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No. 6 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Overcomes No. 16 Lewis Comeback 3-2

No. 6 Penn State men’s volleyball (2-0) defeated No. 16 Lewis (1-1) 3-2 as the Nittany Lions closed out their opening weekend of action undrafted on their home court. Thirty-one kills from John Kerr were aided by 59 assists from Michael Schwob, while Toby Ezeonu’s good play continued with 15 kills.

How It Happened

Lewis started the game strong, starting the first set with back-to-back kills to take a 2-0 lead. A service error and attack error from the Flyers allowed the Nittany Lions to tie the set early on before Owen Rose handed Lewis a point on his own service error. The two sides traded points once again to create a 4-4 tie.

One kill each from Ezeonu and Kerr helped the Nittany Lions with three of the next four points as the tide began to turn in their favor with the first set. While Lewis took the next point on Ezeonu’s service error, Michal Kowal, Kerr, and Rose helped take three of four points yet again to give Penn State a 10-7 lead.

The two sides traded points for some time as Penn State hadn’t increased its lead when Michael Valenzi’s service error brought the score to 14-11 for the Nittany Lions. Two more attack errors from Ezeonu gave the Flyers two more points before Penn State took the next four.

Penn State, then up 18-13, allowed just two points for the duration of the first set. Helped by Kerr and a few service errors, the Nittany Lions took the set 25-18.

The second set wasn’t as pretty for Penn State, even if it did take the first two points. The Flyers took two of the next three points with a kill from Max Roquet and a service error from Rose. A Penn State kill from Ezeunu only stemmed the tide as Lewis scored thrice more, allowed a point from Ezeonu, and scored twice more to take a 7-5 lead.

The two sides traded blows, with errors deciding seven of the following 10 points to give Lewis a 12-10 lead. Daniel Haber recorded a kill for the Flyers before an attack error from Christian Prayer gave Penn State one point. The next three points went to Lewis as did two more after a one-point interruption for Penn State to bring the score to 18-12.

Penn State began to claw back, as errors and an ace from Rose brought the score to 21-18 in favor of the Flyers. Haber’s kill brought Lewis another point before the Nittany Lions notched three more as Will Kuhns’ kill brought the score to 22-21, a near tie. However, Lewis finished the job in quick fashion, taking three points while allowing one to win the second set 25-22.

In the third set, the two sides traded the first four points to stay even. Two points later, an error from Kowal allowed the Flyers a 4-2 lead before the Penn State and Lewis each notched two points. A similar event happened in the following four points, with each team scoring two in succession, Kerr’s kills earning both for the Nittany Lions.

Neither team could break away as three kills, from Prayer, Rose, and Max Roquet, dominated the next three points. A series of errors — five broken up by an ace from Rose — gave the Nittany Lions a 13-11 lead.

Lewis went on a hot streak and took five points of six before the Nittany Lions were forced to call a timeout. That timeout, in turn, prompted a three-point run by Penn State to take a 17-16 lead. Lewis regained control, benefitting from two errors and a kill by Prayer, to bring the score to 19-19.

That tie didn’t break as the set reached sudden death with the score 27-27. It wasn’t until Penn State benefitted from a service error and a Kerr kill that it won the third set 29-27.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead and seemed sure to take the match in the fourth set. Kerr and Haber pushed their team to an 8-3 lead early on, which quickly became an 11-5 lead. In a rut, Lewis climbed out with six points of the following seven.

The teams traded jabs for the duration of the set. Lewis slowly earned a slight, two-point lead, but the Nittany Lions came back to tie the set 17-17. Neither side could take a lead larger than one point through sudden death until Roquet took over for the Flyers with two kills to take a 31-29 win in the fourth set.

In the fifth and final set, neither side began with a clear upper hand. Kowal recorded the first point, followed by Syver Drolsum’s kill and three straight errors that saw Penn State take a 3-2 lead. Nathan DeGraaf recorded a kill for the Flyers before Penn State scored three times unanswered. With a 6-3 lead, Penn State split the next six points with Lewis.

Led by Drolsum, the Flyers clawed their way back to a tied set with an 11-11 scoreline. When Penn State notched two scores, Lewis called a timeout, though it wasn’t worth much. The two teams split the last four points of the game and a kill from Ezeonu ended the set for Penn State to win 15-13 and take a 3-2 match victory.

What’s Next?

Penn State stays at home to face Lees-McRae at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 11. Streaming and broadcasting availability has not yet been announced.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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