Hawai’i smashes Penn State in fifth game to reach NCAA semifinals

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the first fifth game in NCAA Tournament play-in match history, Hawai’i delivered in dominant fashion.

Hawai’i had zero attack errors and held Penn State to negative attack percentage in the decisive game as they beat the Nittany Lions 23-25, 27-25, 17-25, 25-14, 15-4 on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.

Outside attacker Brett Rosenmeir led Hawai’i with three kills in the fifth game and finished the match with 13 kills while hitting .409. In addition, Rosenmeir had a combined five kills in the final two games to help the Rainbow Warriors hit more than .450 in the fourth and fifth game.

Along with Rosenmeir, All-American opposite Stijn van Tilburg had a match-high 20 kills. The 2017 recipient of the Bryan Ivie Award also had six blocks, including a solo block in the fifth game.


Hawai’i out-blocked Penn State 17.5 to 11 with freshman middle attacker Patrick Gasman having a match-high seven blocks.

Penn State all-conference opposite Calvin Mende in the loss had a team-high 18 kills, while middle attacker Kevin Gear added 10 kills.

The Rainbow Warriors besides out-hitting the EIVA champion Nittany Lions .276 to .143 contained all-conference outside attacker Chris Nugent to eight kills and negative-.061 attack percentage.

Hawai’i rallied from a one-game deficit and held Penn State to a negative attack percentage for the majority of the fourth game. The Rainbow Warriors led by as many as 11 points, including having a 9-2 run at the end of the game, to force a decisive fifth game.

Penn State in the third game trailed 9-8 before going on a 3-0 run to take a lead it would not relinquish and closed out the game on a 6-1 run.

Hawai’i overcame a 23-20 game-two deficit and fought a game-point to force overtime. In addition, the Rainbow Warriors overcame another game-point in the overtime before winning the game on two consecutive Nittany Lions’ attack errors.

Mende in the opening game led all players with seven kills to help the Nttany Lions take a one-game lead.

This is the first NCAA Tournament win for the Rainbow Warriors since 2002. With this victory, Hawai’i will advance to play the No. 1 seed Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.