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May 2, 2014
CHICAGO - The 2014 Penn State men's volleyball season came to a close in the NCAA national semifinals, as the fifth-seeded No. 12 Nittany Lions (25-7) came up just short in a close 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 11-15) loss to No. 1 overall seed Loyola Chicago (28-1) Thursday evening at Gentile Arena.
Despite the outcome, three Nittany Lions fueled the offense with a trio of double-doubles. All-EIVA first team honoree Nick Goodell led the way with 18 kills, adding 10 digs and one solo stuff. 2014 EIVA Player of the Year and first team AVCA All-American Aaron Russell followed close behind with 17 kills to go along with 11 digs. EIVA second team selection Peter Russell rounded out the group of standout performers with 15 kills and 10 digs.
Penn State and Loyola opened the match fighting point-for-point until the Ramblers used a 4-0 streak to break open a 5-all tie and move ahead by four, 9-5. Aaron cut off the run with a kill, but Loyola answered with a 3-0 spurt to double the advantage, 12-6. Goodell followed a Loyola service error with a kill to trim the lead to four, 12-8. With Penn State unable to sustain the momentum, the Ramblers pulled away on a 6-1 run, to bolster their lead to nine, 19-8.
Aaron looked to spark a streak with a kill, 18-10, but Loyola held off the pressure, maintaining the nine-point edge, 21-12. Regrouping, Goodell pounded two kills in between a block from Aaron and Seifert to lift the Nittany Lions within six, 21-15, forcing Loyola to call a timeout.
The Ramblers came out of the break with a kill, but PSU answered with a 3-1 strike to come within five, 23-18. Loyola quickly responded with a kill to make it set point, 24-18. A kill from Peter and a Rambler error held off two attempts, but a PSU service error handed Loyola a 25-20 win in the first set.
Loyola shot out to an 8-2 start in the second set to take control of an early lead. Recovering, Penn State put together a 4-1 run to arrive within three, 9-6. The Ramblers attempted to slow the streak with a kill, but the Nittany Lions settled into a 7-1 run to take over a two-point lead, 13-11.
PSU managed to cling to the narrow advantage, 16-14, until Loyola scored four unanswered points to climb back up by two, 18-16. A service error broke up the momentum to make it a one-point frame, 18-17, but neither team could keep the lead as the two teams knotted the stanza two more times.
Tied at 21-21, a Rambler kill lifted Loyola ahead by one, 22-21. Rallying from behind, the Nittany Lions scored the next four consecutive points to lock up a 25-22 win in set two, tying the match, 1-1.
Penn State and Loyola traded the lead for most of the opening part of set three. Tied up at 11-all, the Ramblers constructed a four-point lead, 16-12, helped out by a 5-1 streak. A service error interrupted the momentum, but the Nittany Lions couldn't settle into an offensive rhythm as Loyola continued to pull away, 20-17.
Aaron attempted to mount a comeback with a kill, 20-18, but the Ramblers rolled to set point, 24-19, on a 4-1 run. A service error and a kill from Peter thwarted a pair of attempts, but a Penn State service error handed Loyola a 25-21 win in the third stanza.
Much like the third set, the two clubs traded points for the first half of the fourth frame. Knotted at 15-15, three Loyola errors lifted the Lions ahead, 20-16, causing the Ramblers to call a timeout. The Ramblers fired a kill to shrink the gap, 20-17, but a kill from Goodell and an ace from Aaron brought Penn State ahead, 22-17. The Ramblers made one final attempt to regroup with a kill, but Penn State followed with a kill and a block from Goodell and an ace from Seifert to secure a 25-18 win, forcing the match into a decisive fifth set.
Penn State and Loyola traded a total of seven service errors in the opening part of the fifth set, to keep the frame knotted, 7-7. Finding momentum, the Ramblers smacked two kills to take over a two-point lead, 9-7, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Loyola came out of the break with a block to make it 11-8, but a service error and a kill from Aaron moved PSU within one, 11-10.
A Nittany Lion service error set PSU back by two, 12-10, but Peter crushed a kill to keep Penn State within one, 12-11. Unable to continue the streak, Penn State followed with three consecutive errors, giving the Ramblers a 15-11 win in the fifth frame.