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No. 8 Penn State Men’s Volleyball Clinches EIVA Regular Season Title In 3-2 Victory Over No. 16 George Mason 

No. 8 Penn State men’s volleyball (20-6, 9-0 EIVA) defeated Charleston (17-8, 6-3 EIVA) 3-2 at home Friday night. Penn State clinched first place in the EIVA with the win and will host the EIVA Tournament next week 

In perhaps the most important match of the season, Toby Ezeonu, John Kerr, and Owen Rose stepped up with huge performances. The three combined for 49 kill, 14 blocks, two aces, and only three attack errors.

How It Happened

The match started with a John Kerr ace followed by an Ezeonu kill. Omar Hoyos notched the first kill of the match for George Mason, and the Patriots followed with two more kills, one from Colin Heath and the other by Hoyos to make it 3-2.

Ezeonu’s kill tied the set but Michal Kowal’s service error gave the lead back to George Mason. Lucas Little’s ace was followed by a service error and Jack Bolz’s kill gave the Patriots a two-point lead. Kerr’s kill was followed by Sam Peters’ attack error but a Kerr and Owen Rose block gave Penn State the 7-6 lead.

George Mason went on a 4-1 run with kills from Bolz and Peters and attack errors on Rose and Michael Valenzi. Kerr ended the run with a kill, but the Patriots went on another 3-1 run with kills from Bolz and Little and an ace by Hoyos to force Penn State to use its first timeout of the set down 13-10.

Kerr and Ezeonu both tallied kills out of the break, but Little got a block for George Mason. Kerr’s kill cut the Patriot’s lead to one until Bolz notched a kill. Bolz followed the kill with a service error, but Peters and Hoyos made it 17-14 with their kills.

Hoyos’ second straight kill was followed by a series of errors on both teams until Kerr tallied a kill to cut the lead to three at 20-17. Kerr followed with a service error but Penn State scored two straight off of Kowal’s kill and Hoyos’ attack error that was unsuccessfully challenged by George Mason’s head coach Jay Hosack.

Bolz’s kill and Little’s ace put the set within two for the Patriots as Penn State’s head coach Mark Pavlik used his final timeout of the set. Little’s service error and Rose’s kill cut George Mason’s lead to two as it used its first timeout of the set.

Ezeonu committed a service error out of the break to put the Patriots at match point. Kerr notched a kill but the set ended 25-22 in favor of George Mason after Michael Schwob’s service error.

The second set started with both teams recording kills, Heath for George Mason and Kerr for Penn State. Heath tallied his second kill of the set, but Kowal followed with a kill that floated over the net and then notched an ace.

Bolz tied the set at 3-3 with a kill. Penn State went on a 4-0 run with a kill from Kerr, an ace from Ezeonu, and two blocks. George Mason burned a timeout down 7-3.

Penn State’s lead grew once again due to an attack error by Heath but Peters ended the run with a kill. The Nittany Lions scored three more times with a kill by Rose, a block by Kerr and Rose, and an ace by Schwob to force the Patriots to use its last time out of the set at 11-4 Penn State.

After the break. Schwob committed a service error but Rose’s kill, Bolz’s attack error, and Kowal’s kill extended Penn State’s lead to ten. Penn State kept applying pressure as it scored three more times to make it 18-5. Hoyos finally got George Mason back in the scoring column with a kill but Penn State came right back with a Kowal kill.

The Patriots went on a 3-1 run to make it 20-9, but it was all Penn State the rest of the way. The Nittany Lions captured the second set 25-13 and scored off of two kills from Valenzi a kill by Schwob and service errors by Heath and Georgi Zahariev.

It was all Hoyos to start the third set. He tallied a kill and an ace, followed by a service error to make it 2-1. Ezeonu and Little both tallied kills and both teams committed a series of errors to tie the set at 4-4.

Back-and-forth play took over the set as both teams exchanged the next six scores. Peters and Kerr tallied kills for the respective squads as both teams exchanged errors and George Mason scored two straight off Hoyo’s kill and ace. Ezeonu’s kill cut the lead to one but Kowal committed a service error.

