March 27, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 1 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (23-1) concludes its regular season non-conference slate on the road at the site of both NCAA titles in 2011 and 2016, heading east to face Big Ten brethren and 13th-ranked Penn State (13-8) Tuesday night (March 27) at 7 p.m. ET. It marks the first of three matches this week for the Scarlet & Gray, also playing host to McKendree (9-16) over the weekend (March 31-April 1). Ohio State has registered 20 straight wins in true road matches, last suffering a loss in an opponent’s home gym back in 2015.
The NCAA released the first national Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings of the season last week (March 20) and Ohio State was slotted at the top. The Buckeyes are No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll as well, picking up 21 of 24 first-place votes this week.
MIVA MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO ‘5’
The Buckeyes are in search of their conference-best 26th Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season title. With four league matches to go, Ohio State owns a three-game lead in the loss column and the team’s magic number to capture the ’17 conference crown is down to ‘1.’ The Buckeyes have secured 27 consecutive victories versus MIVA opponents.
HISTORY WITH THE NITTANY LIONS
Despite Ohio State winning five of the last six meetings, including a 3-0 sweep earlier this season (Jan. 24) inside St. John Arena, Penn State owns a 72-39-1 all-time edge in a series which dates back to 1971.
CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS ON SALE NOW
All-session tickets for the 2017 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship are ON SALE NOW. Ohio’s capital city has laid claim to the title of ‘Volleyball Capital of the Midwest,’ becoming the first site in NCAA history to host both the women’s and men’s collegiate national championship in the same academic year in addition to a long history of hosting amateur volleyball events. The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship was held Dec. 15-17, 2016 downtown at Nationwide Arena with the men’s trophy being awarded May 4-6, 2017 inside St. John Arena.
Ohio State not only owns the country’s best win-lose percentage (.958; 23-1), but is slotted highly in nearly every statistical category as well. The Buckeyes rank second nationally in hitting percentage (.369) and aces (1.89/set) while also slotted Top-10 with a .194 opponent hitting percentage (4th), 12.30 assists/set (5th), 13.26 kills/set (5th) and 2.45 blocks/set (7th).
Individually, four Buckeyes rank Top-20 in an NCAA statistical category:
• Nicolas Szerszen | .65 aces/set (1st), 4.69 points/set (8th), 3.83 kills/set (9th), .389 hitting percentage (14th)
• Christy Blough | 10.