No. 11 Men's Volleyball Falls Short in Season Opener
Jan. 9, 2014
Junior Aaron Russell, senior Peter Russell and redshirt-junior Nick Goodell all led the PSU offense with double-digit kills, led by 19 from Aaron. Aaron also tallied nine digs, one block and a team-high two aces. Matt Seifert followed closely behind the trio with nine kills, while also leading the blocking unit with three blocks. Redshirt-junior Connor Curry anchored the defense with 17 digs.
UCLA's Robart Page paced the Bruins with a match-high 23 kills, adding 11 digs for a double-double Mitch Stahl and Gonzalo Guiroga joined Page with double-digit kill performances.
Following some early back-and-forth action, redshirt-freshman Matt Callaway looked to spark some offensive momentum with a kill, lifting the Nittany Lions ahead, 4-3. The Bruins answered with a 7-0 streak, capped off by four consecutive service aces to pull away by six, 10-4. Regrouping, Aaron and Peter pounded a pair of kills in between a service error, trimming the advantage back to five, 11-6.
Trailing by as many as seven after a kill from Peter, 16-9, UCLA used a 3-0 spurt to take control of a double-digit lead, 19-9, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Following the break, Goodell put down a kill, sparking a 4-2 streak that narrowed the gap to eight, 21-13. UCLA responded with a 3-0 strike to arrive at set-point, 24-13. The Nittany Lions held off two attempts, helped out by a kill from Aaron and Bruin attack error, but another UCLA kill secured set one, 25-15, putting PSU behind by one set.
Leading by one, 4-3, in set two, Penn State used a 4-1 streak, capped off with a triple block from Goodell, Peter and Seifert to double the advantage, 8-4. Using a 4-1 run of their own, the Bruins jumped within one, 9-8, before tying the frame, 10-all. The two teams knotted the set three more times before back-to-back kills from Peter and Aaron pulled the Nittany Lions ahead, 15-13.
Keeping it tight, both teams continued to battle closely, until a PSU attack error and a UCLA kill pushed the Bruins ahead by two, 21-19, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Rallying, Penn State came out of the break firing, using a 6-1, powered by two kills from Aaron to lock up a 25-22 victory in set two, tying the match, 1-1.
After fighting point-for-point in the opening portion of the third stanza, the Nittany Lions broke open an 8-all tie with a 4-0 streak, helped out by a trio of Bruin errors and a kill from Russell to move ahead by four, 12-8. A UCLA kill halted the attack, but Penn State maintained a three-point cushion, 14-11. Erasing the gap, the Bruins used a 3-0 spurt to tie the set, 14-14.
Pulling away, PSU used a 3-1 strike to go up by two, 17-15, but UCLA remained close behind. With the set tied at 19-all, the Nittany Lions constructed a 5-2 run to make it set-point, 24-21, but a PSU service error and a UCLA block shaved the advantage back to one, 24-23. Goodell finished off a 25-23 win in the third set with a kill to give PSU a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Bruins charged out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth set, forcing Penn State to call an early timeout. Using a balanced attack, the Nittany Lions fought within two, 7-5, before UCLA connected on two consecutive kills to go up by five, 9-4. Settling into a rhythm, PSU answered with a 5-1 streak to jump within one, 10-9. As Penn State struggled to get back on top, the Bruins continued to move ahead, 16-13.
After a brief break, the two teams traded kills before Peter pounded two straight to put Penn State within one, 17-16. Unable to mount a comeback, the Bruins looked to end the frame, arriving at set-point, 24-20. Aaron thwarted the attempt with a kill, but a UCLA kill sealed a 25-21 win for the Bruins, sending the match into a deciding fifth set.
The Nittany Lions battled through six ties in the fifth set before a UCLA service error gave PSU a slim, 7-6 edge. The Bruins then responded with two consecutive kills after a Penn State service error to take control of a 9-7 lead.
PSU continued to battle, remaining just one point behind until a kill from Aaron and a Bruin attack error tied the frame, 12-12, forcing UCLA to call timeout. The two teams fought through two more knotted scores before back-to-back blocks from the Bruins secured a 16-14 decision in favor of UCLA to end the match.
The Nittany Lions return to action tomorrow night, taking on Outrigger Invitational host Hawaii at 12 a.m. in the Stan Sheriff Center.