It only took two days to reduced the field competing for the 2004 NCAA Men's Volleyball title from 24 to 12 teams, but during those matches players from the East, Midwest, and West turned in performances to garner individual and team attention.
Beginning in the East, Penn State Sophomore Matt Proper notched 16 kills on 23 attempts, hitting .565 in a 3-0 sweep of Sacred Heart in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Quarterfinals and junior Keith Kowal registered 11 kills and hit .529. Sophomores Kevin Wentzel and Nate Meerstein tallied 10 and seven kills, respectively. As a team, No. 7 Penn State (21-6) outhit the Pioneers (16-8), .405 to .191, for the match, including .462 to .083 in the third game. The Nittany Lions host the EIVA Semifinals which get underway on April 29.
George Mason (7-16) was lead by Junior outside hitter Felix Campos' 26 kills and .489 hitting efficiency in overcoming Princeton (13-10) to advance to the EIVA Semifinals against Penn State. Junior setter Dave Egan had 47 assists in the match that the Patriots won 3-1. Princeton's Jason Liljestrom, the only senior starter for the Tigers, punctuated the end of his career with 51 assists, five aces, eight digs and four blocks.
Rutgers-Newark (15-10) hit .471 as a team to down Division III No. 2 New York University (20-8) and preserve a perfect home court record of 11-0 for the 2004 season. Senior setter Aleks Ondelj dished up 41 assists, including 15 to Junior outside hitter Andrew Pink, in leading the Rutgers offense. The Scarlet Raiders are the second seed in the EIVA tournament and advance to the Semifinals to meet third-seed Juniata, ranked No. 1 in Division III.
Juniata (18-6) defeated Springfield (7-16) for the third time this season with a 3-1 home court victory and sets up the third meeting of the year with Rutgers-Newark in the EIVA semifinals. The Scarlet Raiders won both of the previous meetings (3-2 on the road and 3-1 at home) but expect a tough match from the Eagles.
In the Midwest, No. 9 Ohio State (21-8) registered a 3-0 victory over Quincy (7-18) and earned the right to host the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Semifinals. For the match, Ohio State hit .308 to Quincy's .110. OSU had a 44-38 advantage in kills while Quincy produced four ace serves to three for the Buckeyes. The Hawks gave up 11 service errors to eight for OSU. Defensively, Ohio State had a 31-26 margin in digs. At the net, OSU produced a 19.5 to four advantage in blocks. The Buckeyes will meet No. 13 Lewis in the second of two semifinal matches held in Columbus on April 30.
Defending National Champion Lewis kept its title defense alive with a 3-1 upset win over fourth-seed IPFW in Fort Wayne. The Flyers (17-13) were led by 22 kills from senior opposite hitter Fabiano Barretto. The Mastodons (14-11) were led by Matt Zbyszewski's 20 kills. Lewis advances to the MIVA semifinals for the ninth consecutive year.
The MIVA's second-seed Ball State (21-8) won a close fought three-game match against Findlay (15-16) in which the Oilers registered more kills (53 vs. 51) than the Cardinals. Even though Findlay had more kills, it couldn't overcome the more efficient Ball State squad, ranked No. 11 in the latest USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Coaches Top 15 poll. The Cardinals will take on Loyola University Chicago in the first of the two MIVA Semifinal matches.
No. 12 Loyola University Chicago (20-7) was lead by outside hitters Mike Alesch and Scott Greene, who had 14 and 13 kills, respectively, to lead the Ramblers to a 3-0 win over Mercyhurst (12-14). It is the fourth consecutive season that Loyola has advanced to the MIVA Semifinals.
Out in the West, No. 1 Brigham Young (25-4) needed an hour and 22 minutes to upend No. 8 UC Irvine (14-18) and secure the right to host the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Semifinals, which begin on April 29. The Cougars outhit (.443 to .219) and out-blocked (12.0 to 3.5) the young Anteaters in advancing to meet No. 4 Pepperdine, the only team to register more than one victory (2) against the Cougars this season.
Senior outside hitter Fred Winters played his last home match for Pepperdine (19-8) and scored 28 points (18 kills, six aces, and four blocks) in a 3-0 victory over Cal State Northridge (19-11). The Waves registered as season high 11 aces in the match against the Matadors.
No. 2 Long Beach State (26-5) opened up its part of the MPSF playoffs with a 3-0 sweep over UC Santa Barbara (14-16). Scott Touzinsky led the 49ers with a match-high 21 kills, while Jeff Wootton added 16 kills, and Robert Tarr with 13 kills. Tyler Hildebrand notched his third double-double of the season with a match-best 51 assists and a career-high 11 digs. Long Beach is next matched up against UCLA in the MPSF semifinals.
No. 3 UCLA (24-5) won its fourth match in a row, a 3-0 victory over Hawaii (17-12), to advance to Provo, UT for the MPSF semifinals. The Bruin defense held the Warriors to just 39 kills and a hitting efficiency of .185. The UCLA offense hit with a .314 efficiency for the match and got 11 kills apiece from Steve Klosterman and senior Chris Pena.
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