AVCA Showcase Recap (Thursday, January 18, 2018)

Brandon Johnson | Off the Block special contributor

Match Info
– AVCA Men’s Volleyball Showcase Tournament
– Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
– Ohio State def USC 3-1 (25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21)

The #3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes opened up the 2018 AVCA Showcase Tournament with a convincing four set win over the USC Trojans at Pauley Pavilion. Set scores were 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21.

Nicolas Szerszen led the way with 17 kills, three aces and six digs, as the Buckeyes shook off a lackluster third set to pick up an important neutral court victory. Pauley Pavilion will be the host site of the NCAA Championship in early May. Ohio State will return to action on Saturday to face host UCLA to close out the tournament.

“We are a pretty young team this year”, Szerszen said. “We are trying to find ourselves right now…I thought today was a good win.”

Sanil Thomas, in his first year as the starting setter for OSU, handed out 44 assists and led the Buckeyes to a .327 hitting efficiency. Blake Leeson shook off his first hitting error of the season to finish with seven kills (.500) to go along with five blocks. Jake Hanes came off the bench and fired back-to-back aces to end the match.


Jack Wyett had a huge match for the Trojans, firing 18 kills and hitting .424. Ryan Moss chipped in 12 kills and Chris Hall dished out 39 assists.

Match Info
– AVCA Men’s Volleyball Showcase Tournament
– Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
– UCLA def Penn State 3-1 (25-15, 19-25, 25-20, 22-22)

Behind the strong play of setter Micah Ma’a and dominant middle attacking, the host UCLA Bruins closed out Penn State in four sets in the nightcap of the 2018 AVCA Showcase Tournament. Set Scores were 25-15, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22.

Ma’a racked 42 assists and six digs while setting the Bruins to a .359 hitting efficiency. Middle Blockers Daenan Gyimah (eight kills) and Oliver Martin (seven kills) combined for 15 kills and one error on 20 swings (.700).

Despite the win against a top 10 opponent, Ma’a is looking forward to the closing match of the showcase. “What’s there not to be excited about?” Ma’a said. “Those guys (Ohio State) are the defending National Champions, and we will never forget how they knocked us out [in 2016].”

The Buckeyes knocked off UCLA in the 2016 National Semifinals on the way to the first of their back-to-back national championships.

“That’s who you train for”, Ma’a added. “You go through everyone one game at a time, but it is nice to see their name coming up soon.”

Aidan Albrecht led Penn State with 13 kills, but the Nittany Lions hit just .186 for the match and we out blocked 11.5 to 4 by their counterparts.

Penn State will continue play at the AVCA Showcase when they take on USC on Saturday. First serve is set for 11:00 a.m. PST. Ohio State and UCLA will follow immediately after. Both matches will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Brandon Johnson is a special contributor for Off the Block. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of Off the Block.