Nittany Lions Bite Cougars in Comeback

Michael Burke had 11 kills as the Cougars lost 3-2 against Penn State in the championship match of the Hall of Fame Classic at Springfield College. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

SPRINGFIELD -- The Cougars let one slip away against Penn State, 30-20, 30-23, 21-30, 25-30, 10-15, Saturday night in the championship match of the Hall of Fame-Morgan Classic at Springfield College, losing the last three games after having a 2-0 advantage. No. 4 BYU is now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation while the No. 6 Nittany Lions are 7-2 overall.

"Penn State just got better and we let them do it," BYU Coach Tom Peterson said. "We're not good enough yet to play a full match all the way through."

It was the second meeting between the two teams, having played at the beginning of the season at the Outrigger Tournament. The match was much the same with the teams playing different roles. In that match, the Cougars fell behind two games to none and then stormed back to win.

BYU looked sharp in the first two games, winning with relative ease by scores of 30-20 and 30-23. It was not enough as the Cougars got out of rhythm and never recovered.

The Nittany Lions completed their comeback by winning the fifth game 15-10. BYU was within a point at 9-8 before Penn State went on a 6-2 run to close the game. Kills by Alex Gutor and Nate Meerstein put the Lions up 14-10 and Dan O'Dell finished things off by blocking Batista.

"Losing is never easy," Peterson said. "Especially to Penn State."

Peterson coached the Nittany Lions from 1989-94. He guided Penn State to a National Championship in 1994.

Casey Patterson and Victor Batista paced the Cougars with 20 kills each, a career high for Patterson. Taylor Evans and Michael Burke also had double-digit kills, registering 12 and 11 while hitting .588 and .500, respectively. Burke and Russell Holmes each had five blocks while Rob Neilson dished out 66 assists.

Burke and Patterson were named to the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team.

Penn State also had four players in double figures, Matt Proper being the high man with 18. Gutor had 16, Keith Kowal chalked up 13 and Meerstein had 11.

The Nittany Lions got the best of BYU on a strong hitting night for both teams. Penn State hit .438 (68-19-112) while the Cougars came in at .396 (74-21-134).

The Cougars blitzed the Nittany Lions in the first game, scoring the first five points including a kill and an ace by Patterson and a kill by Burke. Penn State never had a chance as the margin was never less than four, the last time at 18-14. BYU then went on a 5-1 run to put the game out of reach, getting two kills from Evans and one from Burke. The Cougars won 30-20, finishing the game with a Batista ace. Batista, Evans and Burke each registered four kills while BYU hit .500 (18-4-28) as a team. The Nittany Lions hit just .190 (10-4-21).

Game two was close early on, with Penn State leading at 6-4 before BYU tied the game at six. The score was tied at eight before the Cougars went on a 10-5 run to take the 18-13 lead. While it appeared that BYU would put the game away quickly, the Nittany Lions went on a run of their own, outscoring the Cougars 6-1 to knot the score at 19. With the score at 20-all, BYU then scored 10 of the next 13 to take the game, 30-23. Batista had seven kills while Evans added five. The Cougar offense was again strong, hitting .441 (19-4-34).

Penn State returned the favor in the third and fourth games, beating BYU 30-21 and 30-25. The Nittany Lions hit .522 and .500 in the games. In the third, Penn State grabbed its first lead at 5-4 and never looked back. The Cougars were in striking distance at 19-16 but never got on a run and allowed the Nittany Lions to get away.

In the fourth, Penn State pulled away with the score tied at nine by going on a 5-1 run to take a 14-10 lead. BYU once cut the lead to three at 25-22 on a kill by Russell Holmes but then allowed Penn State to take the next two points on a kill by Meerstein and an ace by Aaron Smith to put the game out of reach.

Peterson said for the Cougars to improve, they have to look inside and work on the mental errors.

"It's going to be up to how good of people we are underneath, mentally and not physically," Peterson said. "The ultimate success of this team not going to boil down to the win and loss record but to how good we are at the end of the season for the playoffs. It will be determined by our character and if we can make the necessary changes."

BYU will return to MPSF play next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11 and 12, to take on Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif. Friday's match will begin at 7 p.m. (PST) while Saturday's will start at 3 p.m.

Volleyball Box Score

Briham Young University - Volleyball

Brigham Young vs Penn State (Feb 05, 2005 at Springfield College)

Brigham Young | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3 BURKE, Michael...... 5| 11 2 18 .500| 1| 1 1| 1| 6| 0 5 1| 0| 14.5

9 PATTERSON, Casey.... 5| 20 7 38 .342| 1| 3 3| 0| 2| 0 2 0| 0| 24.0

11 HOLMES, Russell..... 5| 8 2 15 .400| 0| 2 3| 0| 2| 0 5 1| 0| 12.5

14 NEILSON, Rob........ 5| 3 1 5 .400| 66| 2 6| 0| 2| 1 3 0| 0| 7.5

15 BATISTA, Victor..... 5| 20 7 39 .333| 2| 1 3| 3| 4| 0 2 0| 0| 22.0

17 EVANS, Taylor....... 5| 12 2 17 .588| 1| 1 5| 2| 4| 0 4 1| 0| 15.0

2 STEWART, Bryan...... 4| 0 0 2 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

6 HEYES, Matt......... 2| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 1| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

7 ROWLEY, Brian....... 5| 0 0 0 .000| 1| 0 0| 1| 3| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 5| 74 21 134 .396| 72| 10 22| 7| 23| 1 21 3| 0| 95.5

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 11.5

Game K E TA Pct

1 18 4 28 .500 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 5 TEAM RECORDS

2 19 4 34 .441 Brigham Young....... (2) 30 30 21 25 10 7-4

3 16 8 29 .276 Penn State.......... (3) 20 23 30 30 15 7-2

4 16 3 33 .394

5 5 2 10 .300

Penn State | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 O'Dell, Dan......... 5| 3 0 5 .600| 61| 1 1| 0| 3| 2 3 0| 0| 7.5

4 Proper, Matt........ 5| 18 5 33 .394| 0| 2 3| 0| 7| 1 1 1| 0| 21.5

8 Smith, Aaron........ 5| 7 3 13 .308| 2| 1 4| 3| 9| 0 1 0| 0| 8.5

10 Gutor, Alex......... 5| 16 9 27 .259| 1| 0 3| 6| 3| 0 4 0| 0| 18.0

11 Meerstein, Nate..... 5| 11 1 15 .667| 0| 0 1| 0| 2| 0 3 0| 0| 12.5

14 Kowal, Keith........ 5| 13 1 19 .632| 0| 0 0| 0| 1| 0 4 1| 0| 15.0

1 Vogel, Gary......... 5| 0 0 0 .000| 2| 0 0| 1| 6| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

3 Masterson, Kyle..... 3| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

5 Fernandez, Guillermo 5| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

6 Walthall, Ryan...... 5| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 3 1| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 3.0

16 Murray, Luke........ 2| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 5| 68 19 112 .438| 66| 7 13| 10| 31| 3 16 2| 0| 86.0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 11.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 10 6 21 .190 Site: Springfield College (Blake Arena)

2 13 3 28 .357 Date: Feb 05, 2005 Attend: 822 Time: 2:10

3 16 4 23 .522 Referees: M. Paull, D. Carson, J. Limeres, T. Waniewski

4 21 6 30 .500

5 8 0 10 .800

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Tie scores 0 5 2 9 4 20

Lead changes 1 2 2 4 4 13

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Tags: Results