Penn State Men's Volleyball Travels to Outrigger Invitational
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Jan. 8 2003 - The Penn State men's volleyball team opens its season at the Outrigger Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m. HT (12:30 a.m. ET Friday) against the host Warriors. The Nittany Lions will then face defending national champion Lewis on Friday, Jan. 9 at 5:00 p.m. HT and round out tournament play on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 5:00 p.m. HT against Manitoba in an exhibition contest that does not count towards Penn State's official record or statistics.
The Penn State-Hawaii match can be viewed and heard on the internet by clicking on the link at www.GoPSUsports.com.
Hawaii leads the series with Penn State, 10-1, with the last meeting coming last season at the Outrigger Invitational. The Warriors defeated the Nittany Lions in four games (19-30, 30-25, 23-30, 23-30) on Jan. 16. Penn State leads the series with Lewis, 8-6. The last meeting was a four-game Flyer win (21-30, 30-27, 30-21, 30-27) on Feb. 8, 2003. The Nittany Lions leads the series with Manitoba, 9-7, although the matches do not count towards Penn State's official record. The last meeting was five-game Manitoba win (15-7, 3-15, 4-15, 15-12, 15-13) on Feb. 17, 1990.
Penn State returns nine letterwinners from last season's 26-6 team, including three starters. Second team AVCA All-America selection junior Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.), senior libero Ricky Mattei (San Juan, Puerto Rico), an AVCA All-America selection in 2002, and 2003 EIVA Newcomer of the Year sophomore Dan O'Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) look to lead the Lions on the court this season. Penn State will be looking for contributions from sophomore middle hitter Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.), sophomore outside hitter Matt Proper (Maplewood, Pa.) and sophomore Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) to fill the void left by seven graduating seniors a year ago.
Newcomers Kyle Masterson (6-6, MH, Barrington, Ill.), Ryan Walthall (6-2, S, Irvine, Calif.), Aaron Smith (6-5, OH, Richmond, Va.), Andrew Price (6-5, OH, Laytonsville, Md.), Alex Gutor (6-3, OH, Irving, Texas), Phil Small (6-11, MH, Lansdale, Pa.) and Guillermo Fernandez (6-1, OH, San Juan, Puerto Rico) will also be looked upon to provide talent to this young squad.
"This class of athletes has shown that they know how to win and they have all had success at high levels in their careers," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "They all have a good work ethic and will mix well with our current players to take our program to the next level."
Fernandez is a 6-1 outside hitter who could also play the libero position. He was named the Cupeyville High School Athlete of the Year and was selected to compete in the Puerto Rico High School All-Star game.
Gutor comes to Penn State from Greenhill Academy in Irving, Texas. A 6-3 outside hitter, Gutor was named the Most Valuable Player at Greenhill and was a two-time All-SPC honoree. Also a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection, Gutor earned the distinction of being named the Texas High School Player of the Year.
A 6-6 middle hitter, Masterson was the named the Most Valuable Player at Barrington (Ill.) High School. He was tabbed as a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection along with being named to the 2003 All-Area Mid-Suburban League team.
The tallest of the incoming players, Small is a 6-11 middle hitter who is transferring after playing two years at USC. The Lansdale, Pa., native started 20 matches as a freshman in 2002 for the Trojans, ranking third on the team in blocking with 0.90 blocks per game. Last season, Small appeared in 14 matches and 43 games, hitting .333 while averaging 1.93 kills per game and 0.79 blocks per game.
Smith, a 6-5 outside hitter, was named the Most Valuable Player at Monacan (Va.) High School and was tabbed as the Virginia State Player of the Year. He picked up first team all-district, all-metro, all-region and all-state honors and was named a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 pick.
Walthall is a 6-2 setter and was named the Most Valuable Player at Woodbridge (Calif.) High School, also picking up Co-MVP honors of the Seaview League. A Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection, Walthall was a member of the Orange County All-Star team and led the LBC club team to a national championship in 2003.
The Nittany Lions open up their home slate on Tuesday, Jan. 27 against St. Francis at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.