March 21, 2015
STATE COLLEGE Pa. – The No. 11 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team traveled to fellow Big Ten institution Penn State University Saturday night to take on the No. 10 Nittany Lions. A five-set scuffle ensued, ultimately resulting in a 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9 victory for Penn State (10-9). The Buckeyes now sit at 16-6 on the season after splitting their season series against PSU.
After racking up 11 blocks in a three-set contest Friday night at Saint Francis, the Buckeye block party continued into Happy Valley. Ohio State registered 14 tea m blocks, paced by Driss Guessous and his seven block assists. Marco Grasso wasn’t far behind, responsible for six blocks (1s, 5a). Gabriel Domecus put forth a team-high 12 digs in the defensive backcourt.
Michael Henchy performed as Ohio State’s top offensive asset, racking up 25.5 points. The senior captain eliminated 18 kills on 40 attempts with six errors (.300). He inflicted considerable damaged from the service stripe as well, scorching five aces on the night. Miles Johnson also reached double-digit kills, attacking a shade less than .300 (.292).
As most five-setters go, the competition inside Rec Hall was tight throughout. The first two sets alone witnessed 27 tied scores and there were 41 stalemates total in the match.
A statistically-dominated opening set from Ohio State did not result in a controlling final tally, however. While the Buckeyes attacked .417 and held Penn State to a .000 clip, nine OSU service errors kept the set in limbo as late as 22-22. Three straight Nittany Lion attack errors followed though, and Ohio State was awarded a 25-22 triumph.
Neither squad could muster a lead of more than two points in set number two until the very last point when Aaron Russell’s kill gave Penn State a 25-22 winner. The third set was back-and-forth as well, starting with a 4-1 burst from Ohio State out of the gates. The Nittany Lions countered by snaring 12 of the next 18 points to jump ahead 13-10. Ohio State would pull within a lone tally a 15-14, but never regain the edge as PSU took it 25-20.
Four of Henchy’s five aces came in the fourth frame as part of his nine points in the set. He carried the Buckeyes to a fifth set by adding five kills to the quartet of aces. A solid effort in the blocking game (three stuffs) was to key to Ohio State’s 25-22 victory, too. Henchy would drive home the final nail though, terminating a set from Grasso for the 25th point.
Russell proved to be the decisive fifth set’s brightest star, finishing off six of seven errorless swings for kills. Ohio State’s offense was in a groove hitting .389, but it was no match for the Lions’ .833 (10-0-12) rate. Penn State led 8-6 as the team’s swapped ends of the court and slowly pulled away to a 15-9 clincher.
The Scarlet & Gray is back at it again next Saturday (March 28), playing host to Erskine University at 7 p.m.