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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Feb. 14, 2005 - The fourth-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team brings a 12-match winning streak back to Rec Hall on Friday, Feb. 25 when it takes on NYU at 7:00 p.m. The Nittany Lions then host Springfield at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26 in the South Gym of Rec Hall. Admission to both matches is free. Gametracker will be available for the match against NYU on Friday at www.GoPSUsports.com.
Last Time Out
Penn State claimed three wins last week to improve to 12-2 for the season. The Nittany Lions swept Juniata (30-18, 30-21, 30-24) on Tuesday, IPFW (30-28, 30-26, 30-22) on Friday and Ohio State (30-24, 30-20, 30-21) on Saturday.
Sophomore outside hitter Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) and junior opposite Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) led Penn State over the Eagles with 12 and 11 kills, respectively, while sophomore outside hitter Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.) set a career-high with five service aces.
Versus the Mastodons at the Rutgers-Newark Golden Dome Classic, Proper again led the squad with 17 kills while senior middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) chipped in 13. Freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) set a new Penn State record for digs in a rally-scoring match with 18 and Proper and Kowal led the squad with four blocks each. The following night against the Buckeyes, Proper collected 15 kills as Vogel and junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) notched six digs each.
The Violets come into Friday¡¯s match with a 4-5 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the EIVA Tait after dropping a four-game contest to Rutgers-Newark on Feb. 22. Sophomore outside hitter Macnair Sillick leads the team with 3.74 kills per game as freshman middle hitter Jon Wintermeyer and sophomore outside hitter Brandon Mortenson chip in 2.37 and 2.64 kpg, respectively. Senior setter Leeor Alon directs the offense with 12.85 assists per game while senior libero Anthony Spangler leads the defense with 1.85 digs per game. Junior middle hitter Chris Schmidt heads the blocking chart with 1.06 blocks per game. As a team, NYU is hitting .232 with 14.83 kills per game, 1.46 service aces per game, 7.74 digs per game and 2.87 blocks per game.
Penn State leads the series with NYU, 5-0. The last meeting was a three-game Nittany Lion win (30-21, 30-9, 30-27) on Feb. 21, 2003.
The Pride enter the weekend with a 4-7 mark for the season and a 1-3 conference record. Senior outside hitter Brandon Mueller leads the team with 4.35 kills per game while freshman outside hitter Eric Palumbo chips in 2.73 kills per game. Freshman setter Chris Shekell directs the offense with 7.50 assists per game and senior libero Eduardo Stawinski tops the defense with 2.33 digs per game. Senior middle hitter Jake Voorhies leads the team blocking front with 1.17 blocks per game as senior middle hitter Ricky Albano adds 0.95 bpg. As a team, Springfield is hitting .243 with 13.49 kills per game, 1.28 service aces per game, 6.85 digs per game and 2.24 blocks per game.
Penn State leads the series with Springfield, 25-0. The previous meeting this season was a three-game Nittany Lion win (30-28, 30-12, 30-24) on Feb. 4, 2005.
Kowal Named Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week
Senior Keith Kowal was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I-II men¡¯s volleyball National Player of the Week on Feb. 22. The honor is the second of Kowal¡¯s career, as he was honored last season on Feb. 23. Kowal¡¯s award marks the second national honor for Penn State this season, as junior Matt Proper picked up the accolade on Feb. 7, and it is the eighth National Player of the Week honor ever for a Nittany Lion.
Kowal was named to the Golden Dome Classic All-Tournament team after leading the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions to sweeps of IPFW (30-28, 30-26, 30-22) and No. 12 Ohio State (30-24, 30-20, 30-21). Earlier in the week, Kowal was also vital in Penn State¡¯s three-game victory over Juniata (30-18, 30-21, 30-24).
Earlier in the week against Juniata, the 6-7 middle racked up six kills on an errorless 13 swings to hit .462. Kowal also was a force at the net, recording eight blocks, including three solo efforts. Versus IPFW on Friday night, Kowal provided 13 kills and hit .545 with four blocks for 15.0 points, and against the Buckeyes on Saturday night, he recorded six kills and three blocks. For the weekend, Kowal averaged 2.78 kills per game while hitting .489 with 0.44 digs per game and 1.67 blocks per game.
Who Needs Experience??
In only his first year, freshman libero Gary Vogel has already made a big mark on the Penn State record books. In his second collegiate match ever, he tied the Penn State rally-scoring-era for digs in a match with 17 against Brigham Young on Jan. 6 at the Hawaii Outrigger Invitational. The record was previously set by All-American and Penn State career-digs record holder Ricky Mattei on March 1, 2001 against Ball State and again at Hawaii on Jan. 8, 2004. At Ball State on Jan. 21, Vogel again tied the record with 17 digs.
Then against IPFW on Feb. 18 at the Rutgers-Newark Golden Dome Classic, Vogel surpassed the 17-dig mark, gathering 18 in the three-game win over the Mastodons to set the record for rally-scoring matches. The Penn State single-match dig record is 23, set by Tom Gingrich vs. Cal St. Northridge on March 9, 1991.
Of his 14 collegiate matches played, Vogel has produced six double-digit dig outings and is averaging a team-high 2.47 digs per game. He stands at 136 digs for the season, just 162 digs shy of becoming the all-time single-season digs leader (297 - Robert Pierce, 1988).
Kowal Making Mark On Block Assists Chart
Senior middle hitter Keith Kowal is leaving his mark on the career block assists chart. He currently sits at 380, good for second on the list and just 11 shy of becoming the all-time leader (Ramon Hernandez, 1991-94 holds the record of 390).
Penn State Versus The EIVA
The Nittany Lions are 3-0 in Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) matches this season. Penn State is hitting .357 in EIVA matches with 15.80 kills per game, 1.90 service aces per game, 9.60 digs per game and 4.80 blocks per game. Alex Gutor leads the team against conference opponents with 4.60 kills per game as Matt Proper chips in 4.10 kpg. Keith Kowal leads the squad with 2.83 blocks per game as Proper and Nate Meerstein posted an average of 1.60 bpg and Dan O¡¯Dell adds 1.33 bpg.
Penn State Versus The MIVA
The Nittany Lions are 6-0 in matches against the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA). Penn State defeated Lewis 3-2 (Jan. 7), Ball State 3-2 (Jan. 21), IPFW 3-1 (Jan. 22), Ohio State 3-1 (Jan. 29), IPFW 3-0 (Feb. 18) and Ohio State 3-0 (Feb. 19). The Lions are hitting .290 against MIVA opponents with 15.46 kills per game, 9.62 digs per game and 3.50 blocks per game. Matt Proper leads the squad with 4.08 kills per game and libero Gary Vogel is averaging 3.04 digs per game. Nate Meerstein leads the blocking front with 1.46 bpg and Kowal adds 1.21 bpg.
Penn State Versus The MPSF
The Nittany Lions are 2-2 in matches versus the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). Penn State dropped five-game contests to Hawaii (Jan. 5) and Brigham Young (Jan. 6) before defeating BYU in five games (Feb. 5) and downing Southern California in three games (Feb. 12). The Lions are hitting .338 with 14.28 kills per game and 2.89 digs per game. Alex Gutor and Matt Proper put away 3.50 and 3.39 kills per game while Nate Meerstein averages 1.22 blocks per game against MPSF opponents.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.