Volleyball men even breaks in Westwood tournament

The Trojans during a fall tournament match where they lost two out of three games over the weekend. (Gina Nguyen | Daily Trojan)

No. 12 men’s volleyball ended the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge tournament break even with a big win against No. 3 Penn State and their first loss of the season against No. 11 Ohio State.

USC entered the tournament undefeated, beating Princeton and Erskine at Galen Center before heading to Westwood to face Penn Friday. After their win over Erskine, the Trojans officially had their best start since 2015.

USC handed the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season, winning in four sets (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25-16). The Trojans dominated the stats with 7 team blocks to Penn’s 4 and 57 kills to Penn’s 47.

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Simon Gallas led the team with 30 kills and 31 points, and graduate outside hitter Sam Kobrine added 11 kills and 13.5 points. Gallas continued his hot start to the season and now led the team with 92 kills in just 6 games.

USC won one of four sets against the Buckeyes (24-26, 25-16, 18-25, 21-25). Ohio State entered the game, taking its first loss of the season against No. 2 UCLA on Friday.

Both squads struck at a slow pace – the Buckeyes had a 20% percentage, while the Trojans had 18%, well below their 40% and 56% in their previous two games.

After losing the first set by 2 points, USC recorded a statement win in the second set and pulled back to a 5-2 lead after scoring 3 points. A score 5 points later in the set put the Trojans at 20-12 and helped even the scoreboard at 1-1.

Ohio State would turn the tables in the third set and score multiple runs to finish with a 7-point lead in the fourth set.

The Buckeyes pulled out early into what would be the final set and led 5-1 before the Trojans would rally to tie the game 7-7 a few games later. The two teams would continue to trade scoring runs throughout the set, but USC would never see the lead as the Buckeyes ended up walking away with it.

Big blocks by Ohio State sophomore winger Jacob Pasteur and senior winger Martin Lallemand added momentum to the Buckeyes to close out the game.

Unlike their matchup against Penn, USC accounted for 35 kills to Ohio’s 55, but stayed close in terms of hit rate – 18.3% to 20.3%. As expected, the Buckeyes also dominated the statsheet, with players leading the way in kills, hit rate, digs, assists, blocks, and points.

For the Trojans, Gallas and senior outside hitter Brandon Browning both racked up 13 points, with 11 and 12 kills respectively. Junior center blocker Lucas Frassrand led in the batting percentage of 40% with 4 kills and 6 points in the game.

USC will face UC Irvine in back-to-back games, both at home and away on Wednesday and Friday.

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