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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Menís volleyball Final Four


USA TODAY

Thursday's semifinals

at Stanford, Calif.

No. 2 Cal State-Northridge (23-9)

vs. No. 3 Penn State (23-7)

Time/TV: 9 p.m. ET/ESPN2

Coaches: CSN - Jeff Campbell (13th year with Matadors). PSU - Mark Pavlik (16th year with Nittany Lions).

Championship pedigree: CSN - none (runner-up in 1993). PSU - two (1994 and 2008).

Key players: CSN - MB Jacek Ratajczak, Sr. (fourth in nation with .460 hitting percentage; MB Kevin McKniff, Sr. (third in nation with .480); S Matt Stork, So. (seventh in nation at 13.28 assists a game). PSU - MH Max Lipsitz, Sr. (leads nation with .526); S Edgardo Goas, So. (fourth in nation at 13.75 assists a game); L Dennis Del Valle, Jr. (owns school's season and career records for digs, third in nation this year in digs a game).

Quick sets: In only other NCAA tournament appearance, Northridge swept Penn State in 1993 semifinals. Campbell restarted Matadors program from scratch after it was briefly eliminated for budget reasons in 1997. Ratajczak, a native of Poland who moved to the USA in 2003, stands 7-2. Penn State was swept by Matadors last month in Northridge in regular-season meeting. Nittany Lions making 12th consecutive appearance in national semifinals. They've been in tournament 25 times overall, matching UCLA's record. The Bruins have a record 19 titles but have missed tournament since 2006.

No. 1 Stanford (22-6)

vs. No. 4 Ohio State (22-7)

Time/TV: 11 p.m. ET/ESPNU

Coaches: Stanford - John Kosty (fourth year with Cardinal); OSU - Pete Hanson (24th year with Buckeyes).

Championship pedigree: Stanford - 1 (1997). OSU - none (runner-up twice, 1977 and 2000).

Key players: Stanford - S Kawika Shoji, Sr. (third in nation with 13.78 assists a game); OH Brad Lawson, So. (leads team with .376 hit), fourth in nation with 4.84 kills a game); Opp. Evan Romero, Sr. (12th in nation with 4.60 kills a game). OSU - S Steven Kehoe, Jr., (fifth in nation with 13.49 assists a game) RH Shawn Sangrey, So. (seventh in nation with 4.75 kills a game); OH John Klanac, Jr. (second on team with 4.00 kills a game).

Quick sets: Kosty was 3-25 in first season at Stanford in 2007. Stanford making first appearance since 1997 run to title. No host school has won Division I men's volleyball title since UCLA in 1996. UCLA has done it nine times and San Diego State once (1973). Ohio State making third consecutive tournament trip and 17th overall. But Buckeyes have only seven wins in those appearances. OSU enters on 12-match winning streak, longest active in Div. I. Ohio State has lost last eight meetings with Stanford, the last in 2009.

- Winners meet Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for national title.

Compiled by Craig Bennett