The East Coast dynasty survived a scare but lives on at Penn State.
Penn State clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament and won its record 14th consecutive EIVA Tournament title as it defeated George Mason 25-16, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22 in the EIVA championship match Saturday in University Park, Pa.
Penn State out-hit George Mason .287 to .193, including a team-high .355 attack percentage in the final game.
The Nittany Lions had two players with double-digit kills. All-American outside attacker Joe Sunder had a match-high 15 kills, while freshman middle attacker Aaron Russell added 11 kills.
George Mason middle attacker Andrew Dentler in the loss had a match-high 15 kills and six blocks.
Both teams combined 19 aces in this championship match.
George Mason outside attacker Piotr Dabrowski led all players seven of the Patriots’ 10 aces. In addition, Russell and middle attacker Nick Turko each led Penn State with three aces.
Penn State trailed George Mason by four points early in the fourth game before rallying to take a 17-16 lead. In addition, with the score tied 22-22 Penn State closed out the match with three straight points, including kills from Nick Goodell and Russell.
George Mason in the third game was seven points away from elimination before going on a 7-2 run to force a fourth game. The Patriots in that late-game run had aces from Kvidahl and Hunter Stevents coupled with four errors from Penn State.
Penn State in the second game led 16-9 before George Mason went on a 8-1 run, including three consecutive aces from Michael Kvidahl to tie the game at 17. However, Penn State recovered to win four of the game’s final five points to take two-game lead.
The Nittany Lions held the Patriots to a zero attack percentage in its nine-point opening game win. Penn State led the first game 12-9 before closing out the game on a 13-7 run.
With this victory, Penn State becomes the first college men’s volleyball team to win 60 consecutive conference matches since the sport became NCAA sanctioned in 1970. The last team to defeat Penn State in EIVA play was George Mason during the 2008 regular season.
George Mason, which upset the No. 2 seed Harvard in the conference tournament semifinals on Thursday, was vying to become the first unranked team in recent history to make the NCAA Tournament.
The EIVA is one of three conferences whose conference tournament champion receives an automatic berth to the four-team NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA Tournament field and semifinal matches will be announced Sunday afternoon.
The national championship tournament will begin Thursday in Los Angeles.