Ezeonu leads No. 9/9 Penn State to upset No. 1/1 Ohio State

Photo courtesy of Penn State athletics

Middle attacker Toby Ezeonu and Penn State made sure Ohio State’s reign at No. 1 would be short-lived.

Ezeonu finished with a team-high 14 kills on a .500 attack percentage as No. 9/9 Penn State defeated No. 1/1 Ohio State 25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 29-27 on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

This non-conference upset comes days after the Buckeyes moved to No. 1 in both the national coaches poll and national media poll. Ohio State (6-1, 0-0 MIVA) jumped in the rankings following a victory against then-No. 1/1 UCLA during the weekend.

Ezeonu finished with one attack error and did not have an error in the final two games against Ohio State.

The All-American opened the match with a game-high six kills in the first game, including back-to-back kills to close out the game and cap off a 4-0 run. Ezeonu in the fourth game overtime win also was able to extend the game with a kill when Ohio State had a game-point opportunity.


Penn State in the victory out-hit a short-handed Ohio State .341 to .200.

The Buckeyes were without All-American outside attacker Jacob Pasteur for the match. The 2023 Karch Kiraly Award winner is in the nation’s top 10 averaging both 4.19 kills per game and 0.65 aces per game.

The Nittany Lions (5-2, 0-0 EIVA) had four players with double-digit kills.

Outside attacker Michael Valenzi finished with 13 kills on a .379 attack percentage with a game-high seven kills in the final game. Opposite John Kerr contributed 12 kills, while outside attacker Michal Kowal had 10 kills.

Both Valenzi and Kowal also had back-to-back kills in the fourth-game overtime to complete the upset.

The Nittany Lions fought off three game-points in the fourth game. It also overcame a 5-0 deficit at the start of the game en route to securing a win against a No.1 ranked team for the second straight season.

Ohio State outside attacker Daniel Hurley in the loss finished with a match-high 16 kills and hit .303.

The Buckeyes entered this match on a six-match winning streak to open the season and were one of two remaining teams in the MIVA.