Outside attacker Nick Goodell continued to put up big offensive numbers and Penn State picked up a big non-conference victory on the West Coast.
Goodell had a match-high 15 kills and 11 digs as Penn State swept Cal State Northridge 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 on Friday in Long Beach, Calif., to open the Active Ankle Tournament.
This was the fourth consecutive match that Goodell finished with at least 15 kills. In addition, the junior opened with a game-high eight kills in the Nittany Lions’ eight-point game on victory against the Matadors.
Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said Goodell since the start of the year has continued to improve his offensive production and has expanded his range of attack. The coach also said Goodell has become less streaky on offense in recent weeks.
“Nick is continuing to develop,” Pavlik said. “His consistency is getting better and better. He’s cutting down on his unforced errors. I think he is getting comfortable with the physicality he can bring to the game.”
Goodell was one of three Nittany Lions (14-4, 6-1 EIVA) to have double-digit kills as Penn State out-hit Cal State Northridge .297 to . 261. Outside attacker Peter Russell had 12 kills, while his younger brother and outside attacker Aaron Russell finished with 11 kills.
Cal State Northridge middle attacker Greg Faulkner in the loss led all players with six blocks and added seven kills on a .636 attack percentage.
With this victory, Penn State snapped its four-match losing streak against the MPSF dating back to last season. This was also the first time the Nittany Lions had traveled to the West Coast since opening the season going 1-2 at the Outrigger Invitational in Hawaii.
Pavlik said he enjoys the opportunity to travel out to the West Coast multiple times each season because it helps the team maintain its high execution level. The coach also he was impressed with how well Cal State Northridge (6-10, 6-12 MPSF) played in the non-conference match.
“This young team Jeff [Campbell] has is going to be good down the road,” Pavlik said. “As physical as they are being right now they are just learning more and more. Our team did what we needed to do. We served well and converted the opportunities we had.”
The Nittany Lions entered this non-conference tournament after it lost to Ohio State last weekend and dropped to a season-low No. 14 in the national coaches poll.
Among coaches to move Penn State down on his ballot this week included Cal State Northridge’s Campbell. In addition, for the last five weeks Campbell had ranked the Matadors ahead of the Nittany Lions on his coaches poll ballot.
Pavlik said, though, his players and him were not concerned about the rankings or use them as a source of motivation before the match.
“It’s one of those non-factors. To be fair to all the coaches who vote in that, it’s tough to see all the teams on a weekly basis. You know what you know,” Pavlik said. “If I got to use the poll to convince my guys to play hard that is going to be a very short course.”
Penn State will conclude the Active Ankle Tournament with a match against the host school No. 2 Long Beach State on Saturday.
Long Beach State rallied from a one-game deficit to defeat Ohio State in five games during its tournament opener on Friday.