Men’s Volleyball’s Season Comes To An End In The NCAA Semifinals
Penn State men’s volleyball’s title run ended late Thursday night as it lost to Lewis University in Stanford, California in its 17th-straight Final Four appearance. Two days prior, the fifth-seeded Lions took down No. 4 Hawaii in four sets in a play-in game, but the well-rested Flyers took this one confidently. Penn State held an all-time record of 19-10 against the Flyers before the match, but history wasn’t on the former’s side tonight. Lewis will take on defending champ Loyola Chicago on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions took the court with vigor, tallying four out of the first five points, but ultimately couldn’t keep up the intensity. Lewis followed up the Lions’ run with an even more impressive one of its own, scoring six straight to take a lead that it would never relinquish. Penn State kept the set close, never trailing by more than five, but wasn’t able to mount another run and fell 25-20.
The second set played out much like the first, but with the teams’ roles reversed. Lewis took a 5-2 lead and looked impressive, but Penn State won six of the next seven to take a solid lead. Penn State never lead by more than four but again, Lewis couldn’t mount a run, and the Lions won 25-22 to tie the match at 1-1.
Penn State’s lone loss in the last match came in the third set, and its worst performance of the night came in the third in this match as well. The Flyers showed the world why they were the top seed in the tournament with impressive displays of both offense and defense, and the Nittany Lions couldn’t find consistency in their serving. Those two facets of the set culminated in a 25-16 win for Lewis.
With Lewis leading the match 2-1, the two teams gave their all in the fourth as both sides committed fewer errors than they had at any point earlier in the match. It didn’t look like either side was going to pull away from the other, until Lewis took the set’s first three-point lead at 14-11. The opponents traded points from that point on. Penn State was able to cut the lead to two as late as 22-20, but the Flyers scored the next three to win 25-20 and punch their ticket to the National Championship.
Player Of The Game
Lewis University’s Greg Petty and Penn State’s Aaron Russell led the match with 15 kills each, but Petty had a better hitting percentage at .345. The two outside hitters went head-to-head all night long, but in the end, it was Lewis’ that had the last laugh.
The NCAA Championship will be this Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and it will be played between Lewis and Loyola Chicago. The Nittany Lions’ season comes to a close with this loss, with their final record at 21-10.