HONOLULU — No. 7 Penn State closed out the opening weekend of play with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-22) win against No. 10 Ohio State (2-2) in its final match of the Hawaii Outrigger Invitational. The Nittany Lions finished the tournament with a 2-1 record with a win against Hawaii on Jan. 11 and a loss to fifth-ranked UCLA on Jan. 10.
The Nittany Lions had three players post double-digit kills with sophomore Aaron Russell leading the way with 13 on .391 hitting. Junior Peter Russell pounded 12 kills, while senior Tom Comfort put down 10. Redshirt freshman Taylor Hammond paced the offense with 41 assists and senior Nick Turko had three aces. Redshirt sophomore Connor Curry had a team-best 11 digs and Comfort led the Lions with four blocks.
Penn State registered a .292 hitting percentage against the Buckeyes. The Lions finished with 44 kills, seven aces, 33 digs and 5.0 total team blocks. Ohio State hit .196 against Penn State and totaled 34 kills, three aces, 31 digs and 9.0 team blocks.
The first set was close from the start, but Penn State pulled ahead near the midpoint of the set after three Ohio State errors helped PSU move ahead 16-13. Ohio State used a timeout and fought to within one 17-16, but soon after a Comfort kill and a Turko ace helped Penn State regain its three-point lead 20-17. A second Ohio State timeout helped keep the Nittany Lions from pulling way. Two Buckeye kills and a block pulled OSU within one 23-22. Penn State used a timeout, but Ohio State pounded back-to-back kills to knot the score at 24. PSU regrouped in a second timeout and two consecutive kills from Peter Russell secured set one for Penn State 26-24.
Ohio State took a 3-1 lead to start the second set, but an OSU error and a Russell kill had it tied up early at three. The score tied six more times before a putdown by Aaron Russell and an ace from senior Ian Hendries had Penn State leading by two 11-9. Ohio State knotted the score at 12, but kills from Peter and Aaron Russell moved PSU back in front. Penn State’s run continued with five consecutive points for a 23-14 advantage. Chen Levitan cut off the run with a kill before Peter Heinen registered an ace. A PSU error gave Ohio State its final point of the set before a Buckeye mistake and a Peter Russell kill had the Lions with a 25-17 win.
In the third set, Ohio State maintained control briefly before an Aaron Russell kill and a block by Comfort and redshirt freshman Matt Seifert knotted the score at 18. The score tied two more times, but another Aaron Russell kill and an Ohio State error had Penn State on top, 22-20. Ohio State called a second timeout, but the Buckeyes managed just two final points. Peter Russell pounded two kills to help Penn State to a 25-22 third set win.