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No. 5 Penn State, No. 1 Lewis Clash in NCAA National Semifinals

No. 5 Penn State, No. 1 Lewis Clash in NCAA National Semifinals

STANFORD, Calif. – Fifth-seeded Penn State (21-9) is set to make its 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA national semifinals, taking on top-seeded Lewis (26-3) Thursday, May 7 at 11 p.m. ET in Stanford, Calif. at Maples Pavilion.

Penn State pushed past fourth-seeded Hawaii in four sets (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25) in the NCAA play-in match to earn the final remaining spot in the four-team NCAA semifinal field. The winner of the Penn State/Lewis matchup will advance to the NCAA national finals Saturday, May 9, squaring off against the winner of the Loyola/UC-Irvine semifinal for the national championship crown.

Fans can tune into both a live audio and live video stream of the match, free of charge. Additionally, fans living locally in the University Park and surrounding areas may also listen to a live broadcast on WRSC-FM-103.1.

QUICKS SETS

*   A trio of Nittany Lions recorded double figure kills in the Penn State play-in victory against Hawaii, 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, while sophomore Chris Nugent rounded out the group with 15 kills.

*   Penn State holds a 19-10 advantage in the all-time series against Lewis. The two teams have met only once in postseason play, as PSU knocked off the Flyers in four sets in the 2014 NCAA play-in match to advance to the NCAA national semifinals. This year, PSU fell short in four sets to the Flyers in both regular season outings at home and on the road.

*   Senior Aaron Russell earned first team AVCA All-America honors for the second consecutive season. He’s the seventh multi-year first team All-American in Penn State program history and the first Nittany Lion to earn back-to-back first team selections since Max Lipsitz (2009-10).

*   Penn State jumped up one spot to No. 6 in the AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll. PSU has been in the top 15 the last eight consecutive weeks since spending a month receiving votes. The Nittany Lions saw a total of 11 ranked teams during the regular season.

*   Penn State swept past both Princeton and George Mason last week to capture its 27th over­all and 17th consecutive EIVA Championship to earn the conference’s automatic bid to NCAA post season play. Three-time EIVA Player of the Year Aaron Russell earned EIVA All-Tournament MVP honors, while redshirt senior Connor Curry and sophomore Chris Nugent joined him on the All-Tournament team.

PENN STATE PUSHES PAST HAWAII TO ADVANCE TO NCAA NATIONAL SEMIFINALS 
No. 5 Penn State knocked off fourth-seeded Hawaii in four sets (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27- 25) to earn a spot in the NCAA national semifinals for the 17th consecutive season. Three 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 with 19 kills on .378 hitting. Sophomore Chris Nugent rounded out the group with 15 kills, five digs and two blocks.

RUSSELL EARNS FIRST TEAM AVCA ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior Aaron Russell earned first team AVCA All-America honors, marking the second consecutive season he has been selected to the first team. Russell is one of 10 student-athletes from around the nation to earn first team distinction, which improves Penn State's total number of AVCA All-Americans to 82 since 1971. He's also the seventh multi-year first team All-American in Penn State program history and the first Nittany Lion to earn back-to-back first team selections since Max Lipsitz (2009-10).

NITTANY LIONS CAPTURE 17TH CONSECUTIVE EIVA CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE 
Top-seeded Penn State swept past third-seeded George Mason in three sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-17) to capture its 27th overall and 17th consecutive EIVA Championship title. A trio of Nittany Lions led the offense with double figure kills. Senior EIVA Player of the Year Aaron Russell led the group with 15 kills on .619 hitting, adding six digs and two aces to earn EIVA Championship Most Outstanding Player honors. Sophomore Chris Nugent and senior Con­nor Curry also earned EIVA All-Tournament team honors.

AVCA DI-II COACHES’ POLL UPDATE: MAY 4 
Penn State jumped up one spot to No. 6 in the AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll. PSU has been in the top 15 the last eight consecutive weeks since spending a month receiving votes. The Nittany Lions saw a total of 11 ranked teams during the regular season.

A CLOSER LOOK AT LEWIS 
Penn State holds a 19-10 advantage in the all-time series against Lewis. The two teams have met only once in postseason play, as PSU knocked off the Flyers in four sets in the 2014 NCAA play-in match to advance to the NCAA national semifinals.

The Nittany Lions lost both matches to Lewis during the 2015 regular season. Penn State lost a 3-1 matchup (18-25, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25) at home Jan. 24 before falling again on the road in four sets (15-25, 28-26, 18-25, 20-25) Feb. 20 in Romeoville, Ill. At least one Nittany Lion has recorded 20 or more kills in each 2015 regular season outing.  Aaron Russell put away 23 kills in the loss at home, while Nick Goodell notched 20 in the loss on the road.

Lewis’ 2015 season came to a close with a 3-1 loss to Loyola in the MIVA Championship finals. The Flyers finished the season with a 26-3 overall record and a 15-1 mark in MIVA play before earning one of two NCAA at-large bids to make this year’s six-team tourna­ment. With the top overall seed, the Flyers earned a bye to the semifinals.

LOOKING AHEAD 
The winner of the Penn State-Lewis match will advance to the NCAA national finals Saturday, May 9, with a matchup set against the winner of the No. 2 Loyola vs. No. 3 UC-Irvine semifinal for the national championship crown.  First serve for the NCAA national finals is set for 
Saturday, May 9 at 9:30 p.m. ET in Maples Pavilion. The matchup will broadcast live on ESPNU.