Simon Gallas had a career-high 30 kills—the fourth most kills in a match by a Trojan in the rally scoring era—to lead the No. 12 USC men’s volleyball team to a 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25- 16 angry at Penn State No. 3 on Friday (Jan. 21) on opening night of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.
USC improved to 5-0 in 2022. Having already matched all of their wins from last season (5), the Trojans are off to their best start since the 2015 roster won its first 7 games.
Penn State suffered its first loss of 2022 by falling to 4-1.
USC returns to action on Saturday (Jan. 22) at 5:00 PM PT in the Pauley Pavilion to take on No. 11 Ohio State (3-1) on the second night of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. Admission is free and open to the public. The Buckeyes fell on Friday to host No. 2 UCLA in 5 sets. The Penn State-UCLA game follows Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT.
The only Trojans with more kills than Gallas in a match during the rally scoring era, which began in 2001, were record holder Brook Billings (36 vs. Pacific in 2002), Lucas Yoder (33 vs. Penn State in 2017), and Billy Fauntleroy (31 vs Grand Canyon in 2020).
Gallas hit .583 in the game (with only 2 errors in 48 attempts) and he added 6 digs and 2 blocks. teammate Sam Kobrine, a graduate transfer from UCLA who played at Pauley Pavilion for the first time since his Bruin days, had 11 kills, 5 digs and 2 aces. Lucas Frassrand had a match best 4 blocks along with 4 kills and 4 digs, Chris Hall had a team-best 9 digs to go with 47 assists, 3 blocks, 2 kills and an ace, Brandon Browning had 5 murders and 5 digs, Liam Schroeder had 5 kills, 3 blocks and 2 aces and Cole Paxson 7 digs.
Before Penn State, Cal Fisher had 20 kills and 10 digs, Brett Wildman had 11 kills and 6 digs, Cole Bogner had 8 digs and 3 blocks to go with 44 assists and Sam Marsh had 8 kills as he hit .500.
USC hit .402 in the game against Penn State’s .278. The Trojans had more blocks (7.0 to 4.0), digs (40 to 37), and aces (6 to 5).
The first set remained tight all the way until USC scored the last 3 points on consecutive kills by Schroeder and Gallas and then a mistake by Penn State (the Trojans hit .391 in the set against PSU’s .208).
The Trojans trailed 5-2 early in the second set, but tied it at 10-10 and then used a Frassrand kill, followed by back-to-back comboblocks by Frassrand and Hall to go up 15-13. standing, only to see the Nittany Lions walk away the next 3 points to retake the lead at 16-15. The set then rocked until a PSU setup error followed by a Gallas kill gave USC the final 2 points, which hit .400 in the set by 3 blocks.
In the third set, Troy again trailed 5-2, but shortly after he walked away 3 straight points to advance 10-9, only to see Penn State walk away 6 of the next 7 points to take a lead from 15-11 to build. USC, fed by aces from Kobrine and Schroeder, then crawled back to 16-15 but couldn’t get any closer despite hitting .400 in the set and serving 4 aces when the Nittany Lions hit .519.
USC scored the first 2 points of the fourth set to lift the lead to 5-1, but Penn State tied the score at 6-6, then the Trojans scored 6 of 7 points shortly after to take an insurmountable 14-9 build a head start. The Trojans hit .414 in the set against PSU’s .097.