The fans who stayed for both NCAA men’s volleyball matches Saturday at the AVCA showcase in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion certainly got their money’s worth.
That’s because in the morning opener, No. 9 Penn State beat USC 23-25, 25-21, 28-26, 19-25, 17-15, and then No. 3 UCLA beat No. 2 Ohio State 25-18, 22-25, 27-25, 24-26, 16-14 to improve to 7-0.
Top-ranked Long Beach State is also 7-0 after the 49ers swept Stanford.
There was an upset as UC Santa Barbara beat No. 10 Pepperdine on a night when Pepperdine honored former coach Marv Dunphy by naming the volleyball court for him.
There was one conference match of the 13 played Saturday and Lindenwood beat Quincy in the MIVA.
UCLA, Penn State win five-setters: The Bruins of the MPSF gave coach John Speraw his 300th victory after falling behind 14-13 in the fifth at the AVCA showcase. JT Hatch tied it with a kill, Dylan Missry put UCLA ahead with an ace and a block by Oliver Martin and Christian Hessenauer ended it.
Hessenauer led with 19 kills, 13 digs and four blocks. He had one of UCLA’s two aces and seven of their 29 service errors.
“It was a great match because there were two teams that were fighting really, really hard. Two teams that will both be a lot better in a couple of months,” Speraw said. “We each had our hitting woes, nobody was hitting as well as I think they will be later in the season.
“Obviously, our serving had a real tough stretch late in the second and early in the third set. I was pleased to how we responded in that regard. Actually, Micah (Ma’a) said it in the timeout, ‘We can’t worry about the crowd moaning every time we miss a serve. Hey, welcome to men’s volleyball, this is the way it’s played, we’re going to miss serves and sometimes we’re going to get into a bad stretch.’
“I think we weathered that really well, which shows some nice poise, and so did they. This match clearly could have gone either way, and we’re just grateful it came our way tonight.”
Hatch had 16 kills, nine digs and three blocks, two solo. Daenan Gyimah had nine kills in 18 errorless swings and seven blocks.
“Before the match, we said that we needed to figure this team out, so it’s a good opportunity to play them early in the year,” Hatch said of the two-time defending NCAA-champion Buckeyes of the MIVA. “They’ll definitely be back here in May (the NCAA Championship at UCLA), and we’re hoping to be here. Win or lose, it’s great to play someone this caliber early in the year.
“These are two teams that could end up being pretty good at the end of the year. We got this win, but both of our outside hitters were below .200. JT was .205, Dylan was .000, and Hessenauer was .214,” Speraw said.
“I know we’re going to miss some serves, but I want them to be better errors. At that stretch at the end of the second set, we weren’t making good contact, we weren’t making good tosses, we’re not making good decisions, they’re going into the net, those are bad errors. We’ve got to get better there.
“And honestly, just our general transition and out-of-system attacking we can get a lot better, especially on the left, and I still think there are some opportunities at the end of the fourth set, we missed our connection between Oliver and Micah on the quick attack, I believe that in a couple of months, that’s not going to happen, maybe we win in four. And I know they’re thinking the same thing.”
Ohio State is 3-2 after Nicolas Szerszen led with 21 kills. He hit .311 and had 12 digs and two blocks. Jake Hanes added 18 kills and three of the Buckeyes’ four aces and six of their 21 errors. He also had five digs and two blocks, one solo.
“They served the hell out of the ball, so as a passer, you just have to stay in there the whole time. I thought we did a pretty good job managing their serves, they got some aces, but it was a good game for us,” Hatch said.
Ohio State hit .113.
“That was a great match, what was it, four deuce games, you throw out game one, where the guys in red and gray didn’t play very well, but we got the ship back on track and did some pretty nice things,” Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said. “It’s about teaching young guys how to finish sets, and be good at the end when the pressure gets ratcheted up. Hopefully as we get better at that we’ll have some different results.”
Ohio State beat USC on Friday in other AVCA showcase action.
“It’s really, really important to have some of those new kids on the floor who haven’t been in this situation get this type of environment and play in this type of pressure,” Hanson said. “You get to the NCAAs, and the crowd is four to six times bigger, every time you do that, it’s a win-win for your kids.
“Hopefully our guys come out of this with the right mental framework, and you have to understand that the margins are so slim at this level. When you’re playing the top three-four-five teams in the country, it’s one little missed dig, it’s one little missed block assignment, whatever the case may be. It’s not huge things, it’s little things. So we’re going to work on them, see if we can get better.”
