UNIVERSITY PARK — There may not be a Big Ten for men’s volleyball, but the two conference schools that field teams in the sport put on a battle Wednesday night at Rec Hall worthy of the league.
No. 12 Penn State overcame early hitting troubles with a run of big blocks and big serves to put away No. 14 Ohio State in four sets.
Behind 20 kills and four aces for Nick Goodell, and 16 kills and five aces for Aaron Russell, the Nittany Lions prevailed 29-27, 22-25, 31-29, 25-15 to earn their sixth straight victory.
The contest, which lasted 2 hours and 1 minute, also marked the third time in the last four contests the Lions were pushed to four sets before earning a win at home.
The key plays for Penn State came in the third set, when the Buckeyes rolled off five out of six points to take a 21-16 lead, and after the teams traded points the margin was at 22-17.
Kills for Russell and Goodell preceded four straight blocks — one for Goodell, two for Matt Callaway and a shared block for those two — to give Penn State the lead. The teams kept playing for a while, with neither wanting to give in, before Aaron and Peter Russell each had kills on the final two points to close the frame.
The Nittany Lions then held onto the momentum in the fourth set, building an early 10-4 lead and never again letting the margin dip below four points. Goodell’s 20th kill of the night closed the match.
After racking up 20 hitting errors over the first three sets, Penn State (6-2) had just two in the final frame and hit .308 for the match. Ohio State hit .327 with 19 errors.
Peter Russell added 10 kills, and he, brother Aaron and Connor Curry each had seven digs. Callaway finished with seven blocks, including three solo stuffs, and Taylor Hammond gave out 47 assists.
Andrew Lutz’s 20 kills paced the Buckeyes (4-5), followed by Driss Guessous’ 12 kills and seven blocks, Christy Blough’s 45 assists, Gabriel Domecus’ 12 digs and Miles Johnson’s three aces.
After trailing in blocks most of the night, Penn State finished with a 12-11 advantage and also led the way in aces 11-6.
The Nittany Lions also prevailed in straight sets over Ohio State in the Outrigger Invitational in Hawaii last month to take the first two of the three scheduled regular-season meetings. The Buckeyes won two of three last season.
The match continued Penn State’s homestand, with the fifth out of 11 straight matches in either Rec Hall’s main or south gym. The Nittany Lions host Erskine on Friday night.