Click here for Penn State vs. Hawaii box score
HONOLULU, Hawaii, Jan. 9, 2004 - The Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team snapped an eight-match losing streak to Hawaii, downing the Warriors in five games (30-27, 36-38, 30-28, 27-30, 15-13) Thursday night in Honolulu to open the 2004 season.
¡°This was a great win for us,¡± said head coach Mark Pavlik. ¡°We played well as a team and we played hard the whole match. We fought through fatigue and stayed disciplined in our blocking and passing. We had great contributions from everyone and this was a great win for us.¡±
Five Nittany Lion players ended the evening with double-digit kill numbers, led by sophomore Matt Proper (Maplewood, Pa.) with a match-high 20. Junior middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) racked up 19 kills on 28 attempts with only three errors to hit .571 while sophomore middle Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) pounded 14 kills while hitting .524. Sophomore Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and freshman Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.), both making their first collegiate starts, notched 13 and 12 kills, respectively. As a team, Penn State outhit Hawaii, .357 to .292 while posting 10 more kills (86 to 76).
Sophomore setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) directed the Penn State offense with a career-high 79 assists, a new Nittany Lion rally-scoring-era record. He broke the previous mark of 76, which he set last season against George Mason on March 4. O¡¯Dell also recorded his first double-double of the season, tallying 10 digs. Senior libero Ricky Mattei (San Juan, Puerto Rico) tied his career-high and Penn State rally-scoring-era record with 17 digs against the Warriors. The Nittany Lions outdug Hawaii, 50 to 30, as nine Penn State players recorded at least one dig in the match.
Both teams recorded 13.5 blocks in the contest, as the Nittany Lions were led by Meerstein with a career-high seven. Kowal and O¡¯Dell chipped in five stuffs apiece as Proper contributed four. Wentzel and Smith posted two and one blocks, respectively, while freshman Alex Gutor (Irving, Texas) posted one block, one ace and four kills on six attempts in his first collegiate match.
The Warriors were led by Delano Thomas with 17 kills while Matt Bender and Joshua Stanhiser both added 13 and Jose Delgado and Pedro Azenha posted 12 and 10, respectively. Brian Beckwith directed the offense with 64 assists and Alfred Reft topped the defense with eight digs. Stanhiser led the blocking front with nine blocks.
Penn State takes on defending National Champion Lewis on Friday, Jan. 8 at 5:00 p.m. HT (10:00 p.m. ET). 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.