No. 2 Men¡¯s Volleyball To Play No. 4 UCLA In NCAA Semifinal
Click here for Penn State men's volleyball NCAA National Semifinal notes (24 pages in PDF format).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., May 2, 2005 ¨C The second-ranked Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team (30-3) will face No. 4 UCLA (25-5) Thursday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m. PT (10:00 p.m. ET) in the NCAA National Semifinal match, hosted by UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The match will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPNU.
The EIVA-champion Nittany Lions earned the second seed in the NCAA Championship while the Bruins earned the third-seed and the at-large bid. The second semifinal match at 8:55 p.m. PT (11:55 p.m. ET) features top-ranked and top-seed Pepperdine (23-2) and No. 10 and fourth-seed Ohio State (24-7). That match will be aired live on ESPNU and will be shown on a tape-delay basis on ESPN2 on Friday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The National Championship match will feature the semifinal winners on Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 p.m. PT (11:00 p.m. ET) at UCLA and will be televised live on ESPN2.
¡°Any time you compete, you want to compete in the hallowed shrines of your sport, which is what Pauley Pavilion and UCLA are,¡± said head coach Mark Pavlik. ¡°That¡¯s what this is about. You have to play good teams with elements against you. We¡¯ve played at UCLA this year and the court is the same size there as it is here. It is what it is, and you just have go out and get ready to play in a national semifinal match.¡±
This will be the second meeting this season between Penn State and UCLA. The then-top-ranked Bruins defeated the Nittany Lions in three games (30-22, 30-27, 30-28) on March 8 in Pauley Pavilion. Since that match, Penn State has won 14 consecutive matches, including the EIVA Championship title contest over George Mason on April 30.
Penn State earned its first 30-win season since 1982 with the win over the Patriots, also capturing its 17th EIVA Championship title and its 20th NCAA Championship bid. The Nittany Lions last won the NCAA National Championship in 1994 with a five-game win over UCLA in Fort Wayne, Ind.
EIVA Player of the Year junior opposite Matt Proper (Guys Mills, Pa.) leads the Nittany Lions with 4.05 kills per game after recording a career-high 26 kills in the EIVA title match. Sophomore outside hitter Alex Gutor (State College, Pa.) posts 3.03 kills per game as junior middle hitter Nate Meerstein (Pittsburgh, Pa.) chips in 2.97 kills per game on .521 hitting. Junior setter Dan O¡¯Dell (Rochester, N.Y.) dishes out an average of 12.61 assists per game as freshman libero Gary Vogel (Lancaster, Pa.) leads the squad with 2.32 digs per game. Senior middle hitter Keith Kowal (Reading, Pa.) tops the team and the nation with 1.73 blocks per game as Meerstein adds 1.41 bpg and Proper posts 1.30 bpg. As a team, Penn State is hitting .367 with 15.39 kills per game, 1.30 service aces per game, 8.45 digs per game and 3.91 blocks per game.
Senior middle hitter Paul Johnson leads UCLA with 3.55 kills per game as sophomore opposite Steve Klosterman chips in 2.88 kills per game. Junior setter Dennis Gonzalez, who directed the offense with 12.05 assists per game, broke his finger prior to the team¡¯s MPSF Quarterfinal match with Cal State Northridge and did not play in the five-game loss. In that match, junior Aaron Dodd directed the offense with 56 assists. Freshman libero Tony Ker leads the team defense with 2.41 digs per game and Johnson leads the blocking front with 1.34 blocks per game. As a team, UCLA is hitting .334 with 15.57 kills per game, 1.38 service aces per game, 9.42 digs per game and 2.83 digs per game.
The Bruins are coached by Al Scates and will be making their record 24th NCAA Championship appearance and their first since 2001. UCLA has won a record 18 NCAA men¡¯s volleyball championships, with their last in 2000. The Bruins are undefeated (24-0) on their home court in NCAA Championship matches in the current four-team format.
MPSF Champion Pepperdine is led by three-time AVCA All-American senior outside hitter Sean Rooney with 5.32 kills per game as sophomore middle hitter John Parfitt chips in 3.65 kills per game and senior John Mayer posts 2.78 kills per game. Freshman Jonathan Winder directs the offense with 13.56 service aces per game as senior libero James Ka leads the defense with 2.53 digs per game. Junior middle hitter Andy Hein heads the blocking chart with 1.60 blocks per game as sophomore middle hitter Tom Hulse posts 1.35 bpg. As a team, Pepperdine is hitting .360 with 16.07 kills per game, 1.19 service aces per game, 9.53 digs per game and 3.56 blocks per game.
The Waves are coached by Marv Dunphy and Pepperdine will be making its 13th NCAA appearance and its third in the last four years. The Waves¡¯ last title came in 1992.
Junior outside hitter Mark Greaves leads MIVA Champion Ohio State with 4.34 kills per game as junior outside hitter Andy Cole chips in 3.77 kills per game. Freshman setter Daniel Matthews dishes out 13.06 assists per game and senior outside hitter Mike Wauligman leads the defense with 1.96 digs per game. Sophomore middle hitter Layne Dreven posts 1.40 blocks per game to lead the squad and senior middle hitter Scott Spurlock chips in 1.20 blocks per game. As a team, Ohio State is hitting .326 with 15.75 kills per game, 1.22 service aces per game, 9.22 digs per game and 3.03 blocks per game.
Ohio State is coached by Pete Hanson and will be making its 14th NCAA Championship appearance and its first since 2001.
Tickets are available for the NCAA Championship and are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket office at 310-825-2946 or online at www.uclabruins.com. Limited amounts of All-Session VIP Packages are available for $75 and include a reserved ticket, parking, pre-match hospitality and a match program. Reserved all-session tickets are $28, adult all-session general admission tickets are $24, and student, youth and senior citizen all-session tickets are $18.
Please visit www.GoPSUsports.com for more information on the Penn State men¡¯s volleyball team.