No. 1 Penn State Grounds No. 7 Ball State, 3-0
University Park, Pa. - After a nearly-two hour delay due to No. 7 Ball State's transportation troubles, the top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team defeated the Cardinals in three games (30-26, 30-22, 30-17) Saturday night at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions improve to 24-1 and end the Cardinals' 11-match winning streak as Ball State falls to 16-7 for the year.
The Cardinal squad was scheduled to leave Muncie, Ind., at 8:00 a.m. but a broken oil line on the team's bus pushed the departure time back about three hours and the team arrived at Rec Hall at 8:00 p.m.
"You really have to commend Ball State," said head coach Mark Pavlik. "They've been on a bus for 12 hours and they gave a great effort tonight. I thought we did a really good job of not allowing them to believe they had enough in their tank to beat us. This was a fun match for us, with some of the great plays that were made."
Prior to the match, seniors Luke Murray and Travis Foltz were honored for their contributions to Penn State and the men's volleyball program. It was the duo's last regular-season contest at Rec Hall, although the Nittany Lions will host the EIVA Championship on April 24 and 26.
Junior outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led all players with 15 kills on .545 hitting as junior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.) recorded 12 kills. Both Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) produced nine kills, with Holt adding to his nation-leading hitting percentage by attacking at a .750 clip without an error and Lipsitz swinging for a .500 percentage. As a team, Penn State hit .483 for the contest and is hitting at a .403 combined clip for the season. The Nittany Lions also sided out at 94% in the third game, converting on 17-of-18 opportunities.
Senior setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) dished out 41 assists and added two kills on an errorless three swings with five digs as freshman libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) picked up eight digs, including some on spectacular plays. Junior outside hitter Jay Stauffer (Columbia, Pa.) added in three digs for the squad to go along with his two kills on an errorless four swings.
Penn State outblocked Ball State, 9.5 to 5.5, led by Lipsitz with five, Sweitzer with four, Holt and Anderson with three, Stauffer with two - including a monster solo effort - and Murray with one.
Todd Chamberlain and Marcus Imwalle led Ball State with nine kills apiece as Matt McCarthy and Patrick Durbin both added in eight kills. Ethan Pheister dished out 34 assists and Durbin and Ian Peckler both provided four digs for the squad. J.D. Gasparovic topped the blocking list with three stuffs.
Penn State took the 9-5 lead to start the match on two Ball State attack errors and a Stauffer kill. But two Cardinal kills from Imwalle helped Ball State tie the game at 9-9. Four ties ensued before two Lion errors gave Ball State the 15-13 lead. The Cardinals maintained the slight advantage, going up 18-15 on a kill from Chamberlain before two Lipsitz kills tied the game at 18-18. An Anderson kill set up by a spectacular Del Valle dig and a Ball State attack error after a scrambling Penn State defensive play brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Lions the 20-18 lead. A Sweitzer and Holt block pushed the lead to 24-19 and a Holt kill coupled with a Holt and Stauffer block made it 27-21. Two Lion errors and a Patrick Durbin kill trimmed the Penn State lead to three at 27-24 but a Holt kill halted the run. The teams traded errors, with a Lipsitz and Murray block giving Penn State the 29-25 advantage before a Ball State service error ended the game, 30-26.
The Nittany Lions jumped out to the 5-1 advantage on an Anderson kill, two Cardinal errors and a Lipsitz and Sweitzer block. Ball State chipped away at the lead but a Murray overpass kill put the Lions up 9-7. Consecutive kills from Sweitzer and Anderson gave Penn State the four-point cushion at 14-10 and two Anderson kills aided the Lions in going ahead 17-14. An Anderson and Lipsitz block made it 21-16 and a Holt kill extended the advantage to 23-18. Another Holt kill coupled with a service ace put Penn State up 26-21 before two Anderson kills ended the game, 30-22.
Two Sweitzer kills helped Penn State to the early 10-4 lead to start the third game. Two Lion blocks, one a triple effort from Sweitzer, Lipsitz and Anderson and another from Holt and Sweitzer, made it 16-6. A monster solo stuff by Stauffer pushed the score to 19-8 and a Sweitzer kill and Murray ace gave Penn State the 22-11 lead. Another Lion block, this one from Lipsitz and Anderson, pushed the lead to 25-12 and a Penn State kill by junior middle hitter Jon Sherrick (Mountville, Pa.) off the set from senior Travis Foltz (Westlake Village, Calif.) gave the Lions the 27-14 lead before Penn State kills from Alan Mars (Rochester, N.Y.) and Thomas Pereira (Brasilia, Brazil) ended the game, 30-17.
The Nittany Lions have a bye week before heading west to face Loyola-Chicago and IPFW on Friday and Saturday, April 11-12. As the top seed in the EIVA, Penn State earned a bye in the league quarterfinals and Rec Hall will once again host the EIVA Championship on Thursday and Saturday, April 24 and 26. The winner earns the league's automatic berth in the NCAA National Collegiate Championship Semifinal, held on the campus of UC Irvine on Thursday, May 1. The National Championship match will take place on Saturday, May 3.
For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.
Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.