Penn State Men's Volleyball Downs Rutgers-Newark, 3-0
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 29, 2003 - The ninth-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team defeated Rutgers-Newark in three games (30-23, 30-19, 30-24) Saturday night to improve to 19-5 on the season and a perfect 11-0 in EIVA conference play. The Scarlet Raiders fall to 11-3 and 7-4 in league action.
"As the match went on, we picked up our intensity and raised our level of play," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "Defensively, we made things look easy and we scrambled to get the ball very well."
Junior Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) led Penn State with 12 kills on an errorless 14 swings to hit .857 on the night while senior Zeljko Koljesar (Kitchener, Ontario) chipped in nine kills and eight other Nittany Lions added at least one kill. As a team, Penn State outhit Rutgers-Newark, .500 to .209 and led in the kill column, 52 to 38. The Scarlet Raiders were led by Andrew Pink with 12 kills.
Freshman setter Dan O'Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) dished out 30 assists in two games to lead the offense with junior Nate Matthews (Rochester, N.Y.) directing action in the third game to end with 11 assists.
Junior libero Ricky Mattei (San Juan, Puerto Rico) led the squad with seven digs while nine other Nittany Lions recorded at least one dig. Penn State outdug Rutgers-Newark, 24 to 23.
The Nittany Lions also won the battle behind the service line, recording six service aces to Rutgers-Newark's five. Both Matthews and Koljesar notched two aces while senior Carlos Guerra (Tamaulipus, Mexico) and redshirt freshman Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) both recorded one.
Penn State dominated the blocking game, 12.0 to 3.0, led by junior Norm Keil (St. James, N.Y.) with five blocks while Koljesar added four and Kowal and redshirt freshman Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) both recorded three.
Koljesar opened the match with an ace but Rutgers-Newark answered back with a kill from Pink to tie the score. The teams traded points several times before Penn State took the lead at 14-13. The Scarlet Raiders pulled to within one at 17-16 on a block by Henry Richardson and Danko Iordanov but Kowal answered with a kill to put the Lions up two. A kill from Kowal ended the game at 30-23. Kowal and Guerra posted five and four kills in the game, respectively with Keil adding two blocks. Penn State outhit Rutgers-Newark .481 to .250 in the set.
Penn State jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second game and carried the momentum through the rest of the game, going up 11-4 on a Koljesar kill. The Scarlet Raiders fought back to within four at 14-10 aided by back-to-back service aces but the run was halted by a Keil kill. The Nittany Lions then went on a 11-4 run capped by a block from Koljesar and Keil. A Guerra kill ended the game at 30-19. Kowal was a perfect five-for-five in the game while Koljesar also connected on all four of his attempts. Penn State outblocked Rutgers-Newark in the game, 5.5 to 0.0.
Rutgers-Newark took the lead in the third game, 10-8, before a solo block by Meerstein followed by another by Meerstein block, this time coupled with Koljesar, tied the game at 10-10. A see-saw battle ensued before Penn State took the 19-18 advantage on a kill from Matthews assisted by junior Richard Schneider (Virginia Beach, Va.). Penn State steadily widened the gap, going up 23-19 on a kill from junior Alex Weaver (Monroeville, Pa.). A kill from freshman Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) gave the Lions the 28-24 lead before a Matthews tip kill ended the game at 30-24. Proper ended the game with five kills while Schneider added four as Penn State outhit Rutgers-Newark, .448 to .161.
The Nittany Lions remain at home next weekend, facing Princeton on April 4 at 7:30 p.m. before taking on Concordia on April 5 at 4:00 p.m.
Please visit www.GoPSUsports for updated news and statistics on the Penn State men's volleyball team.