For the first time since 1998, Penn State suffered a home loss in a conference match, and for the first time ever lost to St. Francis.
The No. 6 Nittany Lions stumbled 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 Friday night at Rec Hall.
“Congratulations to Saint Francis, I thought they played one of the best matches they’ve ever played against us,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “They didn’t go away, they hung in there, we were the team that was making the mistakes and our effectiveness dropped off at crucial points in the match. I thought that we had opportunities in Game 3 and 4 to just control the match, but we couldn’t string enough good plays together for a long enough time to take them out of the match. (Saturday) we have to let this one go and come in and get ready for the Buckeyes.”
The setback ended a 26-match win streak in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association for Penn State (12-5, 6-1) and was the first home EIVA loss since the conference tournament championship match in 1998 and the first in the regular season since Feb. 14 of that season to Rutgers-Newark, a span of more than 110 home EIVA matches.
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St. Francis’ Stephen Braswell, brother of Penn State freshman setter Luke Braswell, led everyone with 20 kills to go with 10 digs and three aces. Jeff Hogan added 13 kills, Daniel Ford had 40 assists and 11 digs and Mike Marshman posted five blocks.
Chris Nugent’s 17 kills on .419 hitting and 12 digs paced Penn State. Spencer Sauter added a dozen kills and Jalen Penrose had nine kills. Taylor Hammond gave out 29 assists and Zack Parik added 22 assists.
The Red Flash (12-6, 5-3) won the blocking battle 10-6 and outhit the Lions .275 to .240.
Penn State will try to bounce back Saturday night, hosting No. 4 Ohio State at 7 p.m.