No. 4 UC Irvine hit .300 as a team and saw three players post double-digit kill efforts in an exhibition match against Benedictine on Saturday morning in Phoenix to move to 6-1 ahead of an evening match with Grand Canyon.
Meanwhile, No. 2 UCLA and No. 9 Penn State earned hard-fought five set wins in Los Angeles. The Bruins bested No. 7 Ohio State, while the Nittany Lions edged past No. 14 USC.
UCLA won two sets in extra points and used a strong blocking effort to close down the Buckeyes and earn head coach John Speraw his 300th victory. The Bruins put up 13.5 blocks and Christian Hessenauer posted a 19-kill, 13-dig double-double in the 25-18, 22-25, 27-25, 24-26, 16-14 victory.
Penn State also had to go to extra points to secure its five-set win over the Trojans, winning 23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 19-25, 17-15. PSU trailed 11-9 and 14-13 in the final stanza, but got kills from Jalen Penrose and Aidan Albrecht in a 3-0 run to close out the victory. USC put up 20.5 blocks in the match, including 11 by Sam Lewis.
- #9 Penn State Def. #14 USC 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 19-25, 17-15)
- Penn State moves to 3-1; USC falls to 3-4
- AVCA Showcase/Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge
- Los Angeles, California (Pauley Pavillion)
- Box score
- Penn State Recap / USC Recap
Key Statistics: USC outhit Penn State .297 to .285 and outdid the Nittany Lions 20-9 in blocks, but PSU made up the difference with 20 more kills (70-50).
Stat Leaders: Four Penn State players notched double-digit kill tallies led by redshirt senior outside Aidan Albrecht (18). Redshirt junior Matthew McLaren (15), redshirt junior opposite Jalen Penrose (15) and redshirt sophomore opposite Calvin Mende (15) followed. Albrecht hit at a .412 clip and added six digs and three aces. Redshirt sophomore setter Luke Braswell paced the team at the net with four blocks to go with his 60 assists and six digs.
Redshirt junior outside Jack Wyett led all hitters with 20 putaways, while junior outsides Ryan Moss (14) and Gianluca Grasso (10) also turned in double-digit efforts for the Trojans. Wyett hit at a .341 clip and added five digs and five blocks. Freshman middle Sam Lewis accounted for 11 of the team’s 20 stuffs. Grasso and Moss served up two aces each.
It Was Over When: After trailing 9-7 in Set 5, USC called timeout and rallied with six of the next eight points, including three PSU service errors and two Kyle Gear blocks. A McLaren kill and a block by Gear and Albrecht knotted the score at 13. A service error and a kill by Wyett gave USC two chances at the match at 14-13 and 15-14. In the end, kills by Penrose and Albrecht and a bad set by Grasso gave the Nittany Lions the victory.
- #4 UC Irvine def. Benedictine 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-17, 25-14)
- UC Irvine moves to 6-1; Benedictine falls to 2-1
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Box Score
Key Statistics: UC Irvine bested the Redhawks in blocks (9-2), kills (48-39) and hitting percentage (.300 to .098) in the victory. Benedictine outserved the Anteaters 5-0. After hitting .033 in the opening set, UCI rebounded to hit .300 or better in the final three sets, including a .522 effort in Set 2.
Stat Leaders: Redshirt freshman opposite Patrick Sohacki downed 16 kills and added three blocks to lead UC Irvine. Senior outside Reid Dominguez (12) and junior outside Grant Friedman (10) followed offensively. Dominguez hit at a team-high .436 clip and pulled up six digs. Redshirt freshman outside Austin Wilmot and senior middle Ben Sebastian each put up four blocks.
Senior middle Devin Hill tallied 13 kills and eight digs, while hitting .375. Senior outside Logan Adcock (7), sophomore outside Robert Henige (6) and freshman outside Treven Clizbe (6) followed. Henige hit at a .556 clip with just one error in nine swings, while Clizbe served up two aces.
It Was Over When: UC Irvine left little doubt in Set 4, opening the stanza with an 8-1 run, including three Dominquez kills and a trio of blocks. Benedictine narrowed the gap to five at 10-5, but the Anteaters surged ahead by 10 at 20-10 soon after as Dominquez notched three more kills and Sohacki tallied two kills and a block. The Redhawks would get no closer than nine the rest of the way as the teams traded points. A kill by Friedman capped the UCI victory.
- #2 UCLA Def. #7 Ohio State 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 27-25, 24-26, 16-14)
- UCLA 7-0; Ohio State 3-2
- Los Angeles, California
- Box score
- UCLA Recap / OSU Recap
Key Statistics: UCLA hit at a .238 clip and outdid the Buckeyes 57-51 in kills and 13.5 to 8.5 in blocks in the win. Ohio State committed 11 more errors (34-23), but outserved the Bruins 4-2.
Stat Leaders: Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer tallied a 19-kill, 13-dig double-double and added four blocks in the Bruin victory. Senior outside JT Hatch also added double-digit kills with 16 to go with nine digs and three blocks. Sophomore middle Daenan Gyimah tacked on nine kills and seven blocks while hitting at an errorless .500 clip (9-0-18).
Senior outside Nicolas Szerszen put down a match-high 21 kills and added 12 digs, while hitting .311 for the Buckeyes. Redshirt freshman opposite Jake Hanes followed with 18 kills and three aces. The next highest kill tally was five coming from redshirt junior middle Blake Leeson, who also chipped in four stuffs.
It Was Over When: The teams were level through 20 points in the decisive fifth set, with neither team leading by more than two. A service error and kills by Dylan Missry and Micah Ma’a put UCLA up 13-11, but Ohio State charged back with three straight points, including two Szerszen kills to earn a match-point try at 14-13. The Bruins called timeout and got a Hatch kill and Missry ace out of the break. The Buckeyes called timeout, but couldn’t stop a stuff by Oliver Martin and Hessenauer, which sealed the 16-14 UCLA win and the match.
"The block comes through!"
Christian Hessenauer and Oliver Martin's big block to seal @UCLAMVB's five-set win is the @OpusBank #12Best Moment. pic.twitter.com/1Ift1Re34g
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 21, 2018