STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The No. 1 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (23-2) came up a bit short in Happy Valley, falling to No. 13 Penn State (14-9) in five sets (25-21, 14-25, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12).
The defeat snaps a 20-match winning streak for Ohio State in true road matches. The Buckeyes hadn’t dropped a contest inside an opponent’s home gym since 2015.
Set 1: Eleven unforced errors, including eight from the service stripe, doomed Ohio State in set number one. After falling behind 3-0, the Buckeyes continuously shot themselves in the foot to thwart any kind of comeback completion. The scoreboard momentarily read 21-18 before a successful video review challenge by Penn State showed the Buckeye block did, indeed, touch a PSU attack soaring long. The scoring swap handed the NIttany Lions a five-point edge at 22-17, and they would ultimately close out the set, 25-21.
Set 2: A resounding response came from Ohio State in the second stanza to even the match, 1-1, heading to intermission. The Buckeyes attacked .696, terminating 16 of 23 errorless attempts. Ohio State passed much better in set number two, leading to a sizzling sideout rate of 86 percent (13-15). Christy Blough recorded a kill and assisted on 14 of the Ohio State’s other 15 kills in a dominating 25-14 final tally.
Set 3: Penn State rebounded impressively as well, coming right back with a convincing win of their own in the third. The Nittany Lions raced out to leads of 7-2 and 16-6, both forcing Ohio State timeouts. Penn closed it out moments later by a 25-15 final ledger.
Set 4: The evening’s first tightly-contested set finally arrived in the fourth. The lead exchanged hands three times and sat tied on nine occasions. Despite being out-attacked by nearly a 2:1 margin (.304:1.54), the Buckeyes mustered a hard-fought 25-22 equalizer. Ohio State was the beneficiary of seven Nittany Lion serving blunders. A three-point spurt midway through the set pushed the Buckeyes ahead for good at 15-14.
Set 5: Heightened drama did little to derail the back-and-forth play of the fourth spilling into the final frame. Ohio State stormed back from an 8-4 deficit to go on top, 11-10, following back-to-back stuffs from Miles Johnson and Blake Leeson. Unfortunately the upper hand was short-lived as PSU snagged five of the next six points to clinch the match triumph, 15-12.
Ohio State gets back after it this weekend, playing hosting to MIVA foe McKendree University in a pair of 7 p.m. home matches (March 31-April 1).