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Rules of the Game

Collegiate volleyball is an indoor team sport.  Courts are divided into 29 ½ foot square halves, separated by a 39 inch net that is 7 feet 11 5/8 inches above the floor.  Each team occupies one of the court halves, and players may not cross into the opponent’s half.  Penn State’s men’s volleyball team plays its home matches in Rec Hall.

Matches consist of a maximum of five games; to win a match, a team must win three games. The first team to score 25 points wins the game, but if a fifth game must be played, the first team to score 15 points wins the game and match.  (Note: In all games, a team must be at least two points ahead of its opponent to win, so that if the score of a game is 24-24, then the winning team must score 26 points).  A team scores a point when one of its players hits the ball over the net and the opposing team cannot return it, or returns or serves it out of bounds.  A team may score a point regardless of whether one of its players is serving; this is referred to as “rally” scoring.

A team must have six players on court for all points.  These players rotate positions on the court as points are scored; one player, the libero (defensive specialist), may remain in the defensive backcourt, and may (but is not required to) serve when it is his turn.  Players may be substituted after each point. Players may hit/touch the ball with any part of their body.  A team is allowed to hit the ball no more than three times before it goes over the net; blocking an opponent’s shot does NOT count as a hit.

Penn State Men’s Volleyball History

The Penn State men’s volleyball team began varsity competition in 1977 under coach Tom Tait, who also was the first women’s varsity volleyball coach.  Tait guided the Nittany Lions to two Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) titles, five national championship tournament appearances, and a national runner-up finish in 1982, and was named EIVA coach of the year four times.  For these accomplishments, Tait is considered to be the “father of Penn State volleyball.”  In 2007, he was recognized by the U.S. Volleyball Association as an All-Time Great Coach.  In 2012, he was an inaugural inductee in the EIVA Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Tom Peterson took over as coach in 1989, and the program continued its success, culminating in the 1994 NCAA men’s volleyball national championship; that year, Peterson was recognized as national coach of the year.  The Nittany Lions remain the only men’s team east of the Mississippi River to win the national title; coincidentally, the women’s volleyball team holds that same distinction. During Peterson’s six-year tenure,Penn State appeared in five NCAA Tournaments.

Current coach Mark Pavlik played under Tom Tait, and succeeded Tom Peterson as head coach in 1995.  Under Pavlik’s guidance, the Nittany Lions continue to be a national power, earning national runner-up distinction in both 1995 and 2006, winning the national championship in 2008, and participating in 19 national championship tournaments in 20 seasons.  The 2008 team was the first eastern team to earn a #1 national tournament seed, and Matt Anderson was conference, national, and national tournament MVP.  Anderson was later a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.

The 2014 team, with a 25-7 record (15-1 in Conference), won PSU’s 16th straight EIVA championship, beat Lewis in an NCAA Tournament “play-in” game, but lost to eventual national champion Loyola (Chicago) in the national semi-finals, 3-2.  In that match, Penn State twice came back after trailing by a set, and was behind on 12-11 in the final set before Loyola pulled away.  Aaron Russell was named EIVA Co- Player of the Year (the 6th year in a row that a Nittany Lion won this honor and the 2nd in a row for Russell).  Russell was a first team All-EIVA and All-American player, and was selected to play on the U.S. Men’s National Team that will play in the World Championship Qualification Tournament.  Nick Goodell and Taylor Hammond were also 1st team All-EIVA, and Goodell was an honorable mention All-American.

The Big 10 does not support men’s volleyball at the varsity level, and so Penn State competes in the EIVA.  The Nittany Lions have dominated the EIVA since its inception,  They have been regular NCAA Tournament participants, appearing 29 times since 1981, and not missing the Tournament since 1998.  As further evidence of Penn State’s EIVA dominance, the EIVA Most Valuable Player Award, inaugurated in 1997, has gone to a Nittany Lion 16 times since 1997, and for the past 7 years.

In 2014, the NCAA instituted a new format whereby a pool of 6 teams is selected: three Division 1 conference champions, as well as 3 “at-large” teams.  The top 2 seeded teams are automatically qualified for the National Championship Tournament, and the 2 winners of “play-in” games advance to the Tournament as well.

Team Accomplishments                                                     Coaches

NCAA Tournament Appearances                                            Tom Tait(1977-1988) 355-88-9

1981-1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991-1997,                              5 NCAA Tournament appearances

1999-2014                                                                           1982 National Runner-Up

                                                                                          1986, 1987 EIVA Champion                                                  

                                                                                          1976, 1979, 1981, 1982 EIVA Coach of the Year

National Champions                                                             Coach, PSU Women’s Volleyball 1976-1978

1994, 2008                                                                          2007 USA Volleyball All-Time great Coach 

                                                                                          2013 Inaugural EIVA Hall of Fame inductee

National Runner-Up                                                               Tom Peterson (1989-1994) 128-50           

1982, 1995, 2006, 2010                                                        1994 NCAA National Champion

EIVA Champions                                                                 5 NCAA Tournament appearances                                   

1986, 1987, 1989, 1991-1997, 1999-2014                               5 EIVA Championships

                                                                                          1994 AVCA, EIVA Coach of the Year                               

Notable Players                                                  

Ivan Contreras (1994-1997)                                                   Mark Pavlik (1995-present) 485-141

1997 AVCA, EIVA Player of the Year                                     19 NCAA Tournament appearances

1995-1997 1st Team All-American                                          2008 National Champ, 2-time runner-up

4-time 1st Team All-EIVA                                                        19 EIVA Championships

1996, 1997 CoSIDA Academic All-American                          6-time EIVA Coach of the Year

3-time GTE Academic All-American                                       2008 AVCA National Coach of the Year

2013 EIVA Hall of Fame Inductee       

Jose Quinones

 2001, 2002 1st Team All-American

 3 time EIVA Player of the Year

 1999 EIVA Newcomer of the Year

 4-time 1st Team All-EIVA       

Player Recognition

AVCA Player of the Year-- Ivan Contreras (1997); Matt Anderson (co-winner 2008)

ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Libero of the Year – Ricky Mattei (2001).

NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player – Ramon Hernandez (1994); Matt Anderson (2008)

1st Team All-America 28 selections, including multi-year honorees Chris Chase (1986, 1987, 1988), Javier Gaspar (1987, 1988), Ivan Contreras (1995, 1996, 1997), and Jose Quinones (2001, 2002), Max Holt (2008, 2009), and Max Lipsitz (2009, 2010); Aaron Russell (2014).

EIVA Most Valuable Player – Ivan Contreras (1997); Tony Mazzullo (1998); Sergio Pompena (1999); Jose Quinones (2000, 2001, 2002); Carlos Guerra (2003); Keith Kowal (2004); Matt Proper (2005); Matt Anderson (2008), Max Holt (2009), Max Lipsitz (2010), Joe Sunder (2011, 2012), Aaron Russell (co-winner, 2013, 2014).

EIVA Newcomer of the Year – Jose Quinones (1999); Zeljko Koljesar (2000); Alex Gutor (2004); Dennis Del Valle (2008), Edgardo Goas (2009), Taylor Hammond (2013).

1st Team All-East/All-EIVA - 150 selections since 1972.

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