LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Nicolas Szerszen bounced seven of his 11 attack attempts for kills in the fourth set, sealing the deal in No. 3 Ohio State's four-set victory over No. 13 Southern California (3-3). Jake Hanes acted as the final nail though, delivering back-to-back aces to close the door for good at 25-21 in the fourth (26-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21).
The Buckeyes (3-1) registered 10 aces in total, paced by Szerszen's three service snipes. His 17 kills also represented a team high. Martin Lallemand cracked double-digit kills, too, good for 11 terminations at a .333 attacking clip. Redshirt juniors Aaron Samarin and Blake Leeson led the squad defensively with seven digs and five blocks, respectively.
SET 1: Sanil Thomas spread the ball around to five different hitters in the opening frame, distributing 11 assists in steering Ohio State to a .409 team hitting percentage. The Buckeyes were able to break away late in the set, going on an 11-4 run to end it with a final ledger of 25-16.
SET 2: Szerszen stepped to the baseline to start set number two, staying there until Ohio State jumped out to a 4-0 edge. The Buckeyes would never relinquish that lead as Leeson did the heavy lifting with a half dozen points (4 K, 1 BS, 2 BA) in the 25-20 winner.
SET 3: The next set was a mirror image of the previous. This time it was the Trojans going ahead immediately and never looking back in a 25-20 triumph of their own.
SET 4: USC remained in control midway through the fourth, owners of a 14-10 advantage. That's when a Hanes kill ignited the Buckeye burst which included taking 15 of the next 22 rallies. Szerszen connected on four kills during the set's second half before handing it off to Hanes for the final two tallies.
The AVCA Showcase (a.k.a. the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge) continues on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the match-ups are flip-flopped. Ohio State will face the host and second-ranked Bruins of UCLA at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT while USC and Penn State compete in the other contest.