No. 4 Penn State Men¡¯s Volleyball Falls To No. 1 UCLA, 3-0
Los Angeles, Calif., March 8, 2005 ¨CThe fourth-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team fell to No. 1 UCLA in three games (30-22, 30-27, 30-28) Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The loss snaps the Nittany Lions¡¯ 16-match winning streak and drops Penn State¡¯s record to 16-3 overall while the Bruins improve to 17-2.
Junior opposite Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) led all players with 17 kills on .433 hitting while junior outside hitter Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) tallied 10 kills on 12 attempts to hit .750 for the match. As a team, Penn State outhit UCLA, .318 to .265.
Junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) dished out 20 assists in just over two games while freshman setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) directed the offense for a game and a half with 18 assists.
Freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) led the Lions with eight digs as Proper added six.
Penn State outblocked UCLA 15.5 to 6.0, led by junior middle hitter Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) with seven blocks. Senior middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) posted six blocks, Proper chipped in five while sophomore Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.) and Murray notched four blocks each, a career-high for Murray.
Game one remained close early on, with a kill from Proper and a block from Kowal and Gutor giving Penn State the 9-7 lead. The teams traded points twice and another kill from Proper pushed the advantage to three at 12-9. But UCLA scored nine of the next 11 points to take the 18-14 lead. Following an O¡¯Dell kill, a Nittany Lion serving and ball-handling error gave the Bruins the 20-15 lead. The teams exchanged points three times before a kill from Proper and a block from Meerstein and Proper trimmed the UCLA lead to four at 24-20. But the Bruins rattled off the next four points to grab the 28-20 lead before a UCLA overpass kill ended the game, 30-22. Proper led the Lions with five kills as Wentzel chipped in two. Penn State recorded five blocks in the stanza, led by Proper and Kowal with three each.
UCLA claimed the 9-6 lead on a service ace to start the second game. The teams traded points twice and kills from Kowal and Wentzel closed the gap to one at 11-10. The teams again exchanged points before the Bruins went on a run, scoring the next four points to take the 16-11 lead. But a kill from Meerstein, a block from Meerstein and Smith and another one from Murray, Meerstein and Smith closed the gap to two at 16-14. Following a Bruin timeout, UCLA scored the next three points to go up 19-14. The squads exchanged points twice before another UCLA kill pushed their lead to 22-16. The teams traded points again and consecutive kills from Kowal, Smith and Proper trimmed the Bruin lead to three at 23-20. Following a UCLA kill, a Kowal kill and a block from Meerstein, Proper and Smith pulled Penn State to within two at 24-22. The teams traded points and a Proper service ace put the Nittany Lions down one, 25-24. A UCLA attack error knotted the score at 25-25 and two more ties ensued before two UCLA kills and a block ended the game, 30-27. Kowal led the Lions with five kills as Meerstein posted four blocks in the stanza.
The Bruins claimed the early 7-5 lead in the third game before back to back Proper kills knotted the score at 7-7. A UCLA kill put them up 8-7 and the teams traded points before a Smith kill and a Bruin attack error tied the score at 11-11 and two Proper kills put the Lions up 13-11. Following a Bruin timeout, UCLA scored six of the next eight points to take the 17-15 lead and force a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, a Smith kill pulled the Lions to within one at 17-16 and the teams traded points before a Meerstein solo block and another block from Wentzel and Meerstein put the Lions up, 19-18. A UCLA kill knotted the score at 19-19 and two ties ensued before back to back Bruin attack errors gave the Nittany Lions the 23-21 advantage. But two UCLA kills tied the game at 23-23 and forced a Penn State timeout. Five ties ensued before a Bruin kill and service ace ended the game, 30-28.
Penn State returns home on Saturday, 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.