May 3, 2007

UC Irvine advances to NCAA Championship with 3-1 victory over Penn State

May 3, 2007

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May 3, 2007

Columbus, Ohio - UC Irvine defeated Penn State, 3-1 (30-25, 30-22, 26-30, 30-23) in an NCAA semifinal match at the St. John Arena Thursday and will advance to the NCAA Championship final against IPFW Saturday at 4:00 p.m. PDT.

With the win UCI sets a new school record for wins in a season with a 28-5 mark, bettering last year's record of 27-4.

UC Irvine controlled game one and were leading 20-15 before the Nittany Lions rallied to knot the score at 24-24 on a kill by Matt Anderson. UCI then scored the next three points on two Jablonsky kills followed by a service ace by Webber to push the Anteater lead to 27-24. Following a Gutor kill for Penn State, Jablonsky pounded another kill and a block by Wilson and Smith gave UCI match point. David Smith ended the game with a kill, 30-25. Both teams struggled offensively in the first set with UCI hitting .083 and Penn State at 0.91. The Anteaters had four service aces.

Penn State jumped out to a 9-6 lead in game two and lead until a Wilson kill tied the score at 12-12. The teams traded points until a pair of Nittany Lion hitting errors gave UCI the 16-14 advantage. Matt Webber fired his 47 service ace of the season to give UCI the 26-19 lead, breaking Spencer Bemus' old record of 46 set in 2003. The Anteaters would go on to take the set 30-22 with Webber pacing UCI with nine kills, including the game winner. UCI would hit .464 in the second game.

The lead was never more than two most of game three. With the scored tied 24-24 a UCI service error was followed by a Penn State block to give the Nittany Lions the 26-24 lead. The cushion late in the game was all Penn State would need as they won the third set 30-26. Penn State hit a blistering .630 (18-1-27).

The Anteaters jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead and never looked back going on to a 30-23 victory. Penn State closed to 24-21, but Jablonsky banged a kill and Penn State had two hitting errors, including a block by Smith and Thornton to extend the lead to 27-21. Harrell ended the match with a kill in the middle.

Matt Webber led all players with 19 kills followed by Jayson Jablonsky with 14. Both Webber and Jablonsky fired two aces on the night. David Smith hit .625 on 11 kills on 16 swings with just one error. Smith also had a team-best five blocks and two aces. Taylor Wilson added 10 kills. Setter Brian Thornton had 51 assists and a team-high nine digs to go with two solo and two block assists.

Matt Anderson led Penn State (22-8) with 16 kills. Alex Gutor totaled 13 kills with Max Holt adding 12 kills. Ryan Walthall had a match-high 12 digs in the loss. Penn State out-blocked UCI 14.5 to 11.5.