No. 3 Men¡¯s Volleyball Pounds Princeton, 3-0
University Park, Pa., April 9, 2005 - The third-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team defeated Princeton in three games, 30-23, 30-22, 30-20, Saturday night to improve to 26-3 and 11-0 in the EIVA. The Tigers fall to 6-12, 3-9 in conference action.
¡°We played well in spurts but we weren¡¯t really focused,¡± said head coach Mark Pavlik. ¡°That kind of concerns me, but we were so much more physical [than Princeton] that it wasn¡¯t really a problem for us. A win is a win.¡±
It was only fitting that on Senior Night, middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.), the lone senior on the squad, became Penn State¡¯s career blocking leader with five stuffs in the match. He surpassed Ramon Hernandez (1991-1994) for the lead and is now just one block shy of becoming the only player in Nittany Lion men¡¯s volleyball history to reach 500 career blocks. Kowal is only the third Penn State player ever to reach both the 400 career block and 1,000 career kill plateaus, as he has 499 career blocks and 1,023 career kills. He joins Hernandez and Sergio Pampena (1996-1999) as the only players to accomplish the feat. Kowal is also the career hitting percentage leader, attacking at a .525 clip for his career (1,023-163-1,638).
Junior middle hitter Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the squad against Princeton with 10 kills on an errorless 14 swings to hit .714 for the match while Kowal posted nine kills and sophomore Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) notched eight in two games. Also in two games, junior Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) tallied five kills, junior Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) and junior Andy Price (Laytonsville, Md.) notched four apiece and sophomore Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.) tallied three. As a team, nine different players recorded a kill and the Lions hit .402 for the match while holding Princeton to .073.
Junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) directed the offense for the first part of the match, dishing out 19 assists before freshman setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) took over, collecting 23 assists.
Freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) recorded a match-high five digs and is now just 58 digs shy of becoming Penn State¡¯s single-season digs leader.
Smith led the Nittany Lions with a career-high six service aces, including five in a row in the first game.
Penn State outblocked Princeton, 9.0 to 7.0, led by Kowal with five. Gutor recorded three and Smith, Meerstein, Price and Murray all posted two stuffs and Proper and sophomore Kyle Masterson (South Barrington, Ill.) each recorded one.
The Tigers were led by Peter Eichler with 11 kills as Evan Pasion tallied a team-high five blocks.
Penn State takes to the road for its final regular-season match of the year as it faces George Mason in the Uvaldo Acosta Memorial Match on Saturday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Penn State clinched the EIVA regular-season title and will host an EIVA Quarterfinal contest against an opponent yet to be determined on Saturday, April 23 (Blue-White Football weekend). The Nittany Lions will also host the EIVA Semifinals and Championship on Thursday and Saturday, April 28 and 30 at Rec Hall for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship Semifinals, hosted by UCLA on Thursday, May 5. The National Championship match is slated for Saturday, May 7. The EIVA Championship match will be televised live on CSTV at 7:15 p.m. ET.