Penn State clips Ohio State in five sets

Story posted March 22, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Brad Wakai

The Ohio State Buckeyes (15-5, 7-3 MIVA) made the trip to Rec Hall Saturday to face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-9, 4-0 EIVA) in a rematch of their rivalry season series.

The Nittany Lions were swept in straight sets in the first matchup (24-26, 22-25, 23-25) when they traveled to Columbus, Ohio on February 11th.

Penn State was ready to go from the start of this match, playing in front of a rowdy Hawaiian shirt themed crowd and quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead before it was eventually tied at six. It continued to stay close until Penn State started to pull away 14-12, forcing Ohio State to call a timeout and regroup.

The timeout was effective and allowed Ohio State to eventually take the lead at 20-19, causing Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik to call a timeout.

The Nittany Lions needed someone to step up and deliver a win in the first set and redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose was ready to do just that with two kills after the timeout, but it wasn’t enough.

In a set that had 12 ties and three lead changes, Ohio State finally edged out Penn State 25-22 to take the opening set.

Penrose credits his teammates for his recent success.

“In practices we’ve been putting me with the starting lineup here and there and I’ve been connecting well with Taylor (Hammond) and that unit. They’ve been embracing me and I’ve been embracing them, so it’s core work.”

It was hard to imagine a set more entertaining than the first, but the second set delivered in a big way with 15 ties and five lead changes. The set was close the entire time forcing each coach to use timeouts strategically to get timely points.

The strong play of Penrose continued with seven kills alongside senior Aaron Russell who also had seven kills. They led the way to tie the match up at one set apiece, winning the second set 25-22.

In the third set, Ohio State looked to regain a set advantage and quickly went on a 3-0 run. The Nittany Lions fought back to take a 6-5 lead and eventually led by as many as four, before Buckeye head coach Pete Hanson had seen enough with his guys trailing 15-11 and called a timeout.

The Buckeyes put together a 3-0 run, but Penrose stopped that with a big kill. This seemed to give Penn State life as they took the third set 25-20, giving them a two sets to one lead.

Facing a potential loss, the Buckeyes knew winning the fourth set was a must to have a chance at winning the match in five sets. They put together a dominant run that gave them an early lead which they were able to keep and extend upon until Penn State woke up and made a furious, late rally of their own led by Aaron Russell.

In the end, it was too little too late as the Buckeyes won the set 25-22, forcing a winner takes all fifth set.

Penn State looked hungry for a win and came out firing to get the early 5-3 advantage, forcing a timeout call from the Buckeye coach. After the timeout, the score was close like a fifth set should be, until Aaron Russell took over finishing with six kills in the set.

The offense from Russell was enough to give Penn State the fifth set victory 15-9 after Jalen Penrose ended the match with an emphatic kill.

Russell and Penrose finished the match with 30 and 19 kills respectively. When asked about Aaron Russell’s performance, Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said that’s what All-American candidates do.

“Players make plays. And Aaron made more plays than our guys did and that’s why he’s an All-American candidate.”

Penn State looks to continue their hot streak of six wins in a row at home against Princeton March 27th.

Brad Wakai is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email