no. 3 Men’s Volleyball Tops No. 13 Ohio State, 3-1

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The third-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball team extended its winning streak to 11 matches in a row and took down its traditional Big Ten rival Ohio State for a second-straight match in its 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-15) victory Sunday afternoon at Rec Hall.

The Nittany Lions (15-3) also remain perfect on their home court at 9-0 overall in their fourth-straight victory over the Buckeyes (9-9).

Penn State’s five hitters in the starting lineup each had at least seven kills in the match, led by Brett Wildman who had 17 at a .367 clip.

Toby Ezeonu was also in double digits with 11 kills and reached that mark very efficiently on 13 swings (.769). Cal Fishero also had 10 kills without an error with a .455 hitting percentage.

Sam Marsh was extremely effective from the service line with a career-best four service aces and several more serves putting Ohio State out of system. Several of his serves touched 70 miles per hour. He also had seven kills without an error.

Michael Valezni was also all over the court with eight kills, a .412 hitting percentage, and a team-high six digs.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Penn State’s serve gift the Buckeyes problems early in the match. Wildman and Marsh both had aces and Marsh’s serve produced an early three-point run as PSU sped ahead 9-3.

That early run proved all the Nittany Lions needed as they essentially traded side outs with Ohio State for the remainder of the set. Penn State’s side-out percentage was 85% in the first game and Penn State hit .519 in the frame with five kills from Wildman and four each from Valezni and Ezeonu to take the lead with a 25-20 set win.

The second set was a very close affair with both teams tied at 18 late in the frame. It was once again the duo of Wildman and Marsh from the service line that pulled the Nittany Lions in front. Wildman earned a side out kill then ripped an ace and forced an overpass that Cole Bogner scored a kill on to lead 21-18.

After Penn State’s next side out, Marsh stepped up to the line and ripped another 70-mile per hour serve for his third ace of the set and fourth of the match to put Penn State in prime position to close the set. The Nittany Lions did just that, winning the frame 25-21.

In the third game, Penn State’s home set winning streak ended at 26 in a row as Ohio State won the set 25-23. Penn State’s hitting percentage dipped to .250 in the frame and the Nittany Lions’ execution both offensively and defensively wasn’t as crisp.

Despite that, Penn State did battle its way back from a 21-17 deficit and tied the score 22-all. However, Ohio State had two kills in their final three points to take the set.

The Nittany Lions returned with a vengeance in the fourth set and sped out to a 7-1 advantage with three kills by Marsh, Fisher and Valenzi plus a Wildman ace.

Another four-point run thanks to three Wildman kills and a Fisher point put Penn State in the driver’s seat leading 16-7.

Penn State hit an absurd .789 (16-1-19) as a team in the fourth game and ran away with the fourth game 25-15 to win the match 3-1 and sweep the season series against the Buckeyes.

MIKE ANDERSON MAN OF THE MATCH
Sam Marsh was extremely effective from the service line in the first two sets with four aces. He also had seven kills, including the match-clinching point.

MATCH NOTES AND STATS

  • Penn State hit .474 with just nine errors as a team. Cole Bogner’s 46 assists are his second-highest total of the season (52 at Long Beach, Jan. 29).
  • Penn State had eight aces versus just three for Ohio State.
  • The Nittany Lions have won 27 or 28 sets at home this season.

NEXT UP

The Nittany Lions begin the second half of EIVA play with a road trip to Princeton Friday, March 18, and George Mason Sunday, March 20.

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