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May 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Penn State men's volleyball team (23-6) saw its season come to an end Thursday night with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-19) loss to top-seeded UC Irvine (25-5) in the NCAA National Semifinals. Penn State was making its 14th straight appearance in the NCAA Semifinals and 28th overall.
Redshirt senior Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.) and redshirt freshman Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) closed out the match with 15 kills apiece. Freshman Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) was second on the team with 10 kills on a team-high .474 hitting. He had just one error in 19 swings.
Redshirt senior Edgardo Goas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) dished out 41 assists. Redshirt freshman Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) led the team with 12 digs, while Sunder added eight and sophomore Jace Olsen (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) contributed seven. Olsen also led the team in blocks with three, including two solo.
Kevin Tillie was UC Irvine's offensive lead with 21 kills, while Carson Clark had a match-high five aces. The Anteaters Michael Brinkley had a match-best 15 digs and Scott Kevorkan and Tillie posted three blocks each.
"I'd like to congratulate UC Irvine, especially on their resiliency," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "I thought Irvine did a great job of handling our serves through the course of the match. We told the guys we though the winner of this match would be the team that served and passed the best and I think that held true."
UC Irvine opened the match with a 5-2 lead, but Penn State rallied with a 5-1 run to take a slim 7-6 lead. A PSU service error tied it up at 7-7, but two PSU kills and a UCI error had Penn State leading, 10-7. The Anteaters called a timeout, but it failed to slow Penn State as two Sunder kills and a solo stuff by Olsen kept Penn State on top, 14-11. UC Irvine closed the gap to one, 15-14, but a sunder kill and a UCI error kept the Lions leading by three, 18-15. The Anteaters used their second timeout to no avail. Turko pounded a kill before joining forces with Sunder for a block to push the Nittany Lion lead to five, 20-15. A service error turned the ball over to UCI, but a Goodell kill and another solo block by Olsen increased PSU's lead to six, 22-16. Penn State allowed the Anteaters just two final points before Goodell closed out set one with a kill for a 25-18 win.
UCI leapt out to a 6-2 lead to start the second frame and Penn State called a timeout. The Nittany Lions traded points with the Anteaters, including a kill from Goodell and two from Sunder, but four PSU errors allowed UCI to move ahead by six, 11-5. Goodell ended the rough streak with back-to-back kills to bring the Lions within four, 11-7. However, the teams continued to go back and forth with the Nittany Lions unable to get any closer than four. Russell pulled PSU within four, 15-11, with a kill, but two straight Anteater kills had PSU lagging behind by six, 17-11. PSU used its second timeout and a Turko kill and a Goodell ace brought Penn State back within four, 17-13. The Nittany Lions were unable to slow UCI and came no closer than three for the remainder of the set. Irvine eventually claimed set two, 25-18.
Despite a 2-2 start to the third stanza, the Anteaters moved ahead by two, 4-2, with a kill and an ace. A joint stuff by Goodell and Russell had the Lions within one, 5-4, but three PSU errors helped UCI take a 9-5 lead. After a Penn State timeout, Olsen and Goodell each tallied a kill before a 10-3 Anteater run had UCI leading, 20-10. A UCI attack error ended the run, but a short 3-1 run by Irvine had UCI within two of taking the set, 23-13. Two UC Irvine service errors and a Goas ace proved too little too late as the Anteaters claimed set three, 25-15.
Penn State came to life in set four grabbing a 6-3 lead to start. UC Irvine called a timeout and narrowed the gap to one, 6-5, but three straight Sunder kills had Penn State with a 9-5 advantage. UCI burned its second timeout, but Penn State's lead grew to six, 12-6, thanks to an Anteater error, a Goodell ace and another Sunder putdown. UC Irvine took off on a 4-0 run to come within two, 12-10. Penn State used a timeout and managed to hold off the Anteaters briefly until a 4-1 run had UCI trailing by one, 16-15. Goodell increased PSU's lead to two, 17-15, but an Anteater block and a PSU error had the score knotted at 17-17. A Russell kill moved Penn State into the lead, 18-17, before a PSU service error and a kill from UCI moved the Anteaters into the lead, 19-18. Penn State called a timeout but UCI's lead grew to two, 21-19. Penn State was unable to regain control and UC Irvine ran away with the set for a 25-19 win.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State men's volleyball 2012 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.
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