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No. 3 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Shuts Out Concordia 3-0

No. 3 Penn State men’s volleyball (14-1, 4-0) swept Concordia (5-12, 0-4) in the first of five-straight road games on the West Coast for the Nittany Lions.

A strong showing from Michal Kowal led the charge for the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon. Kowal finished the showing with 11 kills and 12.5 points. Cal Fisher had himself a day as well, as he closed the matchup with 12 additional kills for Penn State.

How It Happened

The Golden Eagles commanded opening-set action through the initial pair of series, winning the first two points off of strong net play. Toby Ezeonu got the Nittany Lions on the board with his first kill of the afternoon on the next point.

Brett Wildman tallied his second kill of the set to put the Nittany Lions up 8-6 after a long-winded rally. Gil Herold for the Golden Eagles blocked a Penn State kill attempt to bring the score to 14-10 in favor of Penn State.

After the media timeout, Concordia went on a quick run to bring the score within a two-point margin. As head coach Mark Pavlik and the Nittany Lions have done all year, they responded by extending the lead to 20-15 before another timeout.

Jack Shampine subbed on late in the set and immediately recorded the first service ace of the match for either side, bringing the score to a 23-18 clip. A triple block for Penn State wrapped up the opening set for the Nittany Lions, snagging a 25-19 victory.

The Golden Eagles’ strength began to show its prowess by connecting on key blocks, giving Concordia a 5-4 edge in the second go-around. Kowal stepped up big time for Penn State with its back against the wall, as he connected on back-to-back kills to give the blue and white a 12-8 lead.

Wildman stretched the lead for Penn State with his first service ace of the showing. The score was 13-11 after multiple Penn State miscues let Concordia back into the set.

The lead grew to an 18-12 mark for Penn State once Ezenou began to dominate the middle blocker position and pick apart the Golden Eagles’ defense. Concordia battled back yet again, and the score was just 22-19 after another Penn State service error.

Concordia continued to fight and tied things up with Penn State at 24-a-piece. Neither team could pull away to win set two, and after back-and-forth play, the score was tied at 28. Ezenou and Mason Mullins for Concordia traded kills, and it was tied up at 33-33 late into set two.

Penn State finally finished the job after an extraordinarily long set number two, pulling it out 40-38, thanks to a double block up front from Ezenou and Owen Rose.

Following the extended second set, both teams went to the bench to give players a break at the beginning of set three. The Nittany Lions started set three hot and jumped out to an 8-4 lead.

Mullins led the comeback for the Golden Eagles, and just like that, the score was 11-10 in favor of Penn State. The Nittany Lions flexed their muscles and went on a three-point run to extend the lead once again. Ezeonu dominated the middle and had another kill and the score was 17-13.

Kowal ripped apart the Golden Eagles’ defense once again, and his kill gave the Nittany Lions a 22-18 lead late into set three. Shampine followed that up with a kill of his own, showing he can be more than a serving specialist. On match point, Penn State’s Shampine finished the job again with another kill, winning the set 25-20 and sweeping the match once again for the Nittany Lions.

Takeaways:

  • Penn State was never in serious danger of falling to Concordia, yet the Nittany Lions struggled to firmly take control in any of the sets. It raises the question of what the team will look like against tougher opponents in the future.
  • Service errors have been the biggest weak spot for the Nittany Lions this season, and it continued in the match against Concordia. Penn State had 30 service errors on the day, which is nearly double its average on the campaign.
  • The Nittany Lions will have their hands full tomorrow night against nationally ranked UC Irvine, after facing multiple lesser opponents over the past few weeks. A top-10 road win over the Anteaters would give Pavlik’s squad pivotal momentum heading down the season-ending stretch.

What’s Next?

Penn State will return to the court tomorrow against No. 6 UC Irvine. The first set is slated for 8 p.m. in Irvine, California.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State. He has the great privilege of living in central Pennsylvania...Which isn't so great. You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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