#9 Penn State Uses Comebacks to Fend Off #14 USC in Five-Set Win

  0 Derek Johnson | January 20th, 2018 | College - Men's Indoor, EIVA, MPSF, News


  • #9 Penn State Def. #14 USC 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 19-25, 17-15)
  • #9 Penn State 3-1; #14 USC 3-4
  • AVCA Showcase/Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge
  • Los Angeles, California (Pauley Pavillion)
  • Box score

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – In the first of two matches on the day in the AVCA Showcase (also the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge), #9 Penn State won a five-set battle with #14 USC. It was the Nittany Lions’ first ranked win of 2018 and they were pushed to the limit to acquire it. For USC, it’s their fourth consecutive loss.

Both offenses were rolling, as Penn State hit .285 compared to USC’s .297. There was a difference though as the Nittany Lions let it rip more and had more errors, yet countered it with 20 more kills. USC almost made up for it with a 20.5 to nine advantage in blocks, but with everything being so even (both teams scored the same amount of points) in the match it was Penn State finding a way to win.

That theme of finding a way to win was apparent in sets number three and five, as the Nittany Lions fought off seven set points combined in the two sets yet won both.

The opening set saw a back-and-forth affair with 13 ties and a pair of lead changes. That was apparent to a 19-19 tie in the game until Ryan Moss (14 kills, .300, 7 digs, 3 blocks, 2 aces) started a USC spurt with a kill. Following another Trojans’ point, Gianluca Grasso (10 kills, .200, 6 blocks, 5 digs) added to it with an ace, as the three-point cushion was tightened by Penn State, but never tied with the Trojans taking the first 25-23.

Trailing 1-0, Penn State used a more vanilla second set which they led mostly by a small lead to even things 1-1. They continued their response in the third too, although it was a lot tighter. In fact, if anything it was USC’s set to lose as they led 24-20. A 4-0 Nittany Lions’ run was stamped with a Jalen Penrose (15 kills, .250, 4 blocks) and Calvin Mende (15 kills, .194, 6 digs) block. Moss worked the score back to USC’s favor at 25-24 and would tie it at 26 after Penn State went in front, but he couldn’t bring the team all the way back as Penrose scored a kill and a block assist – along with Luke Braswell (60 assists, 6 digs, 4 blocks) – to end the third, 28-26.

That wouldn’t be the last laugh from USC, who continued to ride Jack Wyett (20 kills, .341, 5 digs, 5 blocks) to a 25-19 fourth set victory. They carried the momentum into the fifth too and led 4-2 after a Sam Lewis (11 blocks, 4 kills, .375) block.

The fifth was its own story though, as Aidan Albrecht‘s ace capped a 7-3 run to switch the Nittany Lions in front, 9-7. A 4-0 Trojans’ run that included a pair of Kyle Gear (6 blocks, 1 kill) block assists again changed the advantage to USC at 11-9. That helped them take a match point chance at 14-13, but Grasso’s serve error tied the match. Wyett’s kill gave the Trojans one more chance at the win but Braswell found Penrose to even things at 15 and spark three unanswered that ended with an Albrecht (18 kills, .412, 6 digs, 3 aces) kill.

Matthew McClaren (15 kills, .286, 6 digs) for Penn State and Chris Hall (43 assists, 4 blocks, 3 digs) also posted high totals in the match for their squads.

Penn State now gets about a week off to prepare for another ranked match. This time, if we’re sticking with the Big Ten theme, will be a clash of conference foes with Penn State and Ohio State – although in reality it’s EIVA vs. MIVA. USC also has a tough opponent ahead as they meet Long Beach State on the road a week from today.

Press Releases:

Courtesy of Penn State:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – No. 9 Penn State used two rallies Saturday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion to down No. 13 USC 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 17-15) in the final match of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge for the Nittany Lions.

Trailing 23-18 late in the third set off a Sam Lewis kill for the Trojans, with the match tied 1-1, Penn State began its climb.

