No. 1 Penn State Men's Volleyball Tops No. 7 Ohio State, Advances To National Title Match Saturday


< back

IRVINE, Calif. - For the second time in three years, the top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team will play for the national title. The Nittany Lions (29-1) defeated seventh-ranked and fourth-seed Ohio State (20-8) in four games (30-21, 26-30, 30-22, 30-17) Thursday night at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., in the first of two NCAA National Semifinals.

Penn State will face Pepperdine for the NCAA National Championship title on Saturday, May 3 at 4:00 p.m. PT (7:00 p.m. ET) at the Bren Events Center. The match will be televised live on ESPN2 and can be heard on the web at and on WRSC 1390 AM in the State College area.

The Nittany Lions rallied behind a season-high 18.5 team blocks, including a career-high 12 stuffs from sophomore middle hitter Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) and a personal-best six from junior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.). Junior middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and senior setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) each contributed four blocks while junior outside hitter Jay Stauffer (Columbia, Pa.) notched three and junior outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) posted two. Penn State racked up nine blocks in the third game alone, including four straight stuffs to break a 17-17 tie.

Anderson led all players with 30 kills, his 29th double-digit kill match and his second contest with 30 or more kills, as Penn State led Ohio State, 65-44 in put-aways. Sweitzer recorded his third-highest kill total of the season with 17 while Lipsitz and Holt each recorded seven kills, with Lipsitz' coming without an error on .700 hitting.

Murray dished out 50 assists and led the offense to a .410 team hitting percentage while the Buckeyes attacked at a .108 clip. Freshman libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) led all players with 14 digs, his 10th double-digit dig match of the season and two shy of his career best mark. Murray chipped in nine digs while Stauffer notched six and Sweitzer added five.

Brett Versen led Ohio State with 13 kills and Robbie Klein added in 10. Daniel Mathews dished out 32 assists and Conor Martin led the way with seven digs. Mathews, Versen, Ben Spurlock and Ted Schoenfeldt all posted four blocks.

The match started out even, with a Sweitzer and Lipsitz block giving Penn State the 8-7 lead and an Anderson kill and Lipsitz ace putting the Nittany Lions ahead 11-9. Back to back Anderson kills helped maintain the lead, 13-10, and an Ohio State service error put the Lions up 15-12 heading into the media timeout. A Buckeye kill out of the break brought Ohio State within two at 15-13 but a Sweitzer kill along with a Stauffer and Lipsitz block pushed the Penn State lead to four at 17-13. The teams traded points three times before a solo Murray block gave the Lions the 21-16 lead and forced an Ohio State timeout. A Sweitzer kill out of the backrow along with a service ace gave Penn State the 23-16 advantage and forced another Buckeye timeout. Another Sweitzer kill out of the break helped spark a 6-0 Nittany Lion run encompassing two Sweitzer aces, a Holt and Anderson block and two Anderson kills to help Penn State take the 29-17 lead. Two Lion errors and two Buckeye kills pulled Ohio State within eight at 29-21 but a Sweitzer kill ended the game, 30-21.

Ohio State jumped out to the 6-3 lead to start the second game, forcing a Nittany Lion timeout. Penn State pulled to within one at 11-10 on a Sweitzer kill and knotted the game at 13-13 on kills from Anderson and Sweitzer. But a Lion service error and a Buckeye kill put Ohio State up 15-13 before Penn State claimed three of the next four points to tie the game at 16-16 on an Anderson kill off the Del Valle set. The teams traded points and a Lion error and Ohio State ace put it up 19-17. Another Sweitzer kill pulled Penn State within two at 21-19 but three Lion errors gave the Buckeyes the 24-19 lead. A Sweitzer kill halted the run but an Ohio State kill and Lion attack error put the Buckeyes ahead 26-20. A Penn State triple block from Murray, Lipsitz and Stauffer, a Lipsitz put-away and a Sweitzer overpass kill brought the Nittany Lions within three at 26-23 and forced an Ohio State timeout. Out of the break, Anderson seemingly wound up for a backrow kill but tipped the ball to the right front corner for the score and an Ohio State attack into the tape following a great diving dig by Del Valle brought Penn State within one at 26-25 and forced another Ohio State timeout. A Nittany Lion service error and a Buckeye kill off the block gave Ohio State the 28-25 lead before a Stauffer kill pulled Penn State within one at 28-26. But a Nittany Lion attack error and a Buckeye service ace off the tape ended the game, 30-26, in favor of Ohio State.

Penn State took the 5-3 lead to start the third game before Ohio State fought back to tie the set at 5-5. Two ties ensued before the Lions claimed the 9-7 lead on a Murray and Lipsitz block. A Sweitzer kill made it 11-9 and another Sweitzer put-away gave the Lions the 13-11 lead. But Ohio State took four of the next five points to go up 15-14 heading into the TV timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded service errors before a Lipsitz kill and solo stuff put the Lions up 17-16. The Buckeyes responded with a kill to even the score at 17-17 but three consecutive blocks by Penn State - involving Lipsitz in all three - put the Lions ahead 20-17 and forced an Ohio State timeout. Out of the break, another monster Penn State block, the second consecutive by Lipsitz and Anderson, along with an Anderson kill off the top of the Buckeye block pushed the Lion lead to 22-17 and caused another Buckeye timeout. Ohio State came back with a block of its own and an Anderson kill and Holt solo block gave Penn State the 24-18 advantage. A Buckeye kill and ace pulled them to within four at 24-20 but an Ohio State service error, Holt and Murray block, consecutive kills from Anderson and Holt and another Anderson kill off the top of the block gave Penn State the 29-21 lead before Anderson finished off the game with a kill, 30-23.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to the 6-3 lead in the fourth game on a Holt kill and went up 9-4 on a monster block by Sweitzer and Lipsitz. A Lipsitz kill continued the run to make it 11-5 and a Sweitzer kill and Ohio State attack error pushed the Lions up 14-6. Penn State remained on a roll, going up 21-10 on a Holt kill and Anderson ace before a Sweitzer kill extended the score to 21-10. A solo Lipsitz block and a Murray dig that fell on Ohio State's side made it 25-13. An Anderson kill off a spectacular Del Valle forearm set from 40 feet away from the net gave Penn State the 28-14 lead before a Holt and Sweitzer block ended the game, 30-17.

The NCAA National Title match appearance will be the fifth in program history and the second in three years as the Nittany Lions advanced in 2006 before falling to UCLA. Penn State holds one national title in men's volleyball, coming in 1994, also the last time the Nittany Lions met and defeated a team from the MIVA conference in the national semifinals.

Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.

< back