Penn State Defeats Pepperdine to Win National Title

5/3/2008

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Irvine, Calif. - Behind a career night from senior setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.), the top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team captured its second National Championship title in school history with a four-game win over No. 2 Pepperdine (27-30, 33-31, 30-25, 30-23) Saturday in Irvine, Calif. The Nittany Lions also became only the second school in NCAA history to have its women's team capture the NCAA National Championship in the fall and the men take home the title in the spring, joining Stanford, who accomplished the feat in the fall of 1996 and the spring of 1997.

Junior outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship and joined teammates Murray, junior middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore middle hitter Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) along with Pepperdine's Paul Carroll, J.D. Schleppenbach and Jonathan Winder on the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team.

In the final match of his career, Murray was nothing short of outstanding. The 6-foot setter recorded his first collegiate triple-double with a season-high 63 assists, a career-high 12 digs and a career-high 11 blocks while leading the Nittany Lions to a team hitting percentage of .407. For the NCAA Championship, Murray directed the Nittany Lions to a combined .409 hitting percentage and for the season, Penn State shattered the previous team hitting percentage record of .384 set by the 1994 National Champions, attacking at a .399 clip for the 2008 campaign.

Anderson led the Nittany Lions with 29 kills on .451 hitting against Pepperdine while Lipsitz set a new career high with 17 kills on .500 hitting. Holt added in 12 kills on .417 hitting while junior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.) contributed 10 kills and Murray added in four.

The unsung hero of the match, freshman libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) recorded a match-high and career-high-tying 16 digs and for the NCAA Championship, Del Valle racked up 30 total digs for an average of 3.75 digs per game. In addition to Murray's 12 digs, junior outside hitter Jay Stauffer (Columbia, Pa.) was also a key part of the Lion defense as he tallied nine digs, one shy of his season best.

Penn State set a new season high for blocks as it racked up 19 total blocks in the contest, including 5.5 in the first game alone. Murray led the way with 11 as Holt tied his career high with nine stuffs, Lipsitz added six, Stauffer equaled his personal-best with four, Anderson added in three, Sweitzer notched two and junior middle hitter Jon Sherrick (Mountville, Pa.) recorded a crucial stuff in the fourth game.

Paul Carroll led the Waves with 35 kills on 74 attacks as J.D. Schleppenbach tallied 15 kills and Corey Riecks notched nine. Jonathan Winder dished out 60 assists as Carroll led the squad with eight digs and Tyler Jaynes topped the blocking list with seven stuffs.

A Murray and Holt blocked opened up the game for the Nittany Lions and a Holt kill and ace put Penn State up 3-2. The Nittany Lions remained on top, going up 8-5 on a Lipsitz kill and ace and Holt and Stauffer block before Holt and Anderson kills gave the Lions the 10-6 lead and forced a Pepperdine timeout. Out of the break, another monster stuff by Holt and Murray, along with a Wave attack error and a Sweitzer ace that rolled along the tape and dropped in, put Penn State up 13-6. Following a Pepperdine kill, a block by Murray and Holt and a triple stuff by Murray, Holt and Anderson made it 15-7 but two Pepperdine kills brought them within six at 15-9. The teams traded kills and a Wave ace and Lion attack error trimmed the Lion lead to four at 16-12 and forced a Penn State timeout. Following a Pepperdine service error out of the break, the Waves scored two more on kills before a Lipsitz kill halted the run. A Lion service error and a questionable Pepperdine ace helped the Waves score seven of the next eight points to pull ahead 21-19 and force a Lion timeout. A monster Anderson kill out of the timeout pulled Penn State within one at 21-20 and the teams traded kills twice before a Pepperdine kill and ace aided them in going up 26-22. Lion put-aways from Lipsitz and Anderson helped Penn State pull within two at 26-24 and following a Wave block, an Anderson kill and a Sweitzer put-away trimmed the gap to 27-26 to force a Pepperdine timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded points before a Wave kill and block gave them the game, 30-27.

