Penn State Men’s Volleyball Finishes West Coast Road Trip With Battle of the Bigs | Penn State Volleyball Men’s News

After taking hard-fought consecutive losses to begin its West Coast road trip, No. 4 Penn State is looking to bounce back Friday night with its opening game in the Battle of the Bigs against UC Santa Barbara.

The Nittany Lions lost 3-1 against No. 2 UCLA last Saturday, where the offense was outclassed and lost the kill tie 53-45. Penn State also saw its worst batting rate of the season in this game, with a .155.

However, the blue and white defense, led by red shirt senior libero Will Bantle and senior opponent Cal Fisher, showed great signs of strength throughout the game, recording a total of 51 digs as they calculated 34 draws and 16 total lead changes.

Bantle led the Nittany Lions with a season high of 15 digs, bringing him to a total of 39 digs so far this season.

Fisher was also able to play on both sides of the field, taking on 16 kills against the Bruins, taking him to 76 total kills for the season on top of 11 digs.

Looking at UC Santa Barbara, it works with a 2-3 overall record of the season coming off a 3-2 set win against then No. 4 Peperdine.

Despite the win, the Gauchos had a shaky offensive performance against Pepperdine last Friday, losing the 59-43 kill tie and hitting just .238.

Freshman opposing batter Haotian Xia made his mark on the Gauchos, leading the team with 15 kills, while freshman setter Patrick Paragas shone as the main playmaker, with 37 of UC Santa Barbara’s 41 total assists.

Like the Nittany Lions, UC Santa Barbara showed a strong defensive presence, with a total of 28 block assists to go along with 32 digs.

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After suffering heavy back-to-back losses against now-No. 10 USC and No. 2 UCLA, Penn State…

Freshman center blocker Donovan Todorov and freshman winger Dayne Chalmers helped anchor the Gauchos’ defenses. Todorov contributed nine block assists, with Chalmers chipping in 11 digs.

After Friday night’s game, the Blues and Whites will face No. 3 Long Beach State at the end of back-to-back games.

The Elbees are coming off a 3-0 set win against then-No. 9 Loyola Chicago last Saturday night.

Long Beach State showed with a dominant offensive performance, with 41 kills on a .515 batting rate, while going nearly clear with only six total errors.

Freshman outside hitter Alex Nikolov and red shirt sophomore Aidan Knipe served as the main operators for the Long Beach attack, with Nikolov racking up 12 kills and Knipe dishing out 35 assists.

The defense of the Nittany Lions faces an exciting challenge against a powerful attack like Long Beach.

The Elbee’s defense, on the other hand, showed why Long Beach is now the country’s current No. 3 team.

With a team total of 25 digs and six blocks, Red Shirt junior outside hitter Spencer helped Olivier anchor a defense that allowed just two total lead changes and six ties against Loyola Chicago.

With two big matchups this weekend for the Nittany Lions, they will aim to finish their West Coast road trip on a high note.

One of the most important keys for the Nittany Lions is to make their attack play out like the first four games of the season.

After an all-around season-worst offensive performance against UCLA, winning the kill battle and bringing their strike rate back to the .300’s can be a recipe for success, especially against a defense like the Elbee’s.

With all three of these teams playing strong to start the season, the Battle of the Bigs would provide tremendous entertainment value for fans.

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