STANFORD, Calif. – Fifth-seeded No. 6 Penn State men's volleyball (21-9) knocked off fourth-seeded Hawaii (24-7) in four sets (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25) Tuesday evening at Maples Pavilion. With the victory, the Nittany Lions have earned a spot in the NCAA national semifinals for the 17th consecutive season.
Penn State is set to square off against top-ranked Lewis (25-3) in the second semifinal match Thursday, May 7 at 11 p.m. ET. The winner of the matchup will advance to the NCAA national finals, meeting the winner of the Loyola-UC-Irvine matchup for the title.
Three Nittany Lions recorded double figure kills in the win, led by senior Aaron Russell, who tallied 20 kills, seven digs and four blocks. Redshirt senior Nick Goodell followed close behind with 19 kills on .378 hitting. Sophomore Chris Nugent rounded out the group with 15 kills, five digs and two blocks.
Senior Connor Curry anchored the defense with nine digs, while redshirt junior Matt Seifert added four blocks.
Tied up at 5-5 early in the first set, Russell sparked a 4-0 run with back-to-back kills to lift Penn State ahead, 9-4, causing Hawaii to call a timeout. The Rainbow Warriors came out of the break with a kill, 9-6, but a kill from Goodell and a block by Russell and Seifert opened up a 7-3 stretch that sent PSU ahead by as many as seven, 16-9.
Hawaii looked to put an end to the streak with a timeout, but Callaway and Nugent teamed up for a block to spark a 3-1 strike that bolstered the advantage to nine, 19-10. UH answered with a 3-1 spurt, 20-13, but two kills from Russell in between one from Hawaii kept the Nittany Lions on top, 22-14. The Rainbow Warriors came battling back with a 5-0 run to arrive within three, 22-19. Russell quickly thwarted the attempt with a pair of kills to make it set point, 24-19.
The Rainbow Warriors held off three consecutive set point attempts before a service error gave Penn State a 25-22 win in the first set.
With just a slim one-point lead in the second set, 6-5, a kill from Nugent and a trio of Rainbow Warrior attack errors doubled the Nittany Lion lead, 10-5. Hawaii followed with a 5-2 streak to trim the PSU advantage to two, 12-10. Goodell answered with a kill, opening up a 6-3 stretch capped off by kills from Seifert and Russell that brought PSU back up by five, 18-13.
Hawaii used a 3-1 strike to arrive back within three, 19-16. The Nittany Lions and the Rainbow Warriors briefly traded points to keep it tight, 23-20. Russell put away two consecutive kills to wrap up a 25-20 win in the second set.
Hawaii shot out to a 5-2 lead in the third set before a service error cut off UH's momentum. Russell looked to spark a run with a kill, 6-4, but the Rainbow Warriors followed with a pair of kills to go up by four, 8-4, prompting Penn State to call a timeout. Russell came out of the break with two consecutive kills to pull Penn State within two, 8-6, but the Rainbow Warriors used a 5-3 stretch to keep control of the lead, 13-9. PSU looked to regroup with back-to-back kills from Nugent, 13-11, but the Rainbow Warriors continued to match the Nittany Lions point-for-point, 17-12.
A kill from Russell and an ace from Nugent lifted Penn State back within three, 17-14, but a 4-1 Hawaii run moved the Rainbow Warriors up by as many as five, 21-15. Russell looked to cut off the run with a kill, 21-16, but Hawaii used a 4-1 streak to close out a 25-17 win in the third set.
Trailing by one in the fourth set, 7-6, Russell and Goodell opened a 3-1 strike with two consecutive kills to bring Penn State up by one, 9-8. UH quickly responded with a 5-1 run to move back ahead by three, 13-10, causing the Nittany Lions to call a timeout. Penn State came out of the break with a 4-1 streak to knot the frame, 14-14.
Both teams continued to trade points, tying the score seven more times. With the score locked up a 21-21, a pair of Rainbow Warrior attack errors gave the Nittany Lions a two-point edge, 23-21. Hawaii answered back with a kill and block to keep the score tied up, 23-23, causing Penn State to call a timeout. Callaway and Hammond came out of the huddle with a huge block to make it match point, 24-23. Hawaii and Penn State traded points two more times, 25-25, before a kill from Russell and a Rainbow Warrior attack error secured a 27-25 win in favor of the Nittany Lions to seal a 3-1 win.