Penn State of the EIVA improved to 2-1. The Nittany Lions lost to UCLA on Friday.
“I think the last four or five times that the Nittany Lions have met the Trojans, we’ve gone five,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “I think we’re trying to match the over-under the football teams had last year in the Rose Bowl.
“Jeff (Nygaard) has his team doing some good things, it’s January volleyball, you know you’re going to give up some points that you’re not going to give up in March-April, I think both teams are just trying to hang on, and we were fortunate enough to streak last. In that match, I think whoever streaked last, won. II thought we did a pretty good job today.”
Penn State had four players with 15 or more kills as the Nittany Lions hit .285. Aidan Albrecht led with 18 kills and hit .412. He had three of his team’s six aces and seven of its 26 errors to go with six digs and two blocks. Calvin Mende, Jalen Penrose and Matthew McLaren had 15 kills each.
However, opposite Mendes left in the fourth set with an ankle injury.
“This team rolls with the punches,” Pavlik said. “This is the ‘Roll with the punches 2018 tour’ that we’re on. We went through similar situations last year and the year before. If there’s one constant, you know that we’re going to have injuries or sickness. It bodes well that the guys that went in for him did a terrific job. This team has seen a lot, let’s see where we go from here.”
USC dropped to 3-4. Jack Wyett led with 20 kills and hit .341. He had five digs and five blocks. Ryan Moss added 14 kills, seven digs and three blocks and he had two of his team’s six aces.
“Any time you can play quality teams in January, your warts are going to become very exposed and the earlier you can expose them, the more time you have to work on them,” Pavlik said. “Our transition game’s not where it’s going to be, we were happy with our side-out game, we weren’t happy with our passing, but right now, I think that servers are ahead of passers.”
Long Beach sweeps Stanford: The Beach of the Big West made short work of struggling Stanford 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 as the MPSF’s Cardinal dropped to 1-6.
Kyle Ensing and TJ DeFalco had 12 kills each for Long Beach. Ensing, who hit .385, had seven digs and three blocks, one solo.
Stanford’s Kevin Rakestraw, who hit .444, and Kyler Presho had nine kills each.
Around the MPSF: The scores were tighter, but BYU swept Barton of Conference Carolinas for the second straight night. The Cougars are 5-1 after the 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 victory.
Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 12 kills and Andrew Lincoln 10.
“We expected that team to play better than they did last night,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It was good for us to battle through some rough stretches. That’s good experience for the guys.”
Barton is 0-5 …
Pepperdine couldn’t pull one out for its former coach as UCSB came away with a 28-26, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23 victory. The Waves dropped to 1-2, while UCSB of the Big West is 3-1 after Corey Chavers had 24 kills, hit .333, had two aces and six blocks. Colby Harriman had 17 kills for Pepperdine …
No. 6 UC Irvine had to go five to battle back at No. 12 Grand Canyon 22-25, 25-17, 17-25, 25-19, 15-13. UCI is 7-1 after Karl Apfelbach had 17 kills and hit .378, Aaron Koubi had 16 kills and Scott Stadick had 10 kills, hit .529 and added six blocks …
UC San Diego beat Concordia 26-28, 28-26, 25-18, 25-23 as Tanner Syftestad had 24 kills and 11 digs. UCSD is 5-1, while Concordia is 2-1.
Lindenwood leads the MIVA: Of course, that’s because it won the first league match of the season, beating Quincy 25-21, 18-25, 40-38, 25-20. Lindenwood is 4-1 overall, while Quincy is 1-1. Johnny Winkler led with 15 kills …
Also in the MIVA, No. 15 Ball State beat Harvard of the EIVA in four, No. 8 Loyola swept No. 14 Saint Francis of the EIVA and No. 11 Lewis did the same to Benedictine. Matt Szews had 13 kills for Ball State, Jeff Jendryk had 10 kills in 13 errorless swings for Loyola while also getting three digs and five blocks, while Dalen Instenes had 20 kills for Lewis while hitting .459. He added an ace, two digs and five blocks.
Also in the MIVA, Fort Wayne swept Sacred Heart of the EIVA to improve to 6-0 as Pelegrin Vargas had 12 kills and Colton Stone 11.
Other winners Saturday included the EIVA’s Charleston sweeping North Greenville of Conference Carolinas and ConfCarolina’s Limestone sweeping Queens. But two other Conference Carolinas teams lost, as Belmont Abbey was swept by Lincoln Memorial and Lees-McRae lost in five to Alderson Broaddus.