MVB Blocks Way to Win Over Penn State
The No. 2 UCLA men's volleyball team (3-0) topped No. 3 Penn State (4-2) in four sets on Saturday night before over 1,000 fans in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom on the second night of the annual Pac-12 / Big Ten Challenge. Scores of the contest were 17-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-19. The Bruins were led by Ethan Champlin's career-high tying 18 kills. UCLA also controlled the nets by outblocking the Nittany Lions 12.5 to 6.5 for the match. In the day's opening match, No. 11 Ohio State handed No. 12 USC its first loss of the season in four sets.
In set one, Penn State broke away first, jumping to a 7-10 lead. UCLA battled back to close to 9-11 after a couple of Champlin kills, but the Nittany Lions scored five of the next seven points for a 11-16 advantage. The Bruins still trailed 14-18 after a net call. Penn State added on to its lead with three straight points to go ahead 14-21. A PSU block ended the set at 17-25. UCLA hit .188 with five attack errors and seven service errors.
UCLA snapped a 7-all tie with three straight points off blocks for a 10-7 advantage. Alex Knight, Kevin Kobrine and Merrick McHenry controlled the nets during the stretch. The gap grew to 12-8 after a series of errors. UCLA led 15-12 following a Kobrine kill. However, the Nittany Lions tallied the next three points to even the set at 15-15. UCLA went back up 20-17 by taking advantage of three PSU errors. A Guy Genis/Knight block put UCLA in front 21-18. Penn State answered with four straight points to take the lead at 21-22. A couple of Genis kills evened the set at 22 and 23-all. Champlin's swing gave UCLA a look at set point at 24-23. Penn State bounced back to serve for the set at 24-25. Champlin's kill kept the Bruins alive. A Kobrine/McHenry block put the Bruins up 26-25. After Penn State evened the score, the Bruins recorded the next two points on a service error and a kill by McHenry for a 28-26 win. The Bruins had 5.0 blocks in the set.
Kobrine served the Bruins into a 5-2 edge to begin set three. Kills by Genis and Kobrine put UCLA up 7-4 and then 9-6. An ace from Alex Knight made it 13-10. Penn State regrouped to pull in front 15-14 with four straight points heading into the media timeout. Kills by Kobrine and Knight evened the score at 16 and 17-all. A Genis kill tied the score at 19. Champlin's swing and a block pushed UCLA into the lead at 22-20. Back-to-back kills by Champlin ended the set at 25-22. UCLA hit at a .379 clip for the set with 16 kills.
UCLA rode Knight's serve to a 6-3 advantage to begin set four. Consecutive kills from Champlin handed UCLA a 9-6 lead. A kill from Knight and two from Genis upped the margin to 13-8. The gap grew to 16-9 after a couple more Genis kills and a Penn State error. Champlin equaled his career high with his 18th kill to make it 20-14. A Kobrine/McHenry block put UCLA up 23-15. Penn State rallied to close to 24-19. McHenry's kill ended the set and the match at 25-19.
The Bruins are scheduled to host CSUN on Jan. 27 (7 p.m.) and No. 7 Lewis (5 p.m.) on Jan. 29 next week on Collins Court in the John Wooden Center.