Russell Leads Penn State to Upset of USC

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Aaron Russell lunges for the pass.

National team player and Penn State senior outside hitter Aaron Russell put away 20 kills in the Nittany Lions upset of No. 7-ranked USC Tuesday night. The Maryland native made only two errors in 25 swings to hit a match-high .720.

The win marks Penn State’s first over a ranked opponent so far this season. The Nittany Lions started the year with a dismal 0-6 record, dropping out of the AVCA Top 15 Poll entirely a few weeks into the season. Now, halfway through the season, the Lions find themselves in the midst of a three-match win streak heading into matches against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State on Friday and Saturday.

In the 3-0 sweep of USC (25-18, 25-19, 25-21), Penn State hit .422, the highest any team has hit against the Trojans so far this year. For their part, USC, with an offense led by national team setter Micah Christenson, hit only .198.

I thought our servers did a pretty good job of getting the ball deep on the passers of SC, said Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik. With Micah Christenson running the offense you dont want to make it too easy on him.

The Trojans have now lost five of their last six matches, falling to formidable MPSF opponents BYU, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine. This weekend, they will face Lindenwood in another non-conference matchup.

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