MVB: Ohio St. swept, Penn St. for NCAA crown

Led by newly crowned AVCA National Player of the Year Kawika Shoji, Stanford earned an appearance in its third NCAA Final in men's volleyball, and its first since its 1997 championship, in a steady workmanlike manner by sweeping a pesky and game Ohio State 3-0 (30-25, 30-26. 30-17) before a crowd of nearly 4,000 (including at least 50 Imperial Storm Troopers from the Stanford KA Fraternity).

Stanford plays 12th-ranked and No. 3 seed Penn State in the Saturday final, an upset winner over No. 2 seed CSU Northridge.

Ohio State Recap

In overpowering Ohio State, Stanford held the Buckeyes to .217 hitting, while hitting .375. Stanford also held a 12-7 edge in team blocks. Stanford was led by a fired up senior OPP Evan Romero, who was nearly unstoppable with 15 kills on .500 hitting and several key and very emphatic stuff blocks. Sophomore OH Brad Lawson had a strong game with 14 kills on .323 hitting. Gus Ellis played a magnificent game at the net with 8 block assists. Sophomore libero and All-American Erik Shoji led the defense with 12 digs for the Cardinal.

Ohio State gamely stayed with Stanford for the first two sets with their tremendous back-row defense. Both teams showed tremendous heart and effort on defense by going after every ball, resulting in several extended rallies. Stanford eventually wore down Ohio State with its pinpoint passing and tremendous hitting, serving and blocking. In particular, Stanford held Ohio State's All-American OH Shawn Shangrey to only 12 kills, with a .147 hitting percentage that included seven errors. Strong serving from substitutes Jake Kneller and Jason Palacios, and key aces from Brad Lawson (three) and Evan Romero (two) ultimately broke open each of the three sets for Stanford..

Penn State preview

Penn State (24-7) brings an experienced team to the NCAA Finals, including four starters who were members of Penn State's 2008 NCAA championship team, and five returning starters from their 2009 team. Both teams will bring a excellent and highly efficient offenses to the final, with Penn State hitting at a .330 pace to Stanford's .353.

Penn State earned its trip to the Finals by defeating handily a flat CSU Northridge in three sets (30-21, 30-23, 30-28). Will Price (Sr. OPP, 6'5") and Joe Sunder (RS-So. OH, 6'7") led Penn State with 18 kills apiece. Dennis Del Valle (Jr. L, 5'8") had 17 digs and Max Lipsitz (Sr. MH, 6'7") had nine blocks, including two solo. CSU Northridge's only bright spot was Jacek Ratjczak, its 7'2" All-American MH, who had 15 kills on .357 hitting and 6 block assists and two solo blocks.

Penn State is led by its three-time All-American, Max Lipsitz , who averages 1.44 blocks per game. Penn State's other 2010 All-American is Dennis Del Valle , who delivers 3.53 digs per set. The Penn State offense is run by setter Edgardo Goas (RS-So. S, 6'5"), a teammate of Del Valle's on the Puerto Rican Junior National Team. Other impact players for Penn State include 2009 All-American Will Price , who leads the team with 4.52 kills per set over the season.

Penn State played five matches vs. MPSF teams, winning three and losing two. Penn State lost to USC 3-0 and to BYU 3-1, and defeated Hawaii 3-2, UC Irvine 3-2, and Long Beach State 3-0 over the course of the 2010 season.

Penn State hasn't played Stanford since a 3-0 win in 2006, but many of the players are familiar with each other -- Will Price and Max Lipsitz are former teammates of Kawika Shoji on the USA Junior National Team, for example. Penn State has won 25 EIVA championships, 21 EIVA league titles and has made 24 NCAA tournament appearances. Penn State has also won the NCAA title twice, in 1994 and 2008.

Come to Maples and make some noise on 4 p.m. Saturday as the Cardinal take their best remaining shot to experience catharsis and extend a 34-year national title streak in serious jeopardy.

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