No. 15 men's volleyball knocks off No. 7 USC

March 12, 2015

LOS ANGELES -- No. 15 Penn State men's volleyball (7-9) knocked off No. 7 USC (10-6) in straight sets (25-18, 25-19, 25-21) Tuesday evening on the road at the Galen Center for the Nittany Lions' first win against a ranked opponent this season.

Senior Aaron Russell powered the offense with a game-high 20 kills on .720 hitting with only two attack errors on 25 swings. Redshirt senior Nick Goodell also posted double figures with 12 kills, adding five digs and two blocks.

Sophomore Chris Nugent finished third on the team with nine kills, while also finishing second on the team with eight digs. Redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway and redshirt junior Matt Seifert led the blocking unit with three blocks each.

Redshirt senior Connor Curry logged a solid defensive performance, recording a game-high 12 digs.

Redshirt junior Taylor Hammond paced the team to a .422 hitting clip, dishing out 39 assists to go along with four digs, two blocks and one ace.

Penn State jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Trojans cut off the run with a kill. Callaway and Russell quickly sparked a 3-1 spurt with back-to-back kills to pull Penn State ahead by five, 9-4. USC answered back with two kills before a PSU attack error to move the Trojans within two, 9-7. Penn State responded with kills from Goodell and Russell and a solo stuff from Seifert to build the advantage back to five, 12-7, causing USC to call a timeout.

The Trojans came out of the break with a 3-2 stretch to narrow the margin to four, 14-10, but Nugent and Russell put down two kills in the row to send the Nittany Lions up by as many as six, 16-10. USC hung with Penn State out of the break, using a 5-3 streak to keep within four, 19-15. PSU pulled away with a 5-2 strike to arrive at set point, 24-17. The Trojans held off just one attempt before an attack error gave the Nittany Lions a 25-18 win in the first set.

Trailing by one early in set two, 3-2, Goodell opened up a 3-0 strike to lift the Nittany Lions up by two, 5-3. USC responded with five unanswered points to take over a one-point lead, 7-6. Penn State came firing back with two kills from Goodell to open up a 5-1 run that lifted Penn State ahead by three, 11-8.

The Trojans looked to break up the momentum with a timeout, but PSU responded with three straight to construct a six-point lead, 14-8. Penn State continued to hold off USC, matching the Trojans point-for-point to remain in control of a five-point lead, 20-14. Looking to settle into an offensive rhythm, the Trojans tallied three in a row to trim the PSU advantage to three, 20-17, prompting Penn State to call a timeout.

Down by two in set three, 7-5, Russell put down a pair of kills to tie the frame, 7-7. Penn State and USC managed to keep the score tied up, 9-9, before the Trojans pulled away with a 5-2 run to take over a three-point lead, 14-11. Penn State responded with two kills from Russell and one from Goodell to keep the score knotted, 14-14.

The Trojans looked to spark some momentum with a kill, 15-14, but the Nittany Lions answered with four unanswered points to go up by three, 18-15, causing USC to call a timeout. Penn State came out of the break with a block and a kill to widen the margin to five, 20-15, but the Trojans answered with a kill and an ace to remain within three, 20-17.

Goodell attempted to cut off the streak with a kill, 21-17, but the Trojans battled back with a 3-1 strike to shave the advantage to two, 22-20, forcing PSU to call a timeout. A USC service error and a kill from Callaway out of the break quickly put Penn State at match point, 24-20. The Trojans made one final attempt to mount a comeback with a kill, 24-21, but a block by Hammond and Callaway put away a 25-21 win in the third set to complete the sweep.

Penn State came out of the break firing, using a 4-1 strike capped off by back-to-back kills from Goodell to make it set point, 24-18. A Nittany Lion service error held off the attempt, but USC followed with a service error to secure a 25-19 win in favor of Penn State.

Next up, Penn State is set to compete in the Asics Tournament hosted by Long Beach State. The Nittany Lions square off against Cal State Northridge Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET before taking on the tournament host 49ers Saturday, March 14 at 10 p.m. ET in Walter Pyramid.   

Last Updated March 12, 2015