No. 9 Penn State Men¡¯s Volleyball Defeats No. 15 IPFW, 3-1
University Park, Pa., April 11, 2003 The ninth-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team used a season-high 21 blocks to defeat 15th-ranked IPFW in four games (30-22, 30-23, 27-30, 30-23) Friday night in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions improve to 22-5 on the season while the Mastodons fall to 13-9.
¡°We served and blocked really well, as well as we have all year,¡± said head coach Mark Pavlik. ¡°When you serve as aggressively as we did tonight, you¡¯re going to have that many service errors. A win is a win, and I¡¯m happy with that.¡±
The 21 blocks shatters the previous season-high of 16.5 recorded against Southern California on March 14. Junior Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) posted a career-high 12 blocks, setting a new Penn State rally-scoring era record and falling one shy of the all-time record of 13 blocks set by Kevin Hourican against Rutgers-Newark on Feb. 25, 1995.
Along with Kowal¡¯s 12 blocks, senior Zach Slenker (Dallastown, Pa.) recorded seven blocks while freshman Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) and junior Norm Keil (St. James, N.Y.) both posted six.
Senior Carlos Guerra (Tamaulipus, Mexico) led all players with 20 kills while Kowal and senior Zeljko Koljesar (Kitchener, Ontario) both tallied 13 kills and Keil chipped in 11. Kowal¡¯s 12 blocks and 13 kills marks Penn State¡¯s third double-double of the season and the first of Kowal¡¯s career.
As a team, Penn State outhit IPFW, 341 to .150 while recording 70 kills to the Mastodons¡¯ 47.
O¡¯Dell directed the Nittany Lion offense with 44 assists while IPFW¡¯s Dennis Santiago recorded 37 assists for his team. Thirteen of Penn State¡¯s 70 kills were unassisted.
Both teams recorded 27 digs, with Koljesar and Guerra leading the way for the Lions with five apiece. O¡¯Dell and junior libero Ricky Mattei (San Juan, Puerto Rico) both chipped in four while Slenker added three. IPFW¡¯s Matt Zbyszewski led all players with eight digs.
Jeff Ptak led the Mastodons with 11 kills in three games while Zbyszewski and Arcangel Ruiz both tallied nine.
The first game featured seven ties before Penn State took the 9-8 lead on a block from O¡¯Dell and Koljesar. The Nittany Lions used a 6-2 run to take the 15-10 lead on a triple block from Keil, Slenker and O¡¯Dell before back to back kills from Guerra made the score 21-16. A block from Guerra and Kowal ended the game at 30-22. Guerra recorded seven kills in the game while Kowal posted three blocks. Penn State outhit IPFW .576 to .333 for the game.
Game two began much like the first, with a kill from Slenker breaking the 10-10 tie. Perhaps the play of the evening was made by Slenker, who after attacking the ball into the IPFW block on the outside, covered the ball with his foot up into the air. A Mastodon attack error on the play gave Penn State the 14-12 lead. A Koljesar kill forced an IPFW timeout at 22-15. A Slenker service ace ended the game at 30-23.Guerra posted six kills on nine attempts while Slenker, Guerra and Koljesar all ended up with one ace. Penn State outhit IPFW .296 to .179 and outblocked the visitors 5.0 to 2.0, led by Kowal with three.
IPFW gained the 6-1 lead behind two blocks and strong serving from Santiago. Penn State pulled to within one at 13-12 aided by a diving one-handed dig from Koljesar that was played over and eventually blocked by Kowal and O¡¯Dell. The teams traded service errors and a Keil kill knotted the score at 14-14. The game remained close, with IPFW earning the slight advantage throughout. A Guerra kill brought Penn State to within one at 23-22 but the Mastodons answered with a kill of their own by Ruiz before taking the third game 30-27 on a Zbyszewski kill. Guerra recorded six kills while Koljesar and Keil both tallied four. IPFW outhit the Lions .296 to .270 and outblocked PSU 4.0 to 3.5.
Penn State grabbed the momentum in the fourth game, blazing out to an 8-3 lead on a block from Slenker and Kowal. Back to back kills from Kowal gave Penn State the 18-8 lead and a kill from junior Richard Schneider (Virginia Beach, Va.) assisted by junior Nate Matthews (Rochester, N.Y.) made the score 20-14. A Schneider kill, assisted by junior Alex Weaver (Monroeville, Pa.), ended the game at 30-23. Slenker and Kowal both posted four blocks in the game while Kowal added five kills. Penn State outhit IPFW .229 to -.081 and outblocked the visitors 7.5 to 4.0.
Prior to the match, nine members of the Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team were honored for Senior Night. Managers Sly Owusu and Neil Brown, along with Guerra, Koljesar, Slenker, Matthews, Keil, Weaver and Schneider have compiled a current record of 91-30 and a 54-1 mark in the EIVA. The group boasts four EIVA regular season titles, three EIVA Tournament titles and three NCAA National Semifinal appearances.
The Nittany Lions close out the regular season by traveling to George Mason on Saturday, April 12 for the last EIVA regular season matchup. Penn State earned the right to host the EIVA Tournament, with the Quarterfinal match taking place on Friday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. The semifinals are Thursday, April 24 with the EIVA Championship match taking place on Saturday, April 26 at 6:00 p.m. The match will be shown live on College Sports Television (CSTV). Call your local cable station for more information on CSTV.
For complete match and season statistics and updates, please visit the men¡¯s volleyball homepage on Penn State¡¯s official athletic website, www.GoPSUsports.com.