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Men’s Volleyball Falls Short In Comeback Against No. 1 Loyola

Looking for revenge in a rematch of last year’s NCAA semifinals matchup, No. 15 Penn State men’s volleyball fell short in their home opener against defending champion No. 1 Loyola, falling to 0-5 on the season.

How It Happened

Trailing by three in the first set, 8-5, Penn State put together a 6-3 stretch to tie the frame, 11-11, and following a Loyola kill, Matt Seifert and Nick Goodell answered with back-to-back kills of their own to give the Nittany Lions a one-point lead. Loyola responded with three consecutive blocks to build the lead back to two, 16-14. The Nittany Lions answered with a 5-1 strike, capped off by back-to-back kills from Aaron Russell and Goodell to pull ahead by two, 19-17.

The Ramblers rattled off four straight to jump ahead, 21-19, but Russell halted the momentum with a kill, 21-20. Loyola would follow with a 3-1 spurt to arrive at set point, 24-21, but Penn State would hold off three straight points to tie the set. The two teams exchanged points two more times to keep the score tied up, 26-26, before a PSU service error and a Loyola kill secured a 28-26 win in the opening set.

Penn State built a 8-5 lead early in set two before Loyola put an end to the run with a kill, 8-6. Russell and Goodell answered back with a pair of kills to push Penn State ahead by four, 10-6, but the Ramblers patched together a 4-2 stretch to move within two before an attack error kept the Nittany Lions on top by three, 13-10.

A 7-2 run allowed the Ramblers to take over a two-point lead, 17-15, but PSU answered back with a 4-1 strike to go back up, 19-18. The two team traded points until Loyola rallied from behind by one, 23-22, with a kill and a block to make it set point. Goodell notched a kill to knot the set, 24-24, but a Loyola kill and an ace gave the Ramblers a 26-24 decision in set two for a 2-0 lead.

Trailing by two in set three, Penn State used a 5-2 run to tie the frame, 13-13 before Loyola ended the run with a kill. Another PSU run, this time a 4-1 spurt, extended the lead to two, 17-15. The Ramblers countered with a 3-1 strike to take back the lead, but Penn State answered with a 5-2 streak to build the lead to three, 23-20. A Nittany Lion service error and block allowed Loyola to crawl back within one, 23-22, but Penn State closed out the frame with a 2-1 stretch to take set three, 25-23.

Tied 11-11 in set four, Goodell sparked a 6-2 surge with a spike that put  PSU ahead, 17-13. Loyola answered with a 5-1 strike to knot the score, 18-18, but a Loyola service error out the Lions back up by one. However, the Nittany Lions could not sustain the moment as the Ramblers used a 7-2 to take set four, 25-21 for a 3-1 win in the match.

Player of the Match

Spencer Sauter. The redshirt sophomore finished second on the team with 14 kills to go along with nine digs and a team-leading five blocks. The Woodridge, Illinois native’s previous career-high was seven kills on .875 hitting against Mount Olive on Jan. 31, 2014.

Tweet of the Match

Sauter was named the Mike Anderson Player of the Game by the team for his efforts, named after the former NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player and AVCA Player of the Year.

Match Notes

  • Loyola outscored the Nittany Lions 62-58 while holding a 5-2 advantage in aces. The Ramblers maintained a 67 percent hitting rate over the Lion’s 63 percent.
  • Three Nittany Lions recorded double digit kills, led by redshirt senior Nick Goodell, who tallied 19 kills to go along with nine digs.
  • Redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway finished second on the team with four blocks, while also adding eight kills on .500 hitting. Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond and redshirt senior Connor Curry led the defensive effort with 14 and 12 digs, respectively.
  • The Nittany Lions now hold an 11-9 mark in the all-time series against top-ranked Loyola, despite falling short in both matches during the 2014 season.

What’s Next?

It doesn’t get much easier for the Nittany Lions as they seek their first win of 2015. Penn State returns to action Saturday night against No. 2 Lewis at 7 p.m. in the south gym at Rec Hall.

Photo: Mark Selders

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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