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No. 10 Men’s Volleyball Wins Sixth Straight, Drops No. 11 Ohio State

After an early-season swoon, Penn State men’s volleyball is back on track. The Nittany Lions earned their sixth straight victory, and fourth straight over a ranked opponent, defeating No. 11 Ohio State in five sets (22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9) on Saturday night in Rec Hall.

Aaron Russell powered the Penn State offense with match high 30 kills on .458 hitting for his second 30-kill performance of the year, while Jalen Penrose added a career-high 19 kills.

How It Happened

With the first set tied 6-6, Penn State took an early lead on an Ohio State foot fault to move ahead 7-6. The Buckeyes answered with a 5-3 run to take the lead, 11-10, but the Lions responded with a 5-2 stretch to reclaim the lead, 15-13. Ohio State would halt Penn State’s momentum, putting together another 5-3 run to knot the score, 18-18. After trading points, the score stood at 21-21 when Penn State committed three errors to give Ohio State set point, 24-22. A Penn State attack error sealed the deal, as the Buckeyes took set one, 25-22.

The beginning of the second set mirrored the first, as the score was tied 7-7 after back and forth action. This time it would be Penn State that struck first, using a 5-2 run to build a two point lead, 11-9. Ohio State fought back to tie the score 14-14, but a Penrose kill ignited another Nittany Lion run, moving ahead 18-16. The Buckeyes countered with a 4-1 stretch to take a one point lead, 20-19, but a 5-1 run featuring kills from Russell and Callaway gave the Lions their first set point, 24-21. After an Ohio State kill, Russell put down the final kill of the set to secure set two, 25-22, tying the match 1-1.

Penn State jumped out to a one-point lead in set three, 8-7, but Ohio State used a 3-2 stretch to tie it up, 10-10. Matt Seifert, Matt Callaway and Penrose responded in a big way, opening a 5-1 run with three consecutive kills to extend the lead to four, 15-11. The Buckeyes answered with a 5-3 run to remain within two, 18-16, but Penn State rallied with a 6-3 streak to claim set point, 24-19. After a service error, Russell put away another set-sealing kill to put away set three, 25-20, and move ahead 2-1.

After dropping a hard-fought fourth set 25-22, Penn State was looking to put away its fourth straight ranked opponent in the deciding fifth set. With the score tied a 3-3, Chris Nugent started a 3-0 run with two consecutive kills to lift the Nittany Lions ahead, 5-3. As they had all match, Ohio State rallied with two kills in between one from PSU to pull within one, 7-6. It would be the last time the Buckeyes sniffed the lead, as Penn State put together a 7-3 stretch, led by three kills from Russell, to arrive at match point, 14-9. Penrose put down a kill to close out the 15-9 win in the decisive fifth frame, securing the 3-2 win.

Player of the Game

Who else? Aaron Russell continues to put forth dominating performances week after week, this time securing his second 30-kill match of the season to go along with a match-high 14 digs for a double-double, as well as three blocks and two aces.

Match Notes

  • Penn State finished with 67 kills to the Buckeyes’ 53, but Ohio State’s hitting percentage (.320) topped Penn State’s (.313).
  • The Lions held the advantage in digs (48 vs. 30) and assists (65 vs. 51), but trailed the Buckeyes in aces (4 vs. 6) and blocks (6 vs. 14.5).
  • Redshirt junior Matt Seifert finished tied for first on the team with three blocks, and redshirt junior Taylor Hammond paced the team with a .313 hitting percentage, dishing out a career-high 61 assists and five digs.
  • For the first time this season, Penn State moves above .500 with a 10-9 record. Ohio State drops to 16-6.

What’s Next?

Penn State remains home next week, hosting Princeton Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m. before facing NJIT Saturday, March 28 at 4 p.m.

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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