Seventh-ranked UCLA won its first match of the season on Thursday night going the distance to defeat #11 Penn State in five sets in the opening match of the Outrigger Hotels Invitational in Honolulu. The Bruins battled back from a 2-1 deficit to pull out sets four and five in a thrilling 25-15, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14 victory.
UCLA used four straight aces by freshman Mitch Stahl (tying Adam Naeve’s school record) to open up an early lead in set one. The Bruins pulled away to a 16-8 lead and were ahead 19-9 before putting the Nittany Lions away 25-21.
Set two was tied at 11, 17 and 19. PSU broke out to a 21-19 advantage. UCLA closed to 22-21 but could not get closer and the Lions evened the match with a 25-22 win.
The third set was back and forth early before Penn State forced a Bruin time out after taking an 11-8 lead. UCLA rebounded to tie the score at 14-all on a block by Trent Kersten and a kill by Jackson Bantle. The score was then knotted up at 18 and 19 before Penn State took a 21-19 edge. The Bruins closed to 24-23 but the Lions earned the set-deciding point for the 2-1 lead.
UCLA jumped out to a 5-1 lead in set four. PSU clawed its way back in to the set and narrowed the Bruin margin to two at 18-16. UCLA maintained a 20-18 lead, moved it out to 24-21, before a tip kill by Kersten kept the match going.
The fifth set turned in to the Robart Page show. A Page kill tied the score at 6. Another Page spike gave the Bruins the lead at 8-7. The senior added two more kills later which made it 10-9 Bruins. After Penn State evened things up at 12-all, Gonzalo Quiroga answered for a 13-12 UCLA lead. Points from Bantle and Spencer Rowe handed UCLA the 16-14 win.
Page finished with a career-high 23 kills while hitting .525 and added 11 digs and five blocks. Quiroga totaled 15 kills and Kersten added eight kills and six blocks. Setter Steve O’Dell registered 52 set assists. Libero Ian Sequeira recorded 11 digs.
The Bruins will continue play in the Invitational on Friday night with a match against 12th-ranked Ohio State. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT