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Jan. 10, 2013
HONOLULU, Hawaii - The seventh-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team (0-1) opened the 2013 season with a 3-2 (25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 10-15) loss to fifth-ranked UCLA (4-1). The Nittany Lions hit .303 against the Bruins.
Sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) led Penn State with 12 kills, while redshirt freshman Matt Seifert (Reading, Pa.) and junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) totaled nine apiece. Senior Tom Comfort (Orchard Park, N.Y.) posted eight. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) paced the offense with 44 assists and was one of three players to tally two blocks. Redshirt sophomore Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) had a team-best 12 digs, while senior Nick Turko (Lewisberry, Pa.) and Seifert had two blocks each.
Penn State totaled 54 kills, four aces, 36 digs and 5.0 total team blocks against UCLA. The Bruins, who hit .304, also recorded 54 kills with 11 aces, 45 digs and 5.0 team blocks.
Penn State got off to a great start in the match taking set one, 25-19. The Nittany Lions grabbed a 6-3 lead to start the first set, but a 4-1 run had the score tied at 7-7. Redshirt junior Scott Kegerreis (Honeybrook, Pa.) pounded a kill to give the Lions the edge, 8-7, but the Bruins fired back to knot it at 8-8. Three UCLA errors and an Aaron Russell kill had Penn State ahead by four, 12-8. Penn State held on to at least a two-point lead until Seifert sparked a 4-0 run for a comfortable 18-12 lead. A UCLA failed to bother the Lions as their lead increased to seven, 20-13, thanks to a kill and an ace by Seifert. The Nittany Lions and Bruins traded points for the remainder of the set with kills from Turko, Seifert and Aaron Russell helping PSU grab a 1-0 lead in the match.
UCLA hopped out to a 3-1 lead in the second frame, but Penn State capitalized on three UCLA service errors to eventually tie it up at 6-6. The Bruins used a 5-1 run to move ahead by four, 11-7. Two kills from Peter Russell sandwiching one from the Bruins moved Penn State within three, 12-9. However, a PSU service error and a Bruin kill had Penn State trailing by five, 15-10. Putdowns by redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) and Peter Russell closed the gap to three, 15-12, but Penn State was unable to come any closer than three points for the remainder of the set. UCLA's lead grew to seven, 23-16, as the set was coming to a close. Aaron Russell put down one final kill for the Lions before UCLA grabbed a 25-18 win to tie the match at 1-1.
Penn State stormed to an 8-2 lead to begin the third set. Despite a kill from UCLA's Trent Kersten, a 4-1 PSU run had Penn State leading by eight, 12-4. The Bruins fought to within four, 11-15, with a 7-3 run, but Penn State's lead was back at six, 18-12, courtesy of a kill by Comfort and Turko block. UCLA called a timeout, but was unable to slow the Lions, who maintained at least a four-point lead for the rest of the set. Leading 20-16, four UCLA errors and a kill from Aaron Russell secured set three for Penn State, 25-18.
UCLA took control to start set four with a 6-2 lead. Penn State came within two, 7-5, but two Bruin kills to one from the Lions kept PSU down by three, 9-6. Errors began to plague the Bruins to aid Penn State to a 10-9 lead, but a PSU error and a Bruin ace had UCLA on top, 11-10. Seifert tied it up one final time at 11-11 with a kill, but a kill from Kene Izuchukwu and a PSU error had the Bruins up by two, 13-11. Penn State kept it close through much of the middle of the set, but was soon trailing by four, 20-16, after three consecutive UCLA points. Despite a Bruin service error, two more points by UCLA had the Lions trailing by five, 22-17. Back-to-back kills from Comfort had PSU within three, 22-19, and the Bruins heading to the bench for a timeout. Kegerreis pounded a kill to pull the Nittany Lions within two, 22-20, but two UCLA points had the Bruins at set point, 24-20. Each team tallied a service error to close out the set in UCLA's favor, 25-21.
The fifth set was close from the beginning with the score tying seven times. Penn State was never able to take the lead. With the score knotted at 7-7, a 3-0 UCLA run had the Lions trailing by three, 10-7, and using a timeout. The teams went back and forth, but UCLA maintained control never letter Penn State closer than two points. Trailing by four, 13-9, Turko and Comfort teamed up for a block for the Nittany Lions' final point. A UCLA kill and a PSU error closed out the set, 15-10, and the match for UCLA.
Penn State is back in action on Friday at midnight against Outrigger host Hawaii. Livestats and live video are available on GoPSUsports.com.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State men's volleyball 2013 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.