No. 1 Long Beach State Too Much For No. 6 Men’s Volleyball
No. 6 Penn State men’s volleyball (12-4) saw its 11-game winning streak snapped Friday against No. 12 Cal State Northridge, and the Nittany Lions couldn’t get back on track Saturday evening when it fell to No. 1 Long Beach State (17-2) in four sets (25-20, 23-25, 25-15, 25-23).
How It Happened
The first set was a battle with both sides playing strongly. Long Beach State gained some momentum when T.J. Defalco had a run of three kills, putting the 49ers up 13-9, but Penn State halted the momentum by calling a timeout before things got too bad. The Nittany Lions climbed back into things out of the timeout, pulling within one point at 18-17 off kills from Chris Nugent and Aiden Albrecht. But the 49ers started to pull away from there, picking up a 25-20 set win following a block from Defalco and Bryce Yould.
Series of runs dominated the second set. Long Beach State rattled off five straight points to take a 11-7 advantage. But kills from Albrecht and Kevin Gears sparked a Penn State six-point run as the Nittany Lions fought back to re-take the lead 14-13. Neither side could gain much of an advantage the rest of the set, but Penn State made the plays when it mattered the most. Tied 23-23, Gears came through with another kill and Long Beach State’s Kyle Ensing had an attack error, giving the Nittany Lions the second set.
The 49ers had little trouble in the third set, taking a commanding 8-3 lead and never looking back. The Nittany Lions shot themselves in the foot multiple times with attack errors, but the duo of Defalco and Bjarne Huus was simply dominant for Long Beach State. Both players had four kills in an easy 25-15 set victory.
Long Beach State proved worthy of its No. 1 ranking, closing things out in the fourth and final set. But Penn State didn’t go down without a fight, nearly taking the fourth set off a dominant six-kill performance by Chris Nugent. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Nittany Lions as the 49ers played strongly down the stretch, securing the victory off three straight kills by who else than Defalco.
Player Of The Game
T.J. Defalco | Freshman | Outside Hitter
The 6-foot-4 freshman was outstanding for the No. 1 team in the nation, and was a major catalyst why the 49ers are leaving Happy Valley with the W. Defalco finished the match with 21 kills and 10 digs.
Penn State has an extended break and won’t be back on the court again until March 18 when it squares off against St. Francis in Rec Hall.