The Russell brothers lived up to their all-conference status and have put Penn State back into the NCAA Tournament
Outside attacker Peter Russell had a match-high 14 kills while his younger brother Aaron Russell added 10 kills as Penn State swept Harvard 25-16, 25-16, 25-16 in the EIVA Tournament championship on Saturday in University Park, Pa.
Peter Russell and Aaron Russell, the 2013 EIVA Player of the Year, were the only two players to have double-digit kills in the victory. In addition, Aaron Russell added a team-high three blocks and eight digs to give the Nittany Lions’ the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State out-hit Harvard .474 to .250 and had more than a .500 attack percentage in the opening two games.
Harvard outside attacker DJ White in the loss had a team-high nine kills.
This victory extends Penn State’s NCAA record of 15 consecutive conference championships and appearances in the four-team NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions never trailed in the match until the opening points of the third game. Penn State rallied from any early 2-0 deficit in the third game and despite having a .185 attack percentage defeated Harvard by nine points to complete the sweep.
Penn State did not commit an attack error in the second game and had a season-high .833 attack percentage to take a two-game lead in the match.
With Harvard within three points of Penn State midway through the opening game, the Nittany Lions closed out the game on a 10-4 run. In addition, Peter Russell led all players with six kills in the first game.
With this victory, Penn State has won 37 consecutive conference tournament matches dating back to 1999. The Nittany Lions in the last 20 years have lost once in the EIVA Tournament — losing to Princeton in the 1998 semifinals.
Harvard advanced its first conference championship match in program history after rallying to upset the No. 2 seed George Mason in a fifth game overtime on Thursday. The Crimson during the regular season also became the first team to beat the Nittany Lions in conference play since 2008.
Penn State will advance to play in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday in Los Angeles.
The NCAA Tournament field, including the Nittany Lions’ semifinal opponent, will be announced at 3 p.m. (EST) Sunday. The latest Off the Block bracketology projects has Penn State as the No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament.