No. 1 Men's Volleyball Faces No. 7 Ohio State In NCAA Semifinals Thursday
April 30, 2008
IRVINE, Calif. -
The top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team (28-1) will face No. 7 Ohio State (20-7) Thursday in the NCAA National Semifinals at 6:00 p.m. PT (9:00 p.m.) at the Bren Events Center on the campus of UC Irvine in Irvine, Calif. The winner of the contest will face the winner of the other NCAA National Semifinal between No. 2 Pepperdine and No. 3 Long Beach State, slated for Thursday at 8:00 p.m. PT (11:00 p.m. ET). The NCAA National Championship contest will be held Saturday, May 3 at 4:00 p.m. PT (7:00 p.m. ET).
All three contests will have Gametracker and will be aired live on ESPN2 and the Nittany Lions can also be heard on the web at www.GoPSUsports.com and in the State College area on WRSC 1390 AM.
Previewing Penn State
The Series: Penn State vs. Ohio State
The Series Versus Possible NCAA Championship Opponents
Day One Quotes - Penn State
Head Coach - Mark Pavlik:
"We are coming off a year where we had some decent success in all aspects of our game. I think this weekend the word is familiarity. I don't think there is anything Ohio State has done that we haven't seen and conversely I don't think we have done anything Ohio State hasn't seen. This is our Big Ten rivalry.
Regarding the fact Ohio State has faced LBSU and PSU this season "I think the Long Beach match showed us the ability to compete at a high level. We had Ohio State early in the year and then late in March. I think against Ohio State we had them at our place and were on a roll. We are just getting better, and better and better...from spring break until now."
Regarding George Mason loss "I don't think our focus was ever on an undefeated season. We were following the idea of what is in front of us, whether it is practice or a game. We didn't do much talking about what we wanted to do in the future. They stayed pretty grounded. George Mason put us in the most hostel environments we played in this year. Had they gone out there on the national circuit and played a tougher schedule there would have been more upsets. I think the guys refocused and kept going one at a time."
Regarding setter Luke Murray "His distribution has been what we wanted. He gets everyone involved in the offense. If you go back over the course of the season, Luke has been able to set it up where anyone can get the ball at crunch time. They know he is going to make some pretty good decisions. The one thing the team doesn't have to worry about is the second contact. Luke deflects the pressure a little bit."
Matt Anderson: Regarding NCAA Tournament experience " Experience comes with juggling our school work. We are in our last week of class with finals when we get back. We took care of all our classes last week so we can get out here and focus on the tournament."
Regarding Penn State-Ohio State matchup "It is a friendly competition during the season, but now it is straight competition."
Luke Murray: Regarding NCAA Tournament experience "Going through the whole process of the championship weekend is a good experience. Having gone through it before allows us to focus on the game."
Regarding George Mason loss "It gave us that hunger to not want to lose ever again. I think everyone was pretty well pissed off and it lit a fire under us again."
Max Holt: Regarding Penn State-Ohio State matchup " I feel we see Ohio State every month. Even though there is no Big Ten in volleyball, Penn State-Ohio State always factors into everything. We are pretty good friends with a few guys on the team."
Day One Quotes - Ohio State
Head Coach - Peter Hanson:
"First of all, we're very pleased to be here. We had a very nice weekend back in Columbus to get through the MIVA Championship. Penn State is a team that we're somewhat familiar with, and we're looking forward to playing on them"
On how to beat Penn State: "We plan to really focus on their players, particularly those two middle blockers, and Matt Anderson who is a great player. And we can't forget about Sweitzer, who's an excellent opposite. Our plan is to slow down the first three guys that I talked about, and do things well on our side of the net."
On playing Penn State previously: "I think that we clearly had a chance at our place, had a swing to win a game but made an error. At their place, it was a streaky match. They came out of the gate strong, but once we got our feet under us, we played well in the second game. After the long break between games two and three, they came back, got the momentum back and played well. I think what we learned from that was that we need to extend the way we played in that second game for a longer period of time."
On winning their last eight: "I think the biggest thing is from mid-March on, we've put the same six to seven guys on the court every night. We've really fallen into a rhythm. You know the same guys are going to play and play at a high level, and that gives you confidence."
Brett Versen: On how to beat Penn State: "We're got to serve tough, and take them out of what their doing. We also can't let them get into a groove, move through those three guys [Lipsitz, Holt, Anderson], like coach said."