Penn State took the 4-1 lead in the second game aided by two Anderson kills and a Murray put-away. A Sweitzer and Lipsitz block made it 6-4 but Pepperdine fought back to tie the game at 6-6 with two kills. Seven ties ensued before a Wave kill off the Nittany Lion block put Pepperdine ahead 15-14 heading into the television timeout. Out of the break, kills from Sweitzer and Anderson along with a block from Holt and Stauffer pushed Penn State ahead 17-15 and caused a Pepperdine timeout. A Lion service error out of the break was quickly followed by kills from Holt and Murray along with a Murray and Holt block to give Penn State the 20-16 lead and force another Wave timeout. Two Pepperdine kills out of the break pulled them within two at 20-18 and the teams traded points four times before another Wave kill trimmed the Lion lead within one at 24-23. Following a Penn State timeout, the squads continued to exchange points, with a Sweitzer kill giving the Lions the 27-25 advantage. But a Penn State attack that landed wide and a Wave service error knotted the game at 27-27 and forced a Lion timeout. Out of the break, a Sweitzer kill put Penn State up 28-27 but Pepperdine responded with a kill and block of its own to swing the momentum and put the Waves ahead 29-28. A Lipsitz kill evened the score and the teams exchanged kills to tie the game at 30-30. Pepperdine followed up an attack error with a kill to make it 31-31 and a Sweitzer kill put Penn State ahead 32-31 before an Anderson kill ended the game, 33-31.

The Nittany Lions took the 5-3 lead in the third game on two Anderson kills and went up 7-6 on another Anderson put-away. The Waves responded with two kills and a block to go ahead 9-7 but a Holt kill and ace helped Penn State tie the game at 10-10. The teams traded points twice before a Sweitzer kill and Lion triple block from Stauffer, Lipsitz and Sweitzer put Penn State up 14-12 and forced a Pepperdine timeout. Out of the break, three more exchanges of points and a Wave attack error gave Penn State the 18-15 advantage before Lion kills from Anderson and Lipsitz pushed the Lion lead to 21-17 and caused another Pepperdine timeout. The squads exchanged errors out of the break and a Sweitzer kill and Stauffer and Lipsitz block put Penn State up 24-18. The Waves came back with two kills and a block before a Holt kill gave the Lions the 25-21 lead but a Pepperdine kill and ace trimmed the Penn State lead to two at 25-23 and forced a Nittany Lion timeout. Out of the break, a Wave attack error gave Penn State the 26-23 lead but Pepperdine responded with two consecutive kills to pull within one at 26-25. An Anderson kill and a Penn State triple block from Anderson, Lipsitz and Murray pushed the Lions up 28-25 before a Wave attack error and another Penn State triple block from Anderson, Lipsitz and Murray ended the game, 30-25.

Penn State jumped out to the quick 6-0 lead to start the fourth game behind a Wave service error, a Murray and Lipsitz block, a Pepperdine attack error and Nittany Lion kills from Lipsitz and Anderson as the Waves used both of their timeouts in the run. Lipsitz kills helped Penn State go up 7-1 and then 10-4 before another Lipsitz put-away made it 14-7. But Pepperdine claimed three of the next four points to pull within four at 15-11 and force a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded points three times before Lion kills from Anderson and Murray and two Pepperdine errors put Penn State ahead 22-14. The Waves took three of the next four points to pull within six at 23-17 and the squads traded service errors, with an Anderson kill making it 25-18 and a Sweitzer kill making it 26-19. A Lion block by Holt and Sherrick made it 27-19 and following a Pepperdine kill, Holt returned the favor to put the Lions ahead 28-20. But the Waves fought back to score the next three points on two kills and an ace to trim the Lion lead to five at 28-23 and force a Penn State timeout. A Murray kill of a scramble play made it 29-23 and a Pepperdine attack that went long gave Penn State the game and the championship, 30-23.

For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.

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NOTES
** The NCAA title was the first for the men's volleyball program since 1994 when Penn State became the first school from outside California to win the title, as the previous 24 titles were won by teams from the Golden State.

** The National Title is the first for head coach Mark Pavlik, who was an assistant coach on the 1994 team that captured the school's first national championship. He brings his own hardware home to enjoy with his wife Heather, who is an associate head coach for the Juniata College women's volleyball team that captured the Division III National Championship titles in 2004 and 2006.

