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.
- 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.
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.