Men's Volleyball v. Merrimack 2

Penn State players celebrate a spike by Will Kuhns (17) at Rec Hall in a match against Merrimack on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions defeated Merrimack 3-0.

On consecutive nights, No. 3 Penn State countered one of the nation’s powerhouses under a rival road crowd.

It was the Nittany Lions to survive in a marquee battle, snapping No. 1 Hawaii’s 25-game winning streak in a signature victory.

Unlike the last couple of matches, the Nittany Lions avoided the slow start, attacking early with a .625% hitting percentage to a quick 6-2 lead.

The home team looked to falter in the early stages but was able to capitalize off mistakes from the blue and white. After trailing by as many as six points, Hawaii stormed back and tied the game 13-13 with only one kill, while Penn State gave up seven service errors.

Coming out of the media timeout, the home team found some rhythm at the net. Consecutive blocks from junior opposite hitter Spyros Chakas ignited the home crowd in a 3-0 run, securing the first lead for Hawaii since the opening period, 20-19.

The Nea Smyrni, Greece, native, continued his dazzling performance at the net, adding two potent kills to extend the gap, forcing the second timeout by coach Mark Pavlik; however, it didn’t work.

Unfortunately for Penn State, Set 1 became a disastrous collapse after some sloppy errors. The match became a different story with a 10-point shift. With 11 service errors, the Nittany Lions burned an early 10-4 lead and dropped the first set 25-21.

Similarly to the first set, Penn State jumped out to a 5-2 lead after a successful challenge by Pavlik which overturned a call into a Cal Fisher service ace. Still, Hawaii rallied with another 3-0 scoring run to tie it up.

The Nittany Lions were able to maintain a faint lead in the scorching contest with eight ties. Entering the media timeout, the score was 15-14 in favor of Penn State, thanks to an ace from Cole Bogner.

After an atypical night with one kill in the previous match against UCLA, Fisher came alive with a hot hand in the second set. His team-high seven kills helped the team match up against Hawaii’s firepower. Whenever the home team kept things tight, Penn State responded with consistent scores.

Despite the pressure from Hawaii, Penn State was able to hold on this time in Set 2 after a clutch kill from Owen Rose, tying the match at 1-1.

Mens Volleyball vs USC, Kowal

Penn State outside hitter Michal Kowal (8) bumps the ball in the game against USC on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions won 3-1.

Entering the pivotal Set 3, the stressful atmosphere remained as a tight score. Penn State carried the same momentum to capture the lead, but the gritty plays from Hawaii didn’t allow the blue and white to pull away.

The back-and-forth battle ended in a 3-0 run from Penn State thanks to big plays from Michal Kowal, as the road team finally caught a breather with a sizable four-point lead, forcing a timeout for the Rainbow Warriors.

With solid performances at the net, the Nittany Lions continued to stifle Hawaii's offense, as the nation’s top team looked bewildered in the match, giving up another 5-1 run and trailing its largest deficit of the season, 19-11.

On the other hand, hitters from Penn State continued to gash the home team’s defense. Led by Brett Wildman and Toby Ezeonu, Penn State extended its lead with ensuing kills.

Despite a late surge from the home team to make the set interesting, Penn State closed Set 3 with an Ezeonu kill, 25-21. Hawaii dropped two sets in a game with its back against the wall for the first time in the season.

The Nittany Lions roared, grasping another aggressive lead to start Set 4. The balanced firepower opened its floodgate, silencing the home crowd with a 9-5 lead after five different Lions racked up kills.

Despite the efforts from Hawaii to close the gap, Penn State continued to manage the game in a four-point span, entering the media timeout at 14-10.

While it seemed like Penn State held in control, Hawaii burst another 6-1 scoring wave in desperate moments, including two controversial calls and unsuccessful challenges from the Nittany Lions. Penn State was out of challenges for the remainder of the match, and the score was tied at 17-17.

In nail-biting moments, the game became a back-and-forth slugfest. After a 3-0 run from the Nittany Lions, Hawaii answered right back with a run to tie the game at 23-23.

However, the high-efficiency offense scored consecutive kills and helped Penn State close the set 25-23, handing the first loss to Hawaii on the season.



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Wen Xiang is a men's volleyball reporter for The Daily Collegian. He is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in sports studies