** Matt Anderson becomes Penn State's second-ever NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, joining Ramon Hernandez who earned the honor in 1994. The Nittany Lions have now had 27 players named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team with the 2008 additions of Anderson, Max Holt, Luke Murray and Max Lipsitz.

** Penn State is also the only school outside of California to have its men's and women's programs capture a national championship, as the Nittany Lion women's squad won in 1999 and also this past fall in 2007, outlasting Stanford in five games at Arco Arena in Sacramento on Dec. 15.

** Penn State has won four NCAA championships in the past 14 months: (Men's volleyball (2008), women's volleyball (2007), fencing (2007), men's gymnastics (2007).

** Penn State is just the second school to win the NCAA men's and women's volleyball national title in same academic year, joining Stanford in 1996-97. The NCAA began sponsoring women's volleyball in 1981.

** Penn State Volleyball becomes just the 19th program in NCAA history - in all sports - to have its men's and women's programs capture a national championship in the same academic year. It joins University of Connecticut Basketball (2004), University of Wisconsin Cross Country (1985), Stanford Cross Country (1996, 2003), University of Colorado Cross Country (2004), Wayne State University Fencing (1982), Arizona State University Golf (1990), University of Wisconsin Ice Hockey (2006), Princeton Lacrosse (1994), University of Texas Swimming/Diving (1988, 1990, 1991), Stanford Swimming/Diving (1992, 1993, 1994, 1998), Auburn Swimming Diving (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007), Stanford Tennis (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1997), LSU Indoor Track/Field (2004), LSU Outdoor Track/Field (1989, 1990), Stanford Volleyball (Women's Fall 1996, Men's Spring 1997), Stanford Water Polo (Men's Fall 2001, Women's Spring 2002), University of Southern California Water Polo (Men's Fall 2003, Women's Spring 2004) and UCLA Water Polo (Men's Fall 2004, Women's Spring 2005).

** Senior setter Luke Murray ended his career on an outstanding note, not only with a national title but also with his first collegiate triple-double. The six-foot setter recorded his first collegiate triple-double with a season-high 63 assists, a career-high 12 digs and a career-high 11 blocks.

** Penn State recorded a season-high 19 blocks in the National Championship match against Pepperdine, besting its previous season-high of 18.5 set against Ohio State in the NCAA National Semifinal on Thursday, May 1. For the NCAA Championship as a team, the Nittany Lions recorded 37.5 team blocks, good for an average of 4.69 blocks per game.

** For the NCAA Championship, Luke Murray directed the Nittany Lions to a combined .409 hitting percentage and for the season, Penn State shattered the previous team hitting percentage record of .384 set by the 1994 National Champions, attacking at a .399 clip for the 2008 campaign.

** Junior outside hitter Matt Anderson's 29 kills against Pepperdine in the NCAA title match gave him his 30th double-digit kill match of the season. For the NCAA Championship, Anderson recorded an astounding 59 kills, for an average of 7.38 kills per game, on .460 hitting. His 567 kills for the season also places him sixth all-time on the Penn State single-season kills list.

** Junior middle hitter Max Holt ended the year attacking at a .548 clip, which places him second all-time in the Penn State single-season annals. He also recorded 48 service aces in 2008, good for second on the single-season list and his two aces in the NCAA Championship move him into second all-time on the career list, just two behind Zeljko Koljesar (2000-2003).

** Freshman libero Dennis Del Valle recorded a match-high and career-high-tying 16 digs and for the NCAA Championship, Del Valle racked up 30 total digs for an average of 3.75 digs per game. He ends the season with 264 digs, which places him eighth all-time on Penn State's single season digs list.

** Sophomore middle hitter Max Lipsitz recorded a career-high 17 kills on .500 hitting in the National Championship match. He also posted a career-high 12 blocks in the NCAA National Semifinal win over Ohio State on May 1.

** Junior outside hitter Jay Stauffer fell one dig shy of his career-best with nine against Pepperdine, but equaled his personal-best with four blocks against the Waves.

** Junior opposite Ryan Sweitzer's 10 kills gave him 19 double-digit kill matches for the year. He recorded a career-high in every statistical category during the 2008 season.

Article courtesy of Penn State athletis.

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