No. 7 Men¡¯s Volleyball Downs George Mason, 3-1
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 10, 2007 ¨C In front of the 1,492 fans that packed the South Gym of Rec Hall, the seventh-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team downed George Mason in four games (31-29, 23-30, 30-18, 30-25) Saturday night to improve to 6-2 and remain undefeated in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) at 3-0. The Patriots fall to 3-2 and 1-2 in conference action.
¡°What you saw tonight was some of the longest stretches of good volleyball that we¡¯ve had all season long,¡± said head coach Mark Pavlik. ¡°In game three, Luke (Murray) probably set the best match of his Penn State career. When we can win and Alex (Gutor) hits negative, you know other good things are happening. Even Alex is entitled to a rough weekend, it happens.¡±
Four Nittany Lions reached double-digit kills, led by sophomore opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) with 19, just one kill shy of his career best of 20 and equal to his effort last night against Saint Francis. Sophomore middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) pounded a season-high 15 kills on .700 hitting (15-1-20) as freshman middle hitter Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) provided a career-best 12 kills on .417 hitting. Senior outside hitter Alex Gutor (Kiev, Ukraine) tallied 11 kills as senior Aaron Smith (Forest, Va.) notched six. As a team, Penn State attacked at a .277 clip while limiting George Mason to hitting .192 for the match.
Junior setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) dished out 48 assists and added three kills while senior libero Ryan Walthall (Irvine, Calif.) posted a season-high 16 digs, one shy of his career best mark. Murray chipped in eight digs as Smith and Gutor each added six. The Nittany Lions outdug the Patriots, 44-36.
George Mason racked up 17.0 blocks in the contest as Penn State posted 12.0, led by Holt with a season-high six, including two solo efforts. Gutor and Anderson provided four blocks apiece, season-bests for both, as Lipsitz recorded three and Murray added two.
William Price led the Patriots with 22 kills as Kyle Gramit recorded 17. Colton Niall topped the blocking list with nine total stuffs.
The first game remained even early on, with George Mason going ahead 11-9 on a Price kill and a Penn State attack error. The Patriots held onto the lead, going up 17-12 on a Gramit kill and 24-17 on a Mark Burik put-away. Out of a Lion timeout, the teams traded points twice before strong serving from redshirt sophomore Travis Foltz (Westlake Village, Calif.) and four blocks helped Penn State go on a 7-0 run to pull ahead 26-25. Four ties ensued, with a Gutor kill knotting the score at 29-29 before a Gutor service ace and a George Mason attack error ended the game in the Lion¡¯s favor, 31-29. Gutor posted six kills as Anderson added five and Holt chipped in four.
The second game picked up where the first left off, with the teams exchanging points. Lion kills from Smith and Gutor gave Penn State the 10-8 lead before George Mason fought back to knot the game at 12-12 aided by a Lion attack error. The contest see-sawed back and forth, with six ties before the Patriots captured the 19-17 lead on a triple block by Price, Burik and Kyle Swanson. George Mason retained the advantage, going up 21-18 on a Price service ace and 25-20 on a solo Naill block. The Patriots scored five of the next eight points to take the game, 30-23, on a Gramit kill. Lipsitz and Anderson each posted four kills for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions came charging out of the gates to begin the third game, going up 12-4 aided by three consecutive kills and a solo Holt block. Penn State continued the domination, going up 22-9 on two Anderson kills and a solo block before consecutive Holt put-aways made it 27-14. A Murray kill ended the game, 30-18. Anderson pounded seven kills on 10 swings as Smith, Lipsitz, Gutor and Murray all added two kills and Holt notched three. Penn State attacked at a .448 clip in the stanza while limiting George Mason to -.080 hitting.
The Patriots took the early 10-7 lead to begin the fourth game and remained on top, going up 16-12 on a block by Price and Naill. But the Nittany Lions slowly chipped away at the hole, fighting back to knot the score at 19-19 aided by consecutive Lipsitz kills. George Mason again claimed the advantage, going up 24-21 on a Gramit kill before strong serving from Anderson led to back to back Holt overpass kills that ignited the crowd and the team and put Penn State back on top 26-25. A Lion block by Smith and Holt and a Smith kill pushed the Penn State advantage to three at 27-24 before two Holt kills and a Patriot attack error ended the game, 30-25. The Nittany Lions closed out the stanza on a 10-2 run that encompassed seven kills. Holt led Penn State in the final game with five kills on an errorless six swings to hit .833 as Lipsitz pounded four kills on five errorless swings to hit .800.
Penn State remains at home next weekend, hosting Ball State on Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall. Admission to the contest is free.
For more information on the Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.