Stockton, Calif. – For the second time in as many weeks the Pacific men's volleyball team will square off on the road with an opponent that played in last year's national championship game. This time the Tigers will battle the reigning national champion, and tenth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at the Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational in Columbus, Ohio at 4:30 p.m. PST on Jan. 27. The following day Pacific's test will not be any easier when they take on the eighth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions at 2 p.m. PST in Columbus.
The Tigers (3-3, 2-2):
No. 12 Pacific will continue play after splitting a pair of games against now No. 15 UC Santa Barbara and No. 3 UCLA. Against the national runner-up from a year ago, UCSB, the Tigers dominated the net collecting 19 blocks, including 11 in the first set of a 3-1 match victory. In the final set the Tigers hit .556, with 15 kills on 27 attacks without an error. The following night was more difficult for Pacific as they dropped the match 3-0. However, the Tigers stayed in the match for most of the night before falling to the Bruins.
Pacific will look to build on its reputation as one of the premiere blocking teams in the country. The Tigers have out-blocked their opponents 69.5-39, and have six players with double-digit blocks on the season. Leading the Pacific defense is senior Sean Daley with 32 total blocks, including seven solos. Junior Christian Ahlin is not far behind with four block solos and 23 total. Also, juniors Taylor Hughes and Patrick Tunnell have recorded 19 and 16 blocks, respectively. Rounding out Tiger blockers in the double-digits is sophomore Adam Troy with 12 and senior Florian Gornik with 10.
The Tiger attack has been impressive all season with the help of sophomore libero Javier Caceres and setter Tunnell. Caceres from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico has a team-high 43 digs, while Tunnell has added 197 assists for the Pacific offense. Once set up by the duo, sending balls to the floor is led by the combination of Hughes, Gornik and Troy. Hughes leads all attackers with 63 kills, followed by Gornik's 58 attacks while hitting .395. Troy, in just 13 sets played has turned up his game in recent matches adding 36 point finishers.
Ohio State is will head to the tournament on a three-game winning streak after defeating Sacred Heart, George Mason and Saint Francis in Columbus. Ohio State is led by Shawn Sangrey and Mik Berzins who have recorded 121 and 74 kills, respectively, on the young season. Sangrey is hitting .235, with a team-high 50 digs and 19 blocks. Leading the Buckeye defense is Grayson Overman with 29 blocks including four solos.
The Nittany Lions (2-1, 0-0):