Daniel Matthews: On taking a game against Penn State: "We try to go in every match with the same amount of confidence, whether last time we won 3-0 or lost in 3. I think that once you've won one game against someone, then you can win two, and from there, anything can happen."
On playing in the Final Four previously: "Every season, you have the same goal; making the Final Four and trying to win it. When we went before it gave us a taste of volleyball at the highest level, so to end my career here is not only a great honor, but also a great opportunity."
Day One Quotes - Pepperdine
Head Coach - Marv Dunphy:
"We had to play three matches against three good teams on the road to get here. We were able to grind out some wins and are pleased to be here. We hope to grind out a few more."
"We would obviously like to have more blocks than the other guys, but I think the hitting percentage and service and receiving battles are better indicators."
"We are the little guy in this deal. The university community expects men's volleyball to be good and I think that is an honor. I think that is an honor to carry it forward."
Regarding MPSF tournament game against Long Beach "Long Beach has a great team. We know their players and staff and have great respect for them. All year long they had great numbers and were a great team. It always fun to win in overtime games, especially in five I know we are playing them again and hopefully they are just as good and hopefully we are just as good. You just have to treat each game as a separate entity. Hopefully tomorrow we will be ready to roll."
Regarding have the upper hand after already beating Long Beach State "I tend to be reality-based and factual. It is basically whoever wins the serving-receiving battle and had the higher hitting percentage normally wins the match."
Regarding Paul Carroll injury earlier this season "Just play with the hand that you are dealt. Matt McKee did a great job when Paul was out. You always plan on doing your best and winning and if it doesn't go your way, then it doesn't go your way. Matt had some good numbers and was key when Paul was gone."
JD Schleppenbach: Regarding experience from last year's semifinal match "It just has been really different from last year than this year. Last year was basically fine tuning things. This year it is more new guys so it is exciting to have something different. The only thing I bring back from last year is the excitement of being here which gives me motivation for this year."
Jonathan Winder: Regarding have the upper hand after already beating Long Beach State "We see it the same way as players. It comes down to how you perform, the past numbers don't matter."
Regarding experience from previous tournaments "It's exciting to be here. My freshman year I came into a team that was really good. I was just a player that came in and helped them get together. This year, having a totally new team and able to get back here is great. It is exciting to continue playing volleyball."
Regarding playing in his hometown "I have lived here along time so there will be a lot of people here. It will be cool to play in front of them (my family) and to see them after the game."
Day One Quotes - Long Beach State
On playing Pepperdine "I think that there's so many different things that happen over the course of the year. They had a big guy missing the first time we played, we had a lot of guys banged up at their place, and the tournament match was a different match as well. There's a lot of things that go on beginning, middle, and the end of the year, but ultimately, Thursday night is the match that matters."
On championship hopes "It didn't matter who we played - order doesn't matter, you have to win two. I don't think there's any team that's going to lack motivation at this time of the year. There's a lot of teams that missed the tournament, and lots of players are at home that would want to still be playing."
On freshman setter Mike Klipsh "Setting is a very important part of a team's success, and the other teams have All-American Seniors. We have a lot of confidence in Mike though; he was the MPSF Freshman of the Year and deserved it. More than having just individual strengths, Mike is collection of parts. What he has to fall back on is that he has a lot of guys that he can set, and there's a calming effect that goes over Mike because he doesn't have to rely on one guy, or one set. He has a knack for setting the right guy, and in the right situations."
On making the Final Four "As a coach, this is the kind of life experience that we want to pass along. These are great opportunities for our guys, and I'm sure that they're ready to play"
Paul Lotman: On the Bren Events Center "I think this is one of the best atmospheres. Two years ago, [at the MPSF Championships] it felt like were playing in the [Walter] Pyramid, and it's in Southern California, the hotbed of men's volleyball. I'm excited to see how many people and fans will come out this weekend."
Dean Bittner: On making the Final Four "I saw the final four at Long Beach State when I was in high school, and I never thought that I would be somewhere playing with teams of this caliber. I'm just really excited to be here."
Dan Alexander: On Klipsh "He has evolved throughout the season, and I'm very comfortable with how he sets, and I think that shows in the success we've had late in the season and making the Final Four."
On the senior leadership for a young team "I came in and I'm still new to volleyball, and those guys really helped me out a lot. Anything that we're having trouble with, we can go to those guys. When we have tough times in games, those are the guys that come in and say `We can do this.'"
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.