Men's volleyball faces No. 1 BYU in NCAA Semifinals

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 14th-ranked and No. 4 seed Penn State men's volleyball team is set to compete in the NCAA National Collegiate Men's Volleyball Championship. The Nittany Lions face BYU on Thursday, May 2 at 11 p.m. ET in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

Live stats and live streaming are available at NCAA.com. In addition, fans can listen live starting at 10:45 p.m. ET on NewsRadio 103 WRSC (103.1 FM) in State College and surrounding areas, as well as online at GoPSUsports.com.

Nittany Lion Preview
Penn State defeated both Princeton (3-0) and Harvard (3-0) to win the program's 25th overall EIVA Tournament title. Sophomore Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) led Penn State with 5.17 kills per set, 3.33 digs per set, 0.67 aces per set and 0.67 blocks per set. He garnered Most Outstanding Player honors. Redshirt sophomore Nick Goodell (Ambridge, Pa.) was second on the team with 3.83 kills per set, while junior Peter Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) had 3.67 per set. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond (Mission Viejo, Calif.) paced the offense with 12.50 assists per set and redshirt sophomore Connor Curry (Newport Beach, Calif.) was second on the squad with 3.00 digs per set.

In the EIVA Tournament Penn State hit .433 and averaged 15.33 kills, 14.00 assists, 2.33 aces, 9.50 digs per set and 1.17 blocks per set.

Penn State vs. BYU
The Cougars hold a slim 10-9 lead in the series with Penn State. This will be the first meeting in 2013 between the two teams. BYU and Penn State last met in 2012 during the regular season where BYU won both matches, which were played on their home court.

Scouting the Cougars
BYU is 25-4 this season. The Cougars won the MPSF title with a 3-0 sweep of Long Beach State. This is their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have won three titles (1999, 2001, 2004).

BYU is led offensively by junior outside Taylor Sander and freshman opposite Ben Patch, who averaged 3.82 and 3.63 kills per set, respectively. Senior setter Ryan Boyce is the team's primary setter and paces the offense at 10.37 assists per set. At the service line, Sander is averaging an impressive 0.38 aces per set and also had a team-high 1.50 digs per set. Senior middle Russ Lavaja is the top blocker among the Cougars with 1.19 blocks per set.

Penn State vs. possible opponents in the NCAA Championship
Penn State vs. Loyola-Chicago
The Nittany Lions are 10-7 all-time against the Ramblers. Earlier this season, Penn State hosted Loyola at Rec Hall on Jan. 22. The Nittany Lions earned a 3-0 sweep.

Penn State vs. UC Irvine
The Anteaters lead the series with Penn State 7-4. Penn State traveled to UC Irvine on April 13, 2013, but suffered a 3-0 setback to the Anteaters.

What's Next?
Should Penn State defeat BYU, the Nittany Lions will face the winner of the Loyola/UC Irvine match in the NCAA Championship on May 4. Action is set for 9 p.m. ET in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com.

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Last Updated July 11, 2014