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Hawai'i Outlasts Penn State, 3-2, in NCAA Opening Round

Hawai'i Outlasts Penn State, 3-2, in NCAA Opening Round

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Volleyball is a game of momentum and runs, Hawai'i used a 8-0 run to end the Nittany Lions season in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament Tuesday night in St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State.

The Rainbow Warriors (27-5) outlasted Penn State (21-11) in a five set rollercoaster downing the Nittany Lions 3-2 (25-23, 25-27, 25-17, 14-25, 4-15) and ending Penn State's season.

"First off, I'd like to congratulate Hawai'i," said head coach Mark Pavlik.

"Traveling six time zones and getting ready to play in 48-hours is a tough thing to do. I thought that games 1-2-3 we were right there. We were doing everything we wanted, our first contacts kept us in there. Games four and five, all of a sudden the shrapnel exploded, there was no real consistency in our first contact, we couldn't run the offense that we were running, Hawai'i puts you in two pass enough and they're physical enough and athletic enough that they're going to make you pay."

Redshirt-Freshman Calvin Mende led the Lions is kills on the night racking up 18 that trailed only Hawai'i's Stijn van Tilburg who had a match-high 20 for the Rainbow Warriors.

Luke Braswell led Penn State in assist recording 43 on the night while Royce Clemens led in digs with nine and Kevin Gear led in blocks with six on the night.

The Nittany Lions opened the match with a 25-23 win over Hawai'i that saw the match tied as late as 23-23 before a Rainbow Warrior service error followed by a Rainbow Warrior attack error clinched the opening set for Penn State.

Hawai'i responded with a 27-25 win over Penn State in the second set to knot the match at one set apiece.

Set three saw Penn State assert it's physicality as the Lions won by eight points (25-17) and trailed for only a lone point before regaining the lead and continuing to swing away, finishing the set with a hitting percentage of .474 and siding out at 88%. Penn State held Hawai'i to .188 hitting percentage and forced the Rainbow Warriors to commit eight errors, a match high for Hawai'i.

Hawai'i took the fourth set 25-14, setting up the fifth and deciding set to decide who would advance to the NCAA Semifinal.

The Rainbow Warriors struck first, scoring the first three points off Nittany Lion errors forcing Penn State to use their first timeout of the set.

Out of the timeout, The Lions got on the board with a kill from Kevin Gear in the middle of the Rainbow Warrior defense.

Hawai'i's Jennings Franciskovic laid down back-to-back kills, coupled with a Penn State attack error to put the Nittany Lions in a 6-1 hole as Pavlik called his second timeout of the set.

Penn State scored two more times in the set clawing to within three points, trailing 7-4, before the scoring ran dry.

Hawai'I clinched the berth to the NCAA Semifinal on an 8-0 run to cap the match at 15-4 and take the match 3-2.

Penn State dropped to 21-11 and saw its season come to a close in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament.

"You've got Calvin Mende who's shown flashes of brilliance at times, we have a redshirt-freshman setter that did some really nice things out there for his first time under the big lights," said Pavlik.

"I think we have some young kids who made the trip that didn't get a chance to get on the court but I'm real excited with what we've got coming back."

Penn State captured its 30th EIVA Tournament title following the 33rd regular season title in program history.