No. 3 men’s volleyball drops to No. 2 UCLA in four sets

THE ANGELS – The No. 3 Penn State men’s volleyball team got off to a hot start, but second-ranked UCLA came back to take the lead in the 3-1 defeat of the Nittany Lions (25-17, 26-28, 22-25 , 19-25) Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.

The Nittany Lions (2-2) faced another double-double effort from the senior Cal Fishero, which had 16 murders and 11 digs. Senior outside Brett Wildman stuck on 10 kills and nine digs.

Penn State had a bad night offensively as they hit just .155 as a team. UCLA hit .261 and was led by Ethan Champlin with 18 kills.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Penn State didn’t play its cleanest offensive set in the first game, taking advantage of a handful of mistakes by the Bruins, but the Nittany Lions amassed three separate three-point runs that proved important for Penn State to win the first set.

With a score of 7-7, the Nittany Lions scored three points in a row, followed by runs leading 16-11 and 21-14 later in the frame to extend the advantage and win the first set 25-17.

Penn State committed 11 offenses in the second set that left the Bruins holding the advantage for most of the set, but Penn State showed resilience on the road and came back to take the lead 22-21 on a Michal Kowal kill.

PSU was poised to win the second set with a 25-24 lead, but UCLA made the winning moves late in the frame to win the extra set 28-26 and put the game at 1-1.

Set three was another heavily contentious affair with the Nittany Lions leading until 20-19. However, as in the previous game, it was the Bruins who arrived too late to take away the winning points. UCLA finished the third set with a 6-2 run to win 25-22 and take a 2-1 lead in the game.

Penn State’s offense couldn’t find its groove to extend the game and force a fifth set, as they had seven kills and seven errors in the fourth game. UCLA held PSU between a 3-5 point lead for much of the set and led by a whopping eight on the first match point at 24-18.

Penn State continued to fight, stopping four match points for the Bruins, but the deficit was just a little too much and UCLA took the game with a 25-19 win to win in four sets.

NEXT ONE

Penn State continues its series of games in California in the Battle of the Bigs next weekend. The Nittany Lions travel to UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State from January 28-29.

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