Men’s volleyball falls short in winning Hall of Fame tourney

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    By Michael Bingham

    BYU was good, but not good enough last weekend to win the Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Tournament in Springfield, Mass.

    The BYU men?s volleyball team won its first five games of the tournament, blitzing Ball State in an hour and fifteen minutes, and were well on their way to a tournament sweep when the wheels came off against Penn State.

    The No. 4 Cougars crushed Ball State in three games, and the mold appeared to be the same Saturday night as BYU took on Penn State in the championship match.

    The Cougars jumped out early to win Games 1 and 2 (30-20, 30-23), but with one game standing in the way of the Cougars? second tournament championship this season, BYU was unable to close Penn State out, losing three games in a row (21-30, 25-30, 10-15) and falling to 7-4 overall.

    ?Penn State just got better, and we let them do it,? BYU head coach Tom Peterson said. ?We”re not good enough yet to play a full match all the way through.?

    This was the second meeting between Penn State and BYU. The first came at the Outrigger Invitational, where Penn State was unable to stop the Cougar rally after taking a 2-0 lead. BYU won the next three games to win the match and went on to win the tournament.

    Physically, BYU is as talented as any team on the court, but in order for the Cougars to improve enough to be considered one of the top contenders for the national title, they need to eliminate mental errors.

    ?It”s going to be up to how good of people we are underneath, mentally and not physically,? Peterson said. ?The ultimate success of this team is not going to boil down to the win and loss record but to how good we are at the end of the season for the playoffs. It will be determined by our character and if we can make the necessary changes.?

    Several Cougars played solid during the two-day tournament.

    Against Penn State, opposite Casey Patterson was on fire, putting down career-high 20 kills. Outside hitter Victor Batista struck at will both nights, hitting a scorching .750 hitting percentage against Ball State and contributing 20 kills in the loss to the Nittany Lions. Middle blockers Russell Holmes and Michael Burke each recorded five blocks against the Nittany Lions.

    In post-tournament honors, Burke and Patterson were named to the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team.

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