Penn State schedules home matches vs. UCLA, USC to open 2016 season

The site of the 2016 NCAA Tournament will also be the location for one of the biggest non-conference events at the start of the upcoming season.

Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said in a recent with Off the Block that his team will open the season with a home non-conference showcase featuring Ohio State, UCLA and USC.



Each team will have two matches during the two-day event as both Ohio State and Penn State will play the two MPSF rivals UCLA and USC. In addition, this will likely be some of the season’s first matches between top-10 nationally ranked teams.

Penn State, USC and Ohio State all finished last season in the top 10 of the national coaches poll, while UCLA with a team primarily comprised of freshmen and sophomores was ranked No. 12.

The Nittany Lions in 2015 won their 17th consecutive EIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. However, Penn State will have to replace three graduated all-conference starters, including All-American outside attacker and 2015 Karch Kiraly Award winner Aaron Russell.

Similar to Penn State, USC will enter the season attempting to replace graduated four-time All-American setter and back-to-back Lloy Ball Award recipient Micah Christenson. The Trojans, though, return a majority of starters after reaching the MPSF Tournament semifinals.

Ohio State ended last season advancing to the MIVA Tournament semifinals and had three regular season victories against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Among the starters returning for the Buckeyes includes Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team outside attacker Nicholas Szerszen.

This will be the first time that MPSF teams have traveled to play a road non-conference match against Penn State since 2011, which was the last time the Nittany Lions played host to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State last season also ended a seven-match losing streak to both UCLA and USC that dated back to 2009.