March 19, 2016
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The No. 4 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (18-3) captured its second straight road five-setter and 10th consecutive victory overall by overpowering No. 6 Penn State (12-6), 15-6, in the final frame. Miles Johnson racked up 25 points on 23 kills, two block assists and a solo stuff.
Johnson attacked .476 (23-3-42) on the night, pacing the Buckeye offensive unit. Nicolas Szerszen served as his right-hand man offensively, putting away 16 kills at a .300 clip. The reigning National Player of the Week chipped in 12 digs as well to record a double-double. Gabriel Domecus finished right behind Szerszen (11 digs) while Alex Judkins dug up 10 balls. Judkins also contributed in the serving game, ripping three aces. Christy Blough totaled 50 assists, sending nine in the direction of Driss Guessous who bounced nine kills on 15 swings with just one error (.533).
Large leads were a rarity Saturday night in State College. The score sat tied 41 times with 17 lead changes overall. None were tighter than set number one though, consisting of 17 tied tallies and seven lead swaps.
A lopsided attacking percentage advantage (.419-to-.071) for Ohio State was off-set by nine service blunders. The biggest gap of the entire set was three points and never exceeded a pair after a Guessous kill closed the OSU deficit to 17-15. Back-to-back Nittany Lion errors followed to even the score at 17-all. Penn State would later fend off five Ohio State set-point opportunities before the Buckeyes ultimately closed it out on their sixth attempt thanks to a Blake Leeson terminating an overpass to end the frame, 30-28.
Penn State countered by taking the first three tallies of set number two. The next 44 points were split evenly, resulting in a 25-22 winner for the Nittany Lions.
Johnson kept bringing it in Set 3, bouncing six kills on 10 attempts with one error. His lone attacking gaffe trimmed Penn State’s deficit to 16-15 midway through the period. From there, Ohio State went on a set-ending 9-4 spurt, however, including Johnson’s sixth kill serving as the final dagger at 25-19.
Set 4 brought with it another eight even scores and three lead changes; a slugfest knotted as late as 17-17. Penn State then strung together six straight and built an insurmountable lead in an eventual 25-21 match equalizer.
The Nittany Lions fell victim to a final frame self-destruction, committing eight errors (six attacking, two service) allowing Ohio State to roll 15-6. Johnson connected on three kills and both Peter Edwards and Judkins registered a pair of service aces apiece to pile on the PSU miscues. The Buckeyes got up early and never looked back in cruising to the 15-6 triumph.
First place in the MIVA standings is on the line next Friday (March 25) when Ohio State ventures to Muncie, Ind., for a tilt with Ball State. The Buckeyes will also take on IPFW Saturday evening (March 26).