The Nittany Lions used a kill from Aidan Albrecht paired with a kill from Calvin Mende to get to within three of USC, trailing 23-20.

Both teams traded errors, Penn State an attack error, USC a service error to push the score to 24-21 in favor of Southern Cal.

The next two Blue & White points would come through Trojan errors as Ryan Moss and Jack Wyett each committed an attack error to inch the Lions closer to the lead. The errors led to a timeout by USC head coach Jeff Nygaard.

Out of the break, a third-straight Trojan error knotted the set at 24-24 with all the momentum on Penn State’s side.

USC and Penn State traded a few points before the Nittany Lions pieced together two straight to give the Lions the set 28-26 and a lead 2-1 heading into the third off the swings of Jalen Penrose and an attack error by USC’s Gianluca Grasso.

Southern Cal took set four convincingly, downing Penn State 25-19 forcing a fifth set.

Penn State played USC close in the fifth, never trailing by more than two points at any time in the set. Tied 14-14, Penn State closed out the Trojans with kills from Penrose and Albrecht to cap the match 3-2 and move to 3-1 on the season.

With the win, Penn State moves to 10-18 all-time vs. Southern Cal.

Four Nittany Lions finished with double-digit kills including Albrecht (18), Matthew McLaren (15), Mende (15) and Penrose (15).

Braswell Recorded 60-assists, while also tying for the team lead in digs at six – McLaren, Albrecht, Mende, Clemens also had six digs.

Penn State will hit the road once again as the Nittany Lions head to Columbus, Ohio to face the defending NCAA Champion Buckeyes Jan. 28th at 2 p.m. ET in St. John Arena.

Courtesy of USC:

The No. 9-ranked Penn State men’s volleyball team outlasted No. 13 USC, 23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 19-25, 17-15, on Saturday (Jan. 20) at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on the second day of the AVCA Showcase.

In the tourney’s later match on Saturday, the host No. 2 Bruins meet No. 3 Ohio State.

USC lost its fourth straight match to fall to 3-4, while Penn State improved to 3-1.  The Trojans and Nittany Lions both fell in 4 sets the AVCA Showcase’s first day on Thursday (Jan. 18), USC to Ohio State and Penn State to UCLA.

Jack Wyett had a match-best 20 kills (hitting .341) with 5 digs and 5 blocks for USC, while teammate Ryan Moss had 14 kills and 7 digs, Gianluca Grasso had 10 kills, 6 blocks, 5 digs and 2 aces, Sam Lewis had a match-high 11 blocks, Cole Paxson had 8 digs and Kyle Gear had 6 blocks off the bench.

For Penn State, Aidan Albrecht had 18 kills (hitting .412), 6 digs and 3 aces, while Matthew McLaren and Calvin Mende each had 15 kills and 6 digs and Jalen Penrose had 15 kills and 4 blocks.

USC hit .297 to PSU’s .285 and the Trojans had 20.5 blocks.

USC used a 3-point run to forge a 22-19 lead in the first set, all the margin it needed while posting 4 blocks.  Penn State broke a 10-10 tie in the second set by scoring 4 of the next 5 points and the Trojans couldn’t catch up as the Nittany Lions hit .478.  USC held a 23-18 lead in the third set, but Penn State tied it at 24-24 and then won it in extra time while putting up 6 blocks in the set.  USC got off to a 5-0 start in the fourth set only to see the Nittany Lions tie it at 9-9, but the Trojans then scored 6 of the next 8 points to go up 15-11 and steadily pulled away while hitting .722 and getting 5.5 blocks.  In the fifth set, USC had a 13-11 lead but Penn State tied it at 13-13 before USC retook the lead at 15-14, however the Nittany Lions tallied the match’s final 3 points.

USC next travels to top-ranked Long Beach State next Saturday (Jan. 27) for a 7 p.m. non-conference match.

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