(Photo courtesy the Lantern)
The nation’s number one team in the Nation, The Ohio State University, took one on the chin in Happy Valley against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The 19th ranked Men’s Penn State (14-9) played spiritedly and shone at the end after the completion of five sets (25-21, 14-25, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12).
The loss ends a 20-match winning streak for the Buckeyes in road matches. The Buckeyes hadn’t dropped a contest on an opponent’s floor since 2015.
This is how it all went down:
Set 1: Seemingly the Buckeyes were doomed from the start in this set – committing eleven unforced errors, which included eight from the service stripe. As they fell behind 3-0, The Ohio State University just could not muster enough to take control. In a video review challenge by Penn State showed that a Buckeye block, in fact, touched a Penn State attack – taking a long flight. The final in this first set would play in favor of the Nittany Lions, 25-21.
Set 2: A definite reply surfaced from the Buckeyes in the second stanza to even the match, 1-1, heading to intermission. The Buckeyes attacked .696, terminating 16 of 23 errorless attempts. Ohio State passed more effectively in this second set, leading to a sizzling side-out rate of 86 percent (13-15).
Set 3: Penn State responded too. In the third set they were overwhelmingly more present than the Buckeyes – plain and simple. The Nittany Lions raced out to commanding leads, 7-2 and 16-6, both times forcing the Buckeyes to bow to a timeout. Penn State finalized it to 25-15.
Set 4: In the fourth, a better evened match appeared. The lead exchanged hands three times and sat tied on nine separate occasions. Despite being out-attacked by nearly a 2:1 margin (.304:1.54), the Buckeyes stood-tall, fighting hard, making it 25-22 to even it up.
Set 5: Tension filled the air. The ‘barn-burner’ no one expected materialized. The play was back-and-forth. The Buckeyes Ohio State came roaring back from an 8-4 deficit to move on top, 11-10, following back-to-back stuffs from Miles Johnson and Blake Leeson. Penn State though would not yield to the sudden resurgence of the Scarlet and Gray. The Nittany Lions ‘took’ five of the remaining six points to secure victory, 15-12.
The Buckeyes will be back in action, this coming weekend, as they meet up with MIVA opponent, McKendree University in a pair of 7 p.m. home matches (March 31-April 1).
Arguably, the Buckeyes should remain in the top spot nationally. Even in their loss, not a dominance by the opponent, as is what occurred against UC-Irvine, in their first loss of the season (3-0), the Buckeyes stood with the 11th ranked Nittany Lions until falling at the end. In head-to-head with Long Beach State, the Buckeyes dominated, winning 3-0. They have not met against the 3rd ranked team, BYU. Both Long Beach State and BYU have three losses. Do the math!