No. 3 Men¡¯s Volleyball Sweeps No. 14 George Mason, 3-0
Fairfax, Va., April 16, 2005 -- Senior middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) blocked a George Mason hitter to give Penn State the 3-2 lead in the first game and also made history, becoming the first Penn State player ever to record more than 500 career blocks. Kowal, the all-time leader, entered the match with 499 for his career.
Sophomore Aaron Smith (Richmond, Va.) led the Lions with a season-high 13 kills on .688 hitting while junior Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) posted 11 kills. Junior Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recorded nine kills on 12 swings and Kowal posted six kills. As a team, Penn State hit .408 to George Mason¡¯s .207.
Junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) directed the Penn State offense with 39 assists and freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) posted a match-high seven digs as Smith added five.
Penn State outblocked the Patriots 12.0 to 8.5, led by Kowal with five, Proper with four and O¡¯Dell, Smith, Meerstein and sophomore Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) with three each. Junior Kevin Wentzel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) notched two kills and one block in one game of action.
George Mason was led by Shaun Powell with 21 kills as Matt Steinfurth tallied six blocks.
The first game remained even early on with a Smith kill and ace breaking the 8-8 stalemate to spark a 5-0 Penn State run to take the 13-8 lead. But George Mason stormed back to score five of the next seven points to knot the score at 16-16. Three ties ensued before a Meerstein kill, a Mason attack error and a block from Gutor and Kowal put the Lions up 23-20 and forced a Patriot timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded points and a George Mason kill pulled them to within two at 24-22. A Kowal kill was followed by a Mason block, but back to back Patriot errors gave Penn State the 27-23 lead. A triple block from Kowal, Smith and O¡¯Dell made it 28-23 before a Patriot serving error ended the game, 30-24.
A Proper kill and a Mason attack error broke the 9-9 tie in the second game but the Patriots fought back to knot the score at 12-12 on back to back kills. The squads exchanged points six times and a Meerstein kill and a Smith kill on great defense by Vogel put the Lions ahead 21-19. The teams traded points three times and a triple block from O¡¯Dell, Kowal and Smith put Penn State up 28-24 before a Meerstein kill gave Penn State the 30-26 victory.
George Mason took the 5-2 lead to start the third game and maintained the 8-5 advantage on a triple block. Following kills from Smith and Gutor to pull the Lions to within one at 10-9 before the Patriots rattled off the next four points to take the 14-9 lead. But Penn State fought back to score four of the next five points, capped by a triple block from Wentzel, O¡¯Dell and Kowal to pull within two at 15-13. The teams remained close, with a Smith kill, a block from Proper and an ace from O¡¯Dell giving Penn State the 19-18 lead. A Mason kill knotted the score at 19-19 and three ties ensued before a Smith kill off of diving Vogel defense put the Lions up 24-23. The teams traded kills and a Wentzel ace put Penn State ahead, 26-24. A George Mason kill and ace tied the game at 26-26 and a Smith kill gave the Lions the 27-26 lead. The squads traded kills and a Wentzel kill gave Penn State match-point at 29-27 before a Meerstein kill ended the game, 30-28.
Penn State clinched the EIVA regular-season title and will host an EIVA Quarterfinal contest against Harvard on Saturday, April 23 (Blue-White Football weekend) at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall. 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.
For more information on the Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.