Valenzi’s kill cut the lead to one again but the Patriots wouldn’t give an inch. George Mason maintained its lead until Penn State took the lead at 15-14 after a 4-1 run. The run consisted of a Bolz service error, a kill from Kerr, and back-to-back aces from Valenzi.

After George Mason battled to keep its lead this set, Penn State started to do the same. The Patriots tied the set at 16-16 but Kerr’s kill and Ezeonu and Schwob’s block extended the lead to two. George Mason called a timeout but it tied the set out of the break with a kill from Bolz and an ace from Hoyos.

This time, Penn State called a timeout and Kerr notched a kill out of the break. Kowal’s service error and Schwob’s bad set gave George Mason a 20-19 lead. Penn State took the lead back off of Ezeonu’s kill and Heath’s attack error as the Patriots used its final timeout of the set.

After this break, Schwob’s hit was ruled out but Pavlik unsuccessfully challenged the call, saying it was touched by George Mason before going out. Troy McDonald’s kill gave the Patriots a one-score lead until Rose’s kill tied the set again at 22-22.

Schwob’s service error and Hoyo’s kill forced Penn State to use a timeout down 24-22. Rose cut the lead to one after the pause but a diving dig set up Bolz’s kill to give George Mason this set 25-23.

It was all Ezeonu to start the fourth set. Penn State jumped to a 3-0 lead off of an Ezeonu kill, an Ezeonu and Kowal block, and another Ezeonu kill. Little’s kill and Peter’s solo block cut the lead to two. Kowal tallied a kill but his service error and Kerr’s attack error tied the set at 4-4.

The back-and-forth play resumed as both squads exchanged the next six scores. George Mason took the lead after a Rose service error and another Hoyos ace. The Patriots fought off the Nittany Lions for the next six scores until Kerr and Rose’s kills gave Penn State a 14-12 lead.

Hosack used a timeout and Penn State continued to protect its lead after the break. McDonald cut the lead to one but Kerr answered with a kill of his own. Bolz notched a kill but McDonald’s service error and Carter Dittman’s ace extended the lead to 17-14.

Dittman then committed a service error but Penn State went on a 3-0 run off of two Patriot errors and an Ezeonu solo block. George Mason called a timeout as both teams exchanged the next six scores to put Penn State ahead at 23-18. The Nittany Lions forced a fifth set after two Heath error made it 25-18.

Ezeonu started the final set with a kill and he struck again moments later to give Penn State a 3-2 lead. A George Mason error and a Schwob kill extended Penn State’s lead to 5-2 and forced the Patriots to call a timeout.

Two Penn State errors cut its own lead to one but it was Schwob again to reextend the lead. A Penn State block and a Rose kill ended this half of the fifth set as both teams switched sides at 8-4 Penn State. Hoyos and Bolz got back-to-back kills unitl Hayden Karpinski’s service error kept Penn State’s lead at three.

Kerr’s kill was followed by Hoyos’s kill and service error. Bolz’s kill, Little’s service error, and Kowal’s service error made it 12-10 Penn State. Ezeonu’s kill put the game-winning set within two as Hoyos and Bolz’s kills cut the lead Penn State’s lead to one and forced the Nittany Lions to use a timeout.

Kerr’s two kills gave Penn State the final set victory at 15-13.

Takeaways

  • The EIVA continues to go through Penn State. This is the fourth straight season the Nittany Lions have hosted the EIVA Tournament. 
  • In maybe the biggest game of the season, Kerr stepped up in a big way. The fifth-year senior ended the night with 23 kills on .524 hitting, seven digs, four blocks, and an ace.
  • George Mason’s Bolz and Hoyos carried the Patriots despite the loss. Bolz ended the night with 19 kills, on .302 hitting, and Hoyos had 13 kills and six aces. 

What’s Next?

Penn State will hope to sweep George Mason for the last regular season match at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at Rec Hall. The match will be streamed 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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