Penn State Finishes Off Fourth Ranked Win Of Season Against No. 10 USC
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – No. 4 Penn State men’s volleyball held off a late comeback by No. 10 USC to win 3-1 on Friday night.
The Nittany Lions bounce back against USC after losing to No. 3 Long Beach State on Jan. 25. The loss marked the end of a 25 regular season win streak for Penn State that carried over from last season.
The match against USC is the first of the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge this season for the Nittany Lions. This marks the fourth ranked face-offs that the blue and white have won this season; three of the four have been top 10 matchups.
It started in the opening set where Penn State found itself down by three nearing the end of the set. After two service errors and a kill by Cal Fisher, the Nittany Lions would tie it at 17.
Later in the first set, the blue and white found themselves tied with the Trojans at 25. Two USC attack errors later and Penn State walked away with set one 30-28.
Fisher turned it on for the Nittany Lions in the following set and recorded four kills and one service ace to give the blue and white a 25-20 victory. Fisher would end the day with 13 kills on 28 attacks, nine digs and two service aces.
“It’s nice to pull an all American off the bench,” Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said in reference to Fisher’s performance. “I think that we really started to flow from there.”
In the third set, USC was able to avoid the sweep from Penn State after being down by six. The Trojans would go up 24-22 in the late stages of set number three and were able to close it out off an attack error from Brett Wildman.
Following USC’s first winning set the Nittany Lions silenced any chance that the Trojans would have of a comeback with a dominant 25-18 win. Wildman would serve 10 times throughout the final set which resulted in one service ace and seven team points.
“Brett’s coming back from an ankle injury and he’s just really starting,” Pavlik said. “He came up with some pretty big swings in some situations.”
Wildman capped off the day with a season high 16 kills, and also surpassed 1,000 for his career in one of Penn State’s biggest matches of the year. The Nittany Lions have now won four of their five ranked matchups on the season, four of which were against top 10 teams.
Penn State didn’t do it alone though as Rec Hall was packed with fans after traveling through negative degree temperatures that brought the energy for the team.
“They just brought energy to the whole thing and the gym got a lot louder,” Fisher said. “You can feel that when you’re on the court.”
The Nittany Lions improve to 7-1 on the season and host No. 2 UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m. for their sixth ranked match of the season already.
USC falls to 6-3 and will aim to get back in the win column on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Micheal Bolger is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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