NCAA men: Ohio State tops USC, UCLA gets past Penn State

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Penn State's Declan Pierce can't get to the kill by UCLA's Daenan Gyimah/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Third-ranked Ohio State and  No. 2 UCLA were the winners Thursday night in the AVCA Showcase at UCLA.

Ohio State of the MIVA beat USC of the MPSF in four, while UCLA of the MPSF did the same to No. 9 Penn State of the EIVA in early season meetings amongst four of the biggest schools that play NCAA men’s volleyball. They play again Saturday, with Penn State playing USC at 11 a.m. Pacific and UCLA facing Ohio State at 1:30.

Friday’s slate is busy, including Barton of Conference Carolinas at No. 5 BYU of the MPSF, and No. 7 CSUN of the MPSF playing host to Concordia of the Big West.

There are three EIVA vs. MIVA matchups, with Harvard at Fort Wayne, Sacred Heart at Ball State and Saint Francis at Lewis.

Also in the MIVA, Quincy plays host to Park and Loyola is home for Grand View.

The EIVA’s George Mason is home for Mount Olive of Conference Carolinas and NJIT plays UC Irvine of the Big West in Phoenix.

Also in the Big West, UC San Diego plays host to UC Santa Cruz. And in Conference Carolinas, North Greenville plays Bluefield College.

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Ohio State libero Aaron Samarin stretches out for the save against USC/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Ohio State tops Trojans: The Buckeyes, who have won the last two NCAA titles, got 17 kills from Nicolas Szerszen in their 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21 victory.

Szerszen, who hit .517, had seven kills in the fourth set. He finished with three of his team’s 10 aces and had six digs. Ohio State (3-1) also got 11 kills from Martin Lallemand, who had four blocks. Blake Leeson had seven kills, hit .500, and had five blocks, one solo.

“We played a lot of different guys, that’s what we’re trying to do in January, get some guys experience,” Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said. “I thought we were really sharp in sets one and two, and then we kind of lost our edge, but fought back in set four, which was nice to see, and some young guys made some plays.

“I think we’re still a long way away from finding our final mix. We certainly know what we have with Nic Szerszen, I don’t think Max Hervoir had a match like he typically does, he kind of struggled tonight, Blake Leeson, we know what we have with that, but we have a new libero, a new setter, a new opposite.  

“We have a lot of new pieces that are still finding their way, we just have to stay patient with them, I like the fact that they’re bought in and they’re working hard.”

Jack Wyett led USC (3-3) with 18 kills and hit .424. He had two of his team’s three aces and five blocks. Ryan Moss had 12 kills while hitting .348 and had three blocks.

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UCLA setter Micah Ma’a backsets with one hand, creating an open-net opportunity/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

UCLA downs Nittany Lions: JT Hatch and Christian Hessenauer had 11 kills each as the unbeaten Bruins (6-0) won 25-15, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22.

Hatch had five blocks, seven digs and an ace, while Hessenauer had six blocks and three digs. Gyimah added eight kills in 10 errorless swings and had seven blocks, one solo.

“Our battles with Penn State are always really good and I thought Penn State showed a lot of poise coming back in the second set,” UCLA coach John Speraw said.

“We played really good volleyball coming out. We hit almost .500, were serving really well, we’re tough to beat when we’re playing like that. They came back and played well. I personally enjoyed playing a great team, putting some pressure on them, I like how we came out, I like what we’re able to learn this early in the season, and overall I’m really pleased that we’re able to come away with a win against a great team.

Jake Arnitz, out with the flu last week, played one set and had one kill in his only swing.

“Right now we’re passing the ball real well with the lineup we have, Dylan (Missry) is playing great and JT’s playing great, I think we’re going to learn a little about our connection with the speed going forward, once we get that dialed in, I think our hitting percentage will go up, I’m pleased with the lineup we have right now.

Penn State (2-1) got 13 kills from Aidan Albrecht, who had three aces and four digs. Calvin Mende had eight kills, two blocks and four digs.

Grand Canyon sweeps NJIT: The Lopes of the MPSF are 6-1, best start in program history, after their 27-25, 25-23, 25-14 victory over visiting NJIT.

Cody Williams and Shalev Saada had 10 kills each for the winners.

“There are some bright notes to take away from this,” GCU coach Matt Werle said. “I am happy that we were able to win a couple deuce sets. Secondly, getting the first win at home is great. Our fan support is like none other across the country. It took some getting used to for our own guys because of how loud the gym is.”

NJIT (0-6) got nine kills from Raymond Kowalski.

King tops Alderson-Broaddus: The ConfCarolinas team won 25-10, 25-18, 25-17 to improve to 2-2 and drop A-B to 0-3. Kiel Bell led King with 11 kills, three blocks and seven digs.

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