Men’s Volleyball Tested, but Wins Two at Home
The Penn State men’s volleyball team was pushed by Loyola-Chicago and Lewis last weekend, but managed to win both matches to remain unbeaten at home. Joe Sunder led the way for the Nittany Lions with 46 kills over the two matches.
On Friday, Penn State faced a stiff test from 14th-ranked Loyola-Chicago. Worry crept into the fans at Rec Hall after Loyola won the first set in convincing fashion. However, Penn State came out strong in set two to win handily. After taking set three, the Nittany Lions seemed to have the match in hand after going up 6-2 in the fourth set. Penn State continued to roll, growing the lead to seven points at 18-11. At this point, Loyola made a comeback and even had several set points before Penn State finally closed out the set 29-27.
Sunder led the Nittany Lions with 28 kills in the 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 29-27) victory. Jace Olson had 15 kills and Scott Kegerreis had a career-high 14. Throughout the match, players on the Loyola bench messed with Penn State players, but especially aimed their insults at Olson. The trash talk seemed to spur Olson on for a personal best in kills on .545 hitting.
Penn State was pushed by Lewis on Saturday, but earned a 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-19) sweep. Reminiscent of the fourth set against Loyola, the Nittany Lions watched a large lead disappear in the first set against Lewis. After leading 20-15, Penn State squandered the five-point advantage. The Nittany Lions were able to take the first set, however, and cruised through sets two and three.
Against Lewis, Penn State played stronger defensively, with libero Dennis Del Valle making several spectacular digs. Kegerreis and Alan Mars had three blocks each, while Sunder led the team once again with 18 kills.
With the victories, the Nittany Lions improve to 6-1 overall and remain 2-0 in conference play. Penn State will finish their six-match home-stand next weekend against two tough California opponents. After facing off with seventh-ranked UC Irvine next Friday, Penn State will take on 13th-ranked Cal State Northridge on Saturday.
Friday: vs. UC Irvine, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: vs. CS Northridge, 7:30 p.m.