Men¡¯s Volleyball Tops UC San Diego, 3-1
La Jolla, Calif., March 4, 2005 ¨C The fourth-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team topped UC San Diego in four games (31-33, 30-18, 30-17, 30-27) Friday night in La Jolla, Calif. The Nittany Lions improve to 15-2 and run their winning streak to 15 matches.
Junior Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) led the Lions with 20 kills, 10 of which came in the fourth game alone. Junior Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) produced 15 kills while hitting .583 and senior Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) notched 12 kills on an errorless 18 attempts to hit .667. Sophomore Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) connected on 10 of his 14 attempts while sophomore Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.) posted nine kills. Junior Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who saw his first action since Jan. 7 because of symptoms of a concussion, recorded two kills and two digs in a game and a half.
Junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) dished out 55 assists while Gutor led the team with three service aces. Freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) posted a match-high 15 digs while Gutor posted eight and Smith recorded seven.
Penn State won the blocking battle, 16.0 to 5.5. Kowal led the Lions with eight stuffs while Smith and Meerstein added six apiece, Proper chipped in five and O¡¯Dell tallied four.
For UC San Diego, Luke Honnette posted 17 kills while Brooks Dierdorff recorded 47 assists. Honnette also led the squad with nine digs and John Mark Wendler topped the squad with three blocks.
A Proper kill tied the game at 3-3 in the first stanza and sparked a 4-0 Penn State run, aided by a block from Proper and Kowal, a Proper kill and a triple block from Proper, Kowal and Smith, to put the Lions up 6-3. But the Tritons scored three of the next four points to pull within one at 7-6. A UCSD service and attack error put Penn State up three at 9-6 before the Tritons rattled off four of the next five points to tie the game at 10-10. The teams traded points several times before UC San Diego went on a 9-2 run to take the 22-18 advantage. Aided by a Triton service errors and back to back blocks from Kowal and Gutor, Penn State pulled within one at 22-21. Following a Triton timeout, back to back UCSD attack errors and a block from Kowal and O¡¯Dell put Penn State up 24-22. But back to back Triton kills knotted the score at 24-24. The teams traded points four times and a UC San Diego block gave it game point at 29-28. Following a Penn State timeout, a Meerstein put-away tied the game at 29-29 but a Nittany Lion service error again gave the Tritons the lead at 30-29. A Meerstein kill tied the game at 30-30 but was quickly followed by a UCSD kill. A Triton service error knotted the score at 31-31 before back to back UC San Diego kills gave the Tritons the game, 33-31. Proper led the Lions with five kills as Gutor and Meerstein collected three each. Penn State also recorded 5.5 team blocks, led by Kowal with five block assists. The Nittany Lions outhit UC San Diego, .241 to .179, but allowed three service aces without recording any.
Back to back Meerstein kills put the Lions up 6-3 in the second game before consecutive Penn State errors brought the Tritons to within one at 6-5. The teams exchanged points several times before a block from Meerstein and Smith followed by a triple block from Meerstein, O¡¯Dell and Smith aided in Penn State taking the 16-11 advantage. UCSD scored three of the next four points to pull within three at 17-14 but kills from Meerstein and Gutor put the Lions up 19-14. Following a Triton kill, a Kowal kill followed by a triple block from Kowal, Proper and Gutor and a double block by Kowal and Proper put Penn State up 22-15. The teams traded points and back to back Gutor kills and a Smith put-away gave the Lions the 26-16 lead before a Meerstein kill ended the game, 30-19. Meerstein led the Lions with seven kills in the set while Kowal added six. Penn State hit .593 in the game while holding the Tritons to a .129 attacking percentage.
A Smith kill off the tape and another off an overpass sparked a 5-2 Penn State run to start the third game up 8-4. The teams exchanged points three times before a Proper kill extended the lead to 12-7. Back to back kills from Gutor and Meerstein put the Lions up 18-12 and following a UC San Diego kill, a Triton service ace and an ace from sophomore Ryan Walthall (Irvine, Calif.) were followed by a block from O¡¯Dell and Kowal and an O¡¯Dell kill to put Penn State ahead 22-13. Following a UCSD timeout and a Triton kill out of the break, kills from Wentzel and Kowal put Penn State up 24-14. The teams traded kills three times before a block from Meerstein and Smith gave the Lions the 27-17 advantage. Two UCSD attack errors and a kill from Meerstein ended the game, 30-17. Smith led the Lions with five kills while Proper and Gutor added four each. Penn State attacked at an astounding .720 clip (19-1-25) while holding UCSD to hitting .125.
Game four remained close early with an O¡¯Dell kill putting Penn State ahead 9-6. A Triton kill and a Penn State service error trimmed the Lion lead to one at 9-8. A kill from sophomore Kyle Masterson (South Barrington, Ill.) put Penn State on top by two, 10-8, but a UCSD kill and a Penn State attack error knotted the game at 10-10. The game remained even, with a Proper kill tying the score at 20-20. A block from Meerstein and Smith put the Lions up 21-20 but a Triton kill again tied the score at 21-21. Put-aways from Proper and Meerstein put Penn State back on top by two, 23-21, and forced a Triton timeout. Out of the break, UCSD scored four of the next six points to knot the game at 25-25. But Penn State responded with a kill from Proper and a Gutor ace to take the 27-25 lead. The teams traded points and a Triton attack error gave Penn State match-point at 29-26. Following a UC San Diego kill, a Gutor put-away ended the game, 30-27. Proper led the Lions with 10 kills on 19 attempts while hitting .421 in the stanza.
Penn State takes on UC Irvine on Saturday, March 5 to complete action in the UC San Diego Invitational. The Nittany Lions then travel north to take on No. 1 UCLA on Tuesday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. PT (10:00 p.m. ET). Penn State returns home on Friday, March 12 to host IPfW at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall.
Please visit www.GoPSUsports.com for more information on the Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team.