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April 30, 2014
CHICAGO -The fifth-seeded No. 12 Penn State men's volleyball team (25-6) knocked off fourth-seeded Lewis (23-8) in four sets (27-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19) Tuesday evening at Gentile Arena to earn the final spot in the 2014 NCAA national semifinals.
Making their 16th consecutive and 28th overall appearance in the NCAA national semifinals, Penn State will square off against No. 1 overall seed and tournament host, Loyola Chicago Thursday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET in Gentile Arena. Fans can watch the matchup live via NCAA.com or tune in via WRSC 103.1 FM.
Junior Aaron Russell led the Nittany Lion offense with 20 kills, adding nine digs, four blocks and two aces. Redshirt junior Nick Goodell followed close behind with 18 kills, to go along with six digs and two blocks. Senior Peter Russellrounded out the group of double-digit performers with 15 kills, while also posting six digs and three blocks.
Redshirt junior Connor Curry anchored the defense with a match-high 14 digs. Redshirt freshman Matt Callaway notched a team-high five blocks, while also contributing six kills. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Hammonddished out a season-high 61 assists.
After trailing early in set one, 7-5, Penn State regrouped with a 7-1 run to take over a four-point lead, 12-8. Aaron and Goodell powered the streak with two kills each. Lewis cut off the run with a kill, 12-9, but the Nittany Lions used a 3-2 stretch to maintain the edge, 15-11. Keeping it close, the Flyers responded with a 5-2 run to climb within one, 17-16, forcing Penn State to call a timeout.
Aaron came out of the break with a kill, but a kill and a block from Lewis tied the stanza, 18-18. Once more, Aaron looked to spark some momentum with a kill, but the two teams traded service errors to keep the frame knotted, 19-19.
Penn State and Lewis continued to trade points, tying the set two more times until a kill from Aaron made it set point, 24-23. The Flyers held off two attempts, but a Lewis service error and an ace from Aaron locked up a 27-25 win in the first set.
Lewis shot out to another hot start in the second set, using an 8-5 run to build an early advantage. PSU rebounded with a 4-1 spurt to tie the set, 9-9. A service error interrupted the rhythm, but Peter looked to spark another run with a kill that tied the frame once more, 10-all.
The Flyers pulled away with a 5-1 run to go up by four, 15-11, heading into the media timeout. Lewis came out of the break with a kill, 16-11, but Penn State answered with a 3-1 strike to shrink the margin to three, 17-14.
The Flyers followed with a kill and a block to move ahead by as many as five, 19-14, causing PSU to call a timeout. Aaron came out of the huddle with a kill, 19-15, but Lewis used 4-1 run to bolster the lead to seven, 23-16. The Nittany Lions attempted to mount a comeback with a trio of kills from Goodell and Peter, 23-19, but a service error and a Lewis kill handed the Flyers a 25-19 win in the second set.
Down by three in set three, 4-1, Penn State came storming back with a 7-2 run to capture a two-point lead, 8-6. Lewis halted the attack with a kill, 8-7, but PSU followed with a 6-2 stretch, capped off with a triple block from Goodell, Peter and Callaway to surge ahead by five, 14-9.
Later in the frame, the Flyers shaved a four-point Penn State lead, 18-14, down to one, 18-17, with a 3-0 streak, forcing the Nittany Lions to call a timeout. A Lewis service error kept Penn State on top, 19-17, but the Flyers tallied three quick points to take over the lead, 20-19.
PSU battled to two more ties, before breaking open a 21-all score with a 3-2 stretch to make it set point, 24-23. The Flyers had no answer for pressure as Aaron and Callaway paired up for a kill to put away a 25-23 win in set three.
Penn State and Lewis kept it tight for most of the fourth frame, until the Nittany Lions used a 4-1 run to pull away from a one-point lead, 9-8, and move ahead by four, 13-9. A service error broke up the momentum, but PSU rebounded with a 4-1 strike to maintain a six-point lead, 17-11. Lewis managed to battle within five once, 20-15, but Penn State closed out the set on a 5-4 stretch to secure a 25-19 win in the second set to earn the victory.