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No. 9 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps NJIT 3-0

No. 9 Penn State men’s volleyball (12-3, 4-0 EIVA) defeated NJIT (7-8, 0-3 EIVA) 3-0 in Rec Hall Saturday afternoon.  

After defeating the Highlanders 3-1 last night, Penn State didn’t let up. Toby Ezeonu filled up the stat sheet again with seven kills, seven blocks, and an ace, and hit .462 as Ezeonu, John Kerr, and Michal Kowal led the way for the Nittany Lions in the sweep.

How It Happened

NJIT struck first in the match off an error on Kerr. The Highlanders then scored three more off an Antonio Feliciano kill, an Owen Rose attack error, and an Andrew Fedmasu kill made it 4-0. The Nittany Lions got on the board with a Carson Williams service error, but NJIT got the score back off a Kowal service error.

The teams then shared the next four scores to make it 7-3 in favor of NJIT. Penn State then went on a 6-0 run due to three Highlander errors, a Luke Snyder and Ezeonu block, a Michael Valenzi and Ezeonu block, and a John Kerr kill to make it 8-7 Penn State.

Alessandro Negri recorded a kill for NJIT, but Penn State came back with three more with a kill by Ezeonu and two kills by Kowal to grow the lead to 11-8. Penn State maintained a three-point lead until a service error on Owen Rose and an ace by Feliciano made it 15-14 Penn State.

Penn State regained the three-point lead with a Feliciano service error and a Valenzi kill. NJIT cut the lead back down to one again with Williams’ kill and Griffin Fieseler’s and Williams’ block. The Highlanders then tied the set at 20-20 with a kill by Fieseler.

Kerr recorded a kill to regain the lead and Feliciano’s attack error was successfully challenged and reversed by NJIT head coach Danny Goncalves to tie the set at 21-21. Kerr recorded another kill, followed by a net violation on NJIT to put the Nittany Lions within two of the set at 23-21.

NJIT called a timeout and after the break, and Ezeonu ended the set with a kill after a long rally and then recorded a block moments later to give Penn State set one at 25-21.

Two errors kicked off the second set, one on Rose and the other on Williams. Feliciano earned the first kill of the set, followed by a Negri kill and another Feliciano kill to make it a 3-0 run for the Highlanders. Penn State then went on a 3-0 run of its own with a kill and a block by Ezeonu, and an attack error on Josh Gregg to tie the set at 4-4.

Neither team managed to keep the lead for more than a possession for the next four scores until consecutive scores for NJIT gave the Highlanders an 8-6 lead. Penn State then knotted the score again with an attack error on Williams and a kill by Kowal. The back-and-forth play continued again where neither team could hold onto a lead.

However, Valenzi’s block sparked a run that included an ace and a kill by Kerr to force an NJIT timeout at 14-11 Penn State. Gregg recorded a kill for NJIT out of the break, but Ezeonu got the score back for Penn State. Kowal hit one out of bounds, but Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik successfully challenged that the ball was touched by a Highlander before going out of bounds to make it a kill for Kowal and 16-12 Penn State.

NJIT scored twice after the challenge off of errors by Kowal and Kerr. Ezeonu struck back for the Nittany Lions, but Negri did the same for the Highlanders to make it 17-15. Penn State continued to fight off NJIT for the remainder of the set.

At 20-17, Kerr notched another kill, then teamed up with Ezeonu for a block. Kowal’s kill, Snyder’s and Ezeonu’s block, and Feliciano’s service error gave Penn State the 25-20 set victory.

The third set began with two Valenzi kills, a Fieseler service error, and an Ezeonu kill to make it 4-1 Penn State. The Nittany Lions then went on a 5-2 run with kills by Ezeonu, Kerr, and Kowal, along with a Kowal block and a bad set by Fieseler to make it 8-3.

NJIT closed the gap to three with kills by Negri and Williams, but a Kerr kill widened the deficit again. After Ezeonu’s service error, Penn State went on a 3-0 run with kills by Rose and Kowal, and an ace by Snyder forced the Highlanders to call another timeout.

Penn State continued the run with a Kerr kill after the timeout, but Williams ended the run with a kill. Penn State quickly started another run with kills by Kowal and Valenzi, an error on Will Migdal, and a block by Kerr and Rose made it 17-7 Penn State. The Nittany Lions continued their dominance for the remainder of the set as they maintained their 10-point lead for most of it.

At 21-11, Penn State closed out the set with two kills by Will Kuhns, including the game-winner, a kill by Rose, and an error on Feliciano to give Penn State the set at 25-13.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s defense has been suffocating all weekend. Today, Penn State had nine blocks and allowed a hitting percentage of .145.
  • John Kerr had another big game with 13 kills, an ace, two blocks, and hit .524.
  • Penn State is head and shoulders above every team in the EIVA. At 12-3 with the win today and the 4-0 conference record while on a 32-game regular-season winning streak against conference opponents, Penn State is on track to make another NCAA Tournament appearance.

What’s Next?

Penn State heads west for its first of four games in California starting at No. 1 Long Beach State at 10 p.m. on Friday, March 1. 

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About the Author

Mitch Corcoran

Mitch is a junior broadcast journalism major from Johnstown, PA. He is a big Pittsburgh sports fan and in his free time he likes to listen to music, play video games, and rewatch old football games. He also loves Seinfeld, Star Wars, bucket hats, and Dua Lipa. If you want Justin Herbert propaganda or random sports content, follow him on Twitter/X @MitchCorc18 or email [email protected]

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