No. 1 Penn State Outlasts No. 7 USC, 3-2

1/8/2009

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HONOLULU, Hawaii - Senior middle hitter Max Holt blasted a career-high and rally-scoring-era school record seven service aces to help the top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team outlast No. 7 Southern California in five-games (27-30, 30-23, 30-19, 29-31, 15-12) to open the season at the Outrigger Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Junior outside hitter Will Price (Gaithersburg, Md.) led all players with 22 kills on .500 hitting as senior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.) posted 18 kills. Junior middle hitter Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) tallied eight kills as senior middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted five kills. As a team, Penn State attacked at a .281 clip for the match while recording 57 kills to USC's 63.

Redshirt freshman setter Edgardo Goas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) directed the Lion offense with 47 assists in his first collegiate match, and sophomore libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) tallied 11 digs as Sweitzer and Price both contributed six digs and Holt recorded a career-high-tying five digs. Penn State outdug USC, 36-35, for the match.

The Nittany Lions dominated the serving game, recording 12 aces while allowing the Trojans only three. Holt's seven winners led the way as Lipsitz and Sweitzer each posted two and Price tallied one. Holt also became Penn State's all-time career service aces leader, as he needed only three to move into the top spot going into the match. He now stands with 135. Zeljko Koljesar previously held the record of 130 from 2000 to 2003. 

Penn State also outblocked USC, 12.5 to 6.0, led by Lipsitz, Holt and senior Jay Stauffer (Columbia, Pa.) with five each. Sweitzer notched four stuffs as Goas and Price both chipped in two.

Murphy Troy led Southern California with 20 kills as Austin Zahn and Hunter Current tallied 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Riley McKibbin dished out 50 assists and Luke Morris picked up a match-high 15 digs as Zahn recorded five blocks to lead the squad.

A Sweitzer kill opened up the fifth and deciding game and Southern California responded with a kill of its own to tie the game at 1-1. A Trojan service error, a monster solo Lipsitz block and a USC attack error that sailed long put Penn State ahead 4-1 and forced a Trojan timeout. Out of the break, Price pounded a kill and the teams traded service errors before a Lion block from Sweitzer and Lipsitz gave Penn State the 7-2 lead. But a USC kill and consecutive Lion attack errors pulled the Trojans within two at 7-5 to force a Penn State timeout. A Sweitzer kill out of the break gave the Lions the 8-5 lead heading into the side change, and a Southern California attack that was just a bit outside pushed Penn State up 9-5 and forced a USC timeout. Out of that break, a Trojan kill and a Lion attack error pulled USC within two but the Trojans gave it right back with a service error to put Penn State up, 10-7. A Stauffer kill off a diving Del Valle dig put the Lions up 11-7 but two USC kills and a Penn State attack error trimmed the Lion lead to one at 11-10. Holt buried a ball to give Penn State the two-point cushion at 12-10. The squads traded errors twice before a Price kill gave Penn State the game, 15-12.

A Stauffer and Holt block evened the score at 5-5 early in the first game, but a Lion service error and a Southern California block and overpass kill gave the Trojans the 8-5 lead. The teams traded points three times before two Price kills and a USC attack error knotted the score at 11-11. Following a Trojan put-away, another Price kill and consecutive Southern California attack errors gave Penn State the 14-12 lead. Out of a USC timeout, strong serving from Price aided in back to back overpass kills by Lipsitz to extend the Lion advantage to 16-12. The Trojans claimed five of the next six points to tie the score at 17-17, but two USC errors, consecutive Sweitzer aces and another Stauffer and Holt block pushed the Nittany Lions up 22-17. The Trojans responded with two kills, and combined with three Penn State errors, tied the game at 22-22. Two USC attacks sailed long to give the Nittany Lions the 24-22 lead but a Penn State attack error combined with a Trojan kill again knotted the score at 24-24. The teams traded points three times, before a Penn State attack error gave USC the 28-27 lead. Following a Lion timeout, another attack error and a Trojan kill gave them the game, 30-27. Price led the Lions with five kills on an errorless 11 swings to hit .455 in the stanza as Lipsitz added in four kills on .429 hitting.

Five ties started off the second set, with USC going up 9-6 on three consecutive kills. But a Trojan service error coupled with a Holt ace, a USC attack error and a Price kill swung the momentum and put Penn State on top, 10-9. A Lion service error knotted the game at 10-10 and kills from Price and Sweitzer along with a USC attack error gave Penn State the 13-10 lead. After a Lion error, a Penn State triple block from Lipsitz, Price and Sweitzer along with a Sweitzer kill pushed Penn State up 15-11. But USC fought back to take the next five points on a Lion error, an ace and three kills to take the 16-15 lead. A Sweitzer kill evened the score at 16-16 and a Trojan net violation and a Holt and Stauffer block put Penn State ahead 18-16. A Lion service error and a USC ace tied the game at 18-18 and the teams traded points twice before a Goas kill sparked a 6-0 Penn State run, encompassing three Holt aces and two Price kills, to put the Lions ahead 26-20. A Price kill and Sweitzer and Stauffer block put Penn State up 29-22 before a USC service error ended the game, 30-23. Price led the squad with six kills as Sweitzer added in four. Holt produced four aces in the stanza.

A Price kill out of the backrow put Penn State up 4-3 and a Lipsitz ace made it 6-4 before consecutive Lion blocks - a triple effort from Holt, Stauffer and Sweitzer and a double from Holt and Sweitzer - pushed Penn State up 8-5. Lion kills from Price and Sweitzer pushed the score to 11-7 and following a USC timeout, Holt blasted his sixth ace of the match to tie the rally-scoring era school record. Another Lion triple block, this one from Goas, Price and Lipsitz, pushed the Penn State lead to 15-7, and kills from Sweitzer and Price made it 17-8. Two Lion kills, including one from Price out of the backrow, along with a Price ace gave Penn State the 20-10 lead. A kill from redshirt freshman Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.), the first of his collegiate career, pushed the score to 22-11 and another Sunder kill along with a Goas solo block gave Penn State the 27-15 advantage. A Lipsitz kill ended the game, 30-19. Price and Sweitzer led the squad with five and four kills, respectively.

The fourth game remained even throughout, with a Sweitzer kill putting the Lions up 6-5 and a Holt put-away making it 10-8. The teams exchanged points several times, with a Sweitzer kill out of the backrow giving Penn State the 16-14 lead. A Holt kill and ace, his career-high and school-record seventh of the game, gave the Lions the 18-15 advantage. USC tied the game at 20-20 on back to back kills before a Price kill and Trojan attack error put Penn State ahead 23-21. Out of a Southern California timeout, the squads traded points twice before a Trojan block and kill evened the score at 25-25. A Sweitzer kill out of the backrow put Penn State back on top, 26-25, but USC took three of the next four points to go up 28-27. The teams exchanged points twice before a Lion attack error gave the Trojans the game, 31-29.

Penn State remains in action at the Outrigger Invitational, taking on Ohio State on Friday, Jan. 9 at 4:00 p.m. HT (9:00 p.m. ET).

For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State men's volleyball 2009 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.

Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.

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