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No. 10 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps Harvard 3-0

No. 10 Penn State men’s volleyball (16-6, 5-0 EIVA) swept Harvard (11-7, 3-2 EIVA) 3-0 in Rec Hall Friday night. Penn State dominated the Crimson after a much-need bye last week.

Big performances by Michael Valenzi and John Kerr led the way for Penn State. Valenzi was all over the court tonight with 11 kills, two aces, two blocks, and hit .526. As for Kerr, he had 12 kills, two aces, and hit .320.

How It Happened

Coming off a bye last week, Penn State got off to a fast start after giving up the first point. The Nittany Lions scored three straight off of back-to-back kills from Valenzi and an attack error on Harvard’s Logan Shepherd. The Crimson were able to bring it within one, but Toby Ezeonu’s kill and John Kerr’s ace extended the lead to three.

Back-to-back kills by Zach Berty cut Penn State’s lead back to one at 6-5. Ezeonu recorded another kill, but the Crimson went on an impressive 6-1 run that consisted of kills by James Bardin, Owen Fanning, an ace by Berty, and multiple Penn State errors to make it 11-8 in favor of Harvard.

Penn State came right back with a 5-1 run of its own with a kill by Kerr, a solo block, by Owen Rose, an assisted block by Valenzi and Rose, an ace by Kowal, and a Harvard error to make it 13-12 Penn State. Shepherd knotted the set with a kill, but Penn State went on a 4-1 run with two Harvard errors and a Kerr ace and kill to make it 17-14.

Brian Baise used his first timeout but it didn’t slow down Penn State. After the pause, Berty tallied a kill but Penn State scored four straight off of kills by Ezeonu, Valenzi, and Michael Schwob, and an error on Owen Woolbert to make it 21-15 in favor of Penn State. The Crimson used their final timeout of the set as three straight service errors followed the break.

Woolbert and Fanning combined for a block for Harvard and Kowal recorded a kill for Penn State to put the blue and white within two of the first set. Despite kills by Shepherd and Berty, Kerr’s and Valenzi’s kills gave Penn State the set victory 25-20.

Two Harvard attack errors, Kowal’s ace, and Rose’s kill started the second set 4-0 for Penn State. Ethan Smith’s kill started the scoring for the Crimson but Kerr matched the score with a kill. Two Nittany Lion errors cut its own lead to two at 5-3.

Valenzi’s two kills and an ace sparked a 5-0 run for Penn State. In addition to Valenzi’s scores, Kowal notched a kill, along with Ezeonu forcing Baise to use his first timeout of the set at 10-4. Out of the timeout, Berty and Woolbert teamed up for a block, but Bardin’s service error and Ezeonu’s kill extended Penn State’s lead to seven.

Harvard then went on a 3-0 run off of three Penn State errors to make it 12-8 for the Nittany Lions. Kerr’s kill ended the run and sparked a 6-1 run for Penn State with two aces by Kowal, a Valenzi kill, and a block by Kerr and Rose. The Crimson then went on a 3-1 run off of two Penn State errors and a Shepherd kill.

Shepherd’s block and Valenzi’s kill made it 21-12 all Penn State. The end of a 4-1 Penn State run along with Kerr’s kill and Michael Schwob and Rose’s block ended the set 25-15 Penn State.

Penn State took a quick 4-1 lead in the third set with the help of Rose’s kill and ace. Valenzi tallied his ninth kill of the match but two Penn State service errors cut the Nittany Lion’s lead to two. Kerr matched Valenzi with his ninth kill of the night as well, but two more Penn State errors kept the lead at two.

The Nittany Lions went on another 4-1 run that came off of all Harvard errors to make it 10-6. Schwob’s service error and Adrian Shevchuk and Smith’s block cut the lead back down to two again. The Nittany Lions then went on a 3-0 run off of two Crimson errors and Valenzi’s 10th kill forced another Harvard timeout.

After the break, the Crimson jumped on a 3-1 run with a Smith kill and two more Penn State errors. Ezeonu and Kerr’s kill then extended Penn State’s lead back to five at 16-11. Two Ezeonu kills and a Valenzi kill and ace put the nail in the coffin for as Penn State extended its lead to 20-12.

A 4-0 run by the Crimson made it 20-15 but it wasn’t enough as two Kerr kills, a Rose kill, and Kowal’s career-high fifth ace of the night ended the final set 25-18.

Takeaways

  • Penn State shut down a red-hot Harvard who posted season-highs in kills and hitting percentage last weekend and has won 10 of its last 12 matches. 
  • The win put the Nittany Lions one step closer to hosting the EIVA Tournament in April. Penn State is now 5-0 in the conference with Harvard and George Mason in second at 3-2.
  • Despite only recording two kills and hitting a -.100, Michal Kowal was still able to contribute in the win with a career-high five aces.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will look to sweep Harvard at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30, in Rec Hall. The match will air on BTN+.  

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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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