Ezeonu dominant for No. 5 Penn State in season-opening sweep of No. 6 BYU

Photo courtesy of Penn State athletics

Coach Mark Pavlik made a point to list middle attacker Toby Ezeonu on his EIVA preseason ballot as one of Penn State’s two players to watch this season.

It appeared somewhat unconventional. The defending EIVA champions returned all of its starters, had three players named Preseason All-Americans and Ezeonu played in less than half of the teams matches last season.

The sophomore in the season opener, though, showed exactly why he warranted such high preseason praise from Pavlik.

Ezeonu finished with both a match-high six blocks and 10 kills on a .467 attack percentage as No. 5 Penn State swept No. 6 BYU 25-14, 25-18, 25-19 on Thursday in University Park, Pennsylvania.


Penn State out-hit BYU .365 to .130 to open the two-match non-conference series, including having a match-best .500 attack percentage in the first game.

Along with Ezeonu, Penn State had two other players with more than five kills. Preseason All-American outside attacker Brett Wildman had nine kills, while Preseason All-American opposite Cal Fisher added eight kills on a .429 attack percentage.

The Nittany Lions also finished with nine aces – eight more aces than the Cougars.

Wildman led all players with three aces. Both outside attacker Michal Kowal and Fisher, the 2021 National Server of the Year added two aces.

BYU Preseason All-American outside attacker Davide Gardini in the loss had a team-high nine kills. Gardini is the only starter returning from last year’s team that won the MPSF championship and reached the NCAA Tournament finals.

This sweep ends Penn State’s 10-match losing streak to BYU that dated back to 2003.

The two teams will have an off day before returning to the court to close out their season-opening series on Saturday.