second set mirrored the first, but it was Penn State that had the decisive spurt to push it into a lead that would be too much for NJIT. The Highlanders had the early momentum, opening up a 10-6 lead with the server. A service error put the ball in the hands of Gear and he proceeded to keep NJIT off balance, serving seven-straight points for Penn State to move them from down four to up four. During the Gear service rotation, Penn State had three kills, one block, a service ace and befitted from two attacking errors to take a 14-10 lead. The visitors got no closer than two the rest of the way and Penn State scored five of the final eight points to claim the set 25-21. Albrecht and Mende led the attack in the second set with four kills apiece and the Nittany Lion net play limited the Highlander attack to a .115 hitting percentage.
at Penn State 25, NJIT 21
A back-and-forth start to the third set saw the score knotted at each marker up to 5-5, when Penn State got a kill from McLaren and a solo block from Gear to take a 7-5 edge. The Nittany Lions would score five of the next seven points to bolster the lead to four points, 12-4, before an NJIT timeout. The Highlanders pulled back within two points, 14-12, but pair of attacking errors, a kill from Gear and a triple block by Penn State quickly pushed the lead to six points, 18-12. After a Penn State service error, the Nittany Lions were able to score seven of the final 11 points to grab a 2-1 lead in the match with the 25-17 win. Albrecht and Gear each chipped in three kills, while Gear added two blocks in the set. Each team had 11 kills, but Penn State committed just two hitting errors in the set.
at Penn State 25, NJIT 17
Penn State leads 2-1
Knotted at 7-all following an NJIT kill, a Highlanders service error handed the ball back to Penn State and they would rattle off four-straight points during a Mende service rotation, including one service ace. During the spurt that gave the home squad the momentum, McLaren, Mende and Gear all had kills, along with the ace. The two teams traded points nearly the rest of the match, as each team was able to side-out on the oppositions service all but three times the rest of the way, and no squad put together more than two-straight points. McLaren led the attack with four kills, while Albrecht added three. Penn State hit just .217 for the set, but NJIT committed 10 service errors in the set to aid the Blue and White.
at Penn State 25, NJIT 19
Penn State wins 3-1
Penn State will enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the EIVA Tournament and face off against Harvard in the opening round at a time that is TBA. The 2018 EIVA Tournament will be hosted by George Mason University with the semifinals on April 19 and the championship match on April 21.