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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.– A trio of former Penn State men’s volleyball All-Americans will be playing for the Bronze medal on Sunday at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Matt Anderson, Max Holt and Aaron Russell have played an instrumental role for the United States Men’s National Team, which fell to Italy, 3-2, in a thrilling semifinal on Friday afternoon. The U.S. will face the loser of the Brazil-Russia match (which begins Friday at 9:15 p.m.) in Sunday’s Bronze medal contest. The match begins Sunday at 8:00 a.m. ET and will air on USA Network.
The trio of Nittany Lions will be seeking to win the first Olympic medals by members of the Penn State men’s volleyball program. Penn State’s three U.S. men’s volleyball squad members are the most among all colleges and universities.
Anderson, Holt and Russell be looking to help the U.S. Men’s Volleyball team earn an Olympic medal for the fifth time overall since 1984. The U.S. won Gold in 1984, 1988 and 2008 and Bronze in 1992. Russell came into the semifinals as the second leading scorer in the 2016 Olympic tournament with 80 kills. Anderson was a member of the 2012 U.S. squad and Holt was an alternate.
From West Seneca, N.Y., outside hitter Anderson was the 2008 AVCA Co-Player of the Year in leading Penn State to the 2008 NCAA Championship. A middle blocker from Cincinnati, Holt was a two-time first-team All-American who also helped the Nittany Lions capture the 2008 national title. From Ellicott City, Md., outside hitter Russell also was a two-time first-team All-American, playing for Coach Mark Pavlik.
On Saturday, former Penn State women’s volleyball All-Americans Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen and Alisha Glass will be looking to help the U.S. Women’s National Team earn the Bronze medal. The U.S. faces the Netherlands Saturday at 12 p.m. on MSNBC. Megan (Hodge) Easy and another former Penn State standout, Nicole Fawcett, are alternates on the 2016 U.S. women’s volleyball squad.
Penn State has a school record contingent of 25 in Rio, which includes 18 competitors (16 student-athletes), three coaches and four alternates, representing the United States, Mexico, Ireland, Japan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With 12 first-time competitors in Rio, the Nittany Lions have had a total of 109 student-athlete Olympians all-time.
Penn State’s 12 active competitors on Team USA leads the Big Ten and are tied for No. 6 among all colleges and universities, according to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The Nittany Lions are tied with Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon and Princeton with 12 Team USA members for the Rio Olympics.
The Nittany Lions’ Rio competitors have earned three medals thus far: -On Thursday night, Joe Kovacs, the 2015 World Champion, won the Silver in the shot put, Penn State’s first individual Silver since Mike Shine in the 400 meter hurdles in 1976. -Former fencing All-American Miles Chamley-Watson delivered the 30th Olympic medal by a Penn State student-athlete on August 12, as he helped the United States men’s foil team defeat Italy to win the bronze medal. -Another fencing All-American, Monica Aksamit, helped the U.S. women’s saber squad also beat Italy to win the bronze medal on Aug. 13, earning the Nittany Lions’ 31st Olympic medal all-time.
The final Nittany Lion to begin competition is Frank Molinaro, who won’t take to the wrestling mat until Sunday, the final day of the Rio Olympics. Action begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with coverage on USA Network, with the finals starting at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN. A Penn State assistant wrestling coach and 2012 NCAA Champion, Molinaro won the U.S. Olympic Trials title in the 65kg men’s freestyle wrestling. Molinaro also captured the Freestyle World Cup title at 65kg in June.
The closing ceremonies for the Rio Olympics are Sunday night.
Not including the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, where 65 countries did not participate, Penn State has sent athletes to each Summer Olympics since 1948, a streak of 17 consecutive Games. Penn State sent a then-school record 17 competitors and coaches to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In addition to the NBC Television networks, coverage of the Olympics can also be found on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports App.
The complete schedule for Penn State Athletics’ competitors and coaches and more can be found at the Nittany Lions’ Rio Olympics Central: http://www.gopsusports.com/olympians/rio-2016.html