Penn State Men's Volleyball Falls to Brigham Young, 3-2
Honolulu, Jan. 6, 2005- For the second straight night, the Penn State men's volleyball team (0-2) dropped a five-game heartbreaker, this time falling to defending national champion Brigham Young (30-27, 30-28, 27-30, 24-30, 11-15) Thursday night in the second match of the Hawaii Outrigger Invitational.
"This is as disappointing a match as I've been involved in," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "We got away from what was working for us and it took a freshman [setter Luke Murray] to come in and get us back to what we needed to do. Hats off to BYU, they did a great job. But this one hurts."
Sophomore Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) set a new career high with 17 kills while junior Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) posted 13 kills and juniors Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) both notched 11 kills.
Junior setter Dan O'Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) directed the offense for three and a half games, recording 38 assists before freshman Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) came into the fourth game and directed the offense, recording 18 assists, four digs and a block and kill.
Freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) tied the Penn State rally-scoring-era single-match dig record with 17 digs, a mark previously held by Ricky Mattei. Gutor and Proper each posted nine digs.
Penn State won the blocking battle, 13.0 to 9.0, led by senior Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) with six, Meerstein and Gutor with five each and O'Dell with four. Gutor also posted two aces while Proper and Wentzel each tallied one.
Brigham Young was led by Michael Burke with 16 kills while Rob Neilson dished out 68 assists. Brian Rowley tallied a team-high 10 digs while Burke led the squad with four blocks.
The squads exchanged points to begin the fifth and deciding game before Brigham Young scored the next three points to go up 4-1. A Kowal kill and a Gutor ace pulled Penn State to within one at 4-3 and the teams traded points twice before two Penn State errors aided in the Cougars grabbing the 8-5 lead going into the side change. A Meerstein kill and solo block after the media timeout trimmed the Cougar lead to one at 8-7 and the teams traded points before a Brigham Young kill and block gave it the 11-8 lead and forced a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, a Gutor kill and a block from Kowal and Murray trimmed the BYU lead to one at 11-10 but the Cougars responded with a kill, block and ace to go up 14-10 before a kill ended the game, 15-11.
Penn State took the 5-4 lead in the first game on a block from Kowal and O'Dell and the Nittany Lions extended their lead to 8-6 on a Gutor ace. Brigham Young scored three of the next four points to knot the score at 9-9 before kills from Wentzel and Proper and a BYU attack error gave Penn State the 12-9 advantage. Consecutive Cougar kills trimmed the Lion lead to 13-11 before a Proper put-away pushed the lead to 14-11. But Brigham Young scored two of the next three points to pull within one at 15-14. A block from Kowal and O'Dell made the score 16-14 and the teams traded points twice before a kill from Gutor gave Penn State the 19-16 lead. Following a BYU kill to make it 19-17, three consecutive Cougar errors allowed the Nittany Lions to take the 22-17 advantage. But out of a BYU timeout, the Cougars scored five of the next seven points to pull within two at 24-22. Another Gutor kill gave Penn State the two-point cushion at 25-23 but a Cougar kill and ace knotted the game at 25-25. A BYU service error and a Penn State ace by sophomore Ryan Walthall (Irvine, Calif.) put the Lions ahead 27-25 and a Wentzel kill made it 28-26 before a Proper kill ended the game 30-27. Proper posted five kills in the stanza as Wentzel chipped in four. The Nittany Lions attacked at a .360 clip in the game.
A block from Meerstein and Proper gave the Lions the 4-2 advantage to start the second game and back to back kills from Proper and Wentzel pushed the lead to four at 8-4. Gutor pounded a kill through the triple block to put Penn State up 11-7 and a block from Gutor and Kowal made the score 14-10. Two BYU kills trimmed the Lion lead to two at 14-12 and a Proper kill extended the lead to three at 16-13. A Cougar kill and a Penn State attack error brought BYU to within one at 16-15 before another Gutor kill made it 17-15. The teams traded points and two Cougar put-aways tied the game at 18-18. A BYU service error and a kill made the score 19-19 before a Proper kill sparked a 5-0 Nittany Lion run to put Penn State up 24-29. A Gutor kill maintained the five-point lead at 25-20 and a Kowal kill and a Cougar attack error put Penn State up 27-22. But Brigham Young went on a run, scoring five of the next seven points to pull within two at 29-27. Following a Penn State timeout, a Nittany Lion attack error trimmed the lead to on at 29-28 before a Gutor kill ended the game, 30-28. Gutor led the Lions with five kills in the game as Wentzel posted four.
The teams traded points early on in the third game before three straight BYU points gave it the 5-2 lead. A solo block from Gutor and an O'Dell kill trimmed the Cougar lead to one at 4-5. BYU maintained the slight advantage, with a Meerstein kill pulling Penn State to within one at 10-9 and a block from Gutor and Kowal made the score 12-11 in favor of the Cougars. Back to back BYU kills pushed their lead to three at 14-11 but a Proper kill and a Gutor kill following his diving dig again pulled Penn State to within one at 14-13. A Proper kill pulled Penn State to 18-17 and a Gutor kill and Proper ace knotted the score at 20-20. But BYU scored four of the next five points to take the 24-21 lead. A Cougar service error and a block from O'Dell, Meerstein and Wentzel pulled Penn State to within one at 24-23. But Brigham Young again went on a run, scoring five of the next seven to go up 29-25 before a Cougar kill ended the game, 30-27. Proper and Gutor led the Lions with four kills each in the stanza.
Brigham Young came out of the gates on fire in the fourth game, taking the 6-2 lead on an ace and forcing a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, a Meerstein kill with Murray setting sparked a 3-1 Nittany Lion run to pull Penn State to within one at 7-6. Following a Cougar kill, a Murray tip kill and a Gutor put-away evened the score at 8-8. Four ties ensued before back to back BYU attack errors put Penn State up 14-12. But consecutive Cougar kills again knotted the score at 14-14 and the teams traded points twice before a BYU kill and ace put them up 18-16. The teams again exchanged scores and a Brigham Young attack error and a Gutor tip kill from the back row tied the game at 19-19. But the Cougars went on a 3-0 run to take the 22-19 advantage. A Meerstein kill pulled Penn State to within two at 22-20 but two Nittany Lion errors aided in BYU taking the 24-20 lead. The teams traded points twice before three consecutive Cougar kills put them up 29-23, and another kill ended the game, 30-24. Gutor and Meerstein each posted five kills in the game.
The Nittany Lions close out action at the Hawaii Outrigger Invitational when they take on Lewis on Friday, Jan. 7 at 4:00 p.m. HT (9:00 p.m. ET).
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.