Penn State has done it again.
The No. 14-ranked Nittany Lions knocked off No. 5 Lewis Saturday in Romeoville, Illinois, just 24 hours after sweeping No. 12 Loyola in Chicago.
Penn State came back from down 0-2 to win in five, even after losing a second set that went back and forth well into the 30s.
“This was a match that our resiliency was a big factor, especially building off our effort at Loyola yesterday,” PSU head coach Mark Pavlik said.
On the other hand, UC San Diego, which beat No. 3 UCLA Friday, couldn’t hold on to its momentum, instead losing to Grand Canyon Saturday.
Sunday, there is just one match on the schedule: Quincy hosts Campbellsville of the NAIA.
Coaches put plenty of emphasis on the serve-pass game and always give it credit for the outcome of matches, and certainly that was the case in the five-set win (22-25, 36-38, 25-14, 25-20, 15-12) for Penn State (2-2) over Lewis (3-3).
On the match, PSU tallied nine aces, without allowing Lewis to score one. Will Bantle, Penn State’s 6-5 redshirt sophomore libero, went a perfect 22-for-22 on serve receive in addition to scooping a personal-best 19 digs.
“I think our passers matched up exceptionally well with their servers and to not finish with a receiving error in a five-set match against a talented team like that is outstanding,” Pavlik said.
Brett Wildman led the Penn State offense with 17 kills, hitting .364, while Bobby Wilden and Calvin Mende each added 16 kills. Lewis’ Ryan Coenen led all players with 21 kills. Penn State middle Jason Donorovich and Lewis middle TJ Murray tied for the match-high with five block assists each.
“We felt pretty good about our last 12 to 14 points in the second set and we preached to the guys to keep at it,” Pavlik said of the comeback from down 0-2. “Lewis was coming off an emotional match last night against Hawai’i and we thought the longer we hung around, the better off we’d be and that’s how it played out.”
The victory marks the first time in Penn State men’s volleyball history that the Nittany Lions have scored road wins over Loyola and Lewis in the same season.
Grand Canyon (3-2) beat UCSD (3-2) in four sets Saturday night (25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 29-27), and middle Ian McLain tied the program’s record for hitting percentage in a match. The 6-7 redshirt (and redhead) junior went 12 for 14 with zero errors for a .857 percentage.
“Luckily, I was feeling good tonight and ready to go,” McLain said. “It’s a big win for us so we’ve got to move on to the next tournament, but we’ll enjoy this one while it lasts.”
Redshirt sophomore opposite Hugo Fischer, a newcomer to the GCU starting lineup this season, set career-highs in not one, not two, but three categories with seven kills, five digs, and five blocks. Outsides Christian Janke and Camden Gianni led the Lopes with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, and middle Kyle Thompson had eight to go with three blocks.
“It freed up our pins,” Werle said of his middles’ performances. “All of our pins were pretty good. Hugo’s kind of stepping into his own and burying balls. When you can get our middles going and our serve receive allowing us to get out middles going, it makes everyone else better. Ian is such a threat. We know Kyle is a big threat. So being able to get them the ball and establish that middle, it’s only going to make everyone else better.”
For UCSD, Kyle McCauley had 17 kills, and setter Connor Walbrecht recorded 40 assists, eight digs, three blocks, two aces, and two kills.
No. 1 Hawai’i stretched its win streak to seven in a row, celebrating a road victory over No. 12 Loyola Saturday afternoon. The Warriors dropped the first set and had to come back from down by as many as three points late in the second to win the match in four (22-25, 25-23, 25-20, 27-25).
Colton Cowell returned to the lineup for Hawai’i after sitting out Friday’s match versus Lewis, and the senior outside hitter set a new career-high with 19 kills, adding eight digs and two aces for good measure. Senior opposite Rado Parapunov also improved on his personal best, leading all players with 24 kills, hitting .429.
Hawai’i freshman Brett Sheward replaced starting setter Jakob Thelle at the start of the second set and finished the match with 39 assists.
Led by five blocks each from middle Patrick Gasman and Parapunov, Hawai’i out-blocked Loyola 12 to seven. Cole Schlothauer recorded a team-high 16 kills for Loyola.
Ball State (3-1) traveled to Santa Barbara Saturday and dropped a straight-set match (25-19, 25-16, 25-13) to No. 4 UCSB (5-0). The decision stretched the Gauchos’ set win-streak to 15 in a row.
UCSB senior hitter Randy DeWeese, who was the team’s starting setter in 2019, was the only player on either team to reach double-digit kills, recording 10 with just two errors on 20 swings to hit .400. As a team, UCSB hit .392 to Ball State’s .070.
McKendree (3-2) defeated Saint Francis (1-3) in straight sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-23), utilizing a well-balanced offense. Junior outside hitter Patrick Ross led with seven kills, while the Bearcats got six kills from middle Wyatt Dimke, five from opposite Zach Schnittker, and four each from middle Lucas Galifos and outside Ethan Carroll. Setter Ryan Serrano had 25 assists to quarterback McKendree to a .254 team hitting percentage.
Plagued by hitting errors, Saint Francis hit just .038, with Blake Liprando the only player who didn’t hit .000.
Saint Francis Brooklyn (1-1) celebrated a victory in its first home match of the season, beating DIII Baruch 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-18). The win was also Niko Lambert’s first at the helm of the Terrier program.
Saint Francis had three players in double-digit kills—David Vorfi (13), James Henneberry (12), and Johnny Gerraro (11)—and hit .365 as a team.
Belmont Abbey (2-3) pulled off a dominant victory over first-year team Tusculum (1-5), with Gage Giller setting a new career-high with eight kills. Sixteen players saw the court for Belmont Abbey, and setter Brennan Davis finished the match with 18 assists, a kill, an ace, seven digs, and two blocks.
Tusculum struggled with hitting errors, hitting -.100 on the match. Matteo Miselli led the team with four kills.
Limestone (1-0) opened its season with a victory, winning a five-setter over Charleston (1-5). In his collegiate debut, freshman opposite Vicente Mardones of Santiago, Chile, collected 12 kills, three aces, and six blocks. Libero Michal Podgorzak set a match-high with 19 digs.
As a team, Limestone out-blocked Charleston 14 to seven. Charleston’s Lachlan Bray led all players with 14 kills.
Quincy (1-3) defeated the reigning NAIA champ Benedictine Mesa in straight sets (28-26, 25-23, 25-20), and senior opposite Omari Wheeler led the Redhawks offensive efforts with 17 kills. Freshman outside hitter Eddie Jakubauskas added 12 kills and hit a team-high .409.
On the Benedictine Mesa side, Landon Fuller and Bobby Henige each contributed 10 kills, with Henige making just one error to hit .563.
Setter Roque Nido, a member of the Puerto Rico national team, recorded a double-double (38 assists, 10 digs) to help lift NJIT (2-2) to a four-set (20-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-20) victory over Lindenwood (2-2). Nido led the Highlander offense to a .219 hitting percentage, despite 14 blocks from Lindenwood. Forty-one digs from the NJIT defense helped hold Lindenwood to a .150 team hitting percentage.
Offensively, three Highlanders made it to double-digit kills: Jens Feldthus (11), Julian Meissner (11), and Alvaro Gimeno (10). Jeremy Kirch and Diego Negron led Lindenwood with 13 points each, Kirch scoring 11 kills, and ace, and a block and Negron adding two blocks and five aces to six kills.
Against Bluefield College (0-1), Erskine (1-1) won in straight sets (25-20, 30-28, 25-23), despite hitting just .181 to Bluefield’s .211. Serving and defense made the difference for the Fleet, as they landed 11 aces to their opponent’s six and out-dug the Rams 32 to 25. Jason Sall led Erskine with 11 kills and four aces.