Jan. 8, 2016
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Miles Johnson and Nicolas Szerszen each chipped in 13.5 points as the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (2-2) trounced No. 12 Southern California (0-2) in the third of four Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge match-ups hosted by Penn State. Johnson converted 13 of 15 attack attempts for kills, operating at an .867 hitting level with no attacking errors (13-0-15). Szerszen scored on 10 kills, two service aces and two blocks (one solo).
The aforementioned Buckeye tandem combined for eight of the team’s 25 digs as well. Alex Judkins, making his second career start, accumulated a match-high six digs to go along with three kills, two block assists and an ace. Ohio State dominated the stat sheet, posting a .474 hitting efficiency while holding the Trojans to a dismal .070 attacking rate. The Buckeyes racked up 12 more digs, 10 more kills, six more aces and five more blocks than USC could muster. The statistical imbalances were reflected in the scoring margin as well with Ohio State out-producing the Trojans by a combined 29 points on the night (25-11, 25-20, 25-15).
Johnson unleashed a flurry of six kills in the opening set, finding the hardware on all six swings. Driss Guessous also had it going on early and often. The Pasadena, Calif., product found the hardwood for two kills and two aces. Southern Cal kept it close through 10 points, trailing 6-4, before the Buckeyes went into overdrive and cruised to a 25-11 triumph by going on a 19-7 run.
The scoreboard read 5-all 10 points into set number two and remained close throughout. Ohio State slowly separated, however, and seized the second stanza, 25-20. The third set started just as the second ended, with a Szerszen kill. His put-away to begin the third gave the Buckeyes an edge it would own for the remainder. Leading 7-4, Ohio State ripped off six straight to dig a deep Trojan hole. Szerszen later dropped in the final shovel-full of dirt to bury USC, 25-15, on a match-clinching kill.
St. John Arena is the spot to be next weekend as the Buckeyes play host to George Mason (Jan. 15) and Erskine (Jan. 16). Both matches are slated for 7 p.m. first serves.