Buckeyes Shock Penn State in Dominating 3-0 Sweep
With over 3,200 fans packed inside historic Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University, the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions were shocked by the ninth-ranked Ohio State University Buckeyes in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 26-24).
“I thought that tonight’s match had the feel of a national semifinal,” said Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik. “These are the types of matches we need because these are the types of matches that these guys are going to be playing in in late April and early May.”
In a tournament-like atmosphere, the Buckeyes were able to atone for an early season 3-0 loss to Penn State in the Outrigger Invitational in Honolulu.
“That was our best match tactically,” said Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson. “We felt comfortable and confident in what we were doing that we would have an answer for what they might throw at us.”
The difference this time around, redshirt sophomore Andrew Lutz. The opposite hitter was a key missing piece of the puzzle in the Buckeye’s loss to Penn State in Hawaii. The Nittany Lions simply had no answer for Lutz who finished the night with 13 kills and a .281 hitting percentage.
“He makes a difference. He’s a guy that blockers have to respect,” said Hanson on Lutz.
Coming off a very quick 3-0 victory over the Saint Francis Red Flash Friday night, Penn State lost its first game at home since May 5 2011, when the Nittany Lions lost to none other than Ohio State.
“It’s disappointing that we lost in front of such a great crowd,” said Pavlik after the match. “The difference between winning and losing all three games was a very thin line.”
Penn State who had leads into the late teens in each of the three sets was unable to maintain their advantage over a much taller Ohio State squad who was able to convert in late game situations.
“We couldn’t finish the job,” said Pavlik.
The first set was a very heated and evenly matched as the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes exchanged points back and forth causing fourteen ties and eight lead changes. The Taylor Hammond to Tom Comfort connection put PSU in front late in the first set, but a couple of miscommunication sequences by the Nittany Lions proved to be costly as Lutz and Ohio State won 25-22.
In the second set it looked as if a block party by the likes of Matt Seifert and Tom Comfort were going to put PSU ahead for good, but two questionable calls by the referees changed the entire complexity of the set. All of a sudden the Buckeyes stormed back down four to win 25-20.
The third set was almost identical to the first set as there were thirteen tie scores and five lead changes. Penn State’s Aaron Russell, who finished with 16 kills on .480 hitting, tried to mount a comeback, but Ohio State’s intensity on the court was too much for the entire Nittany Lion team to handle.
“This is our big punch in the mouth. We are going to be back and we are going to be better,” said Penn State setter Taylor Hammond.
Penn State, who was riding a nine game winning streak and seven game home winning streak, had trouble passing offensively and was over-matched at the net, tallying only five team blocks to Ohio State’s 10.
“For the most part, in tough parts in the games, Ohio State out-competed us,” said Pavlik. “Our problem was passing. The impact that our passers can have on our offense was very telling at the end of the game.”
This is not the last time these two teams meet this season, as Penn State will travel to Columbus to rematch the Buckeyes on March 16. Having said that Pavlik stressed the importance of focusing only on the next game.
“You can’t be your own worst enemy,” said a joking Pavlik.
The Nittany Lions will look to get back to their winning ways as they go on the road to face the Harvard Crimson Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
Tyler Feldman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and business management. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Marketing
Currently, Feldman is an executive producer, reporter and anchor for the Centre County Report, as well as ComRadio’s senior sports director. He also is the host of the Penn State Coaches Show featuring Guy Gadowsky, which airs live from Lettermans on ESPN Radio 1450 and GoPSUSports.com every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Additionally, he was the first to report the hiring of Joe Moorhead as Penn State football’s new offensive coordinator on December 12, 2015.
He’s a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism within the College of Communications and enrolled in the Smeal College of Business.
Feldman, a Pittsburgh native, has broadcasted sporting events from a number of international and professional venues, including Estadio Latinoamericano in Cuba, Madison Square Garden, CONSOL Energy Center, Wells Fargo Center, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, and EverBank Field.
Last spring, he traveled with the Penn State men’s volleyball team as their play-by-play man, announcing his very first NCAA tournament matches at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
He has gained valuable broadcasting and reporting experience interning and working at WTAJ-TV, MLB Network, GoPSUSports.com, 105.9 The X, 970 AM ESPN, Big Ten Network Student U, and State College’s ESPN Radio 1450.
Feldman has a strong passion for sports and dreams to become a sports anchor/reporter in a national market and/or a hockey play-by-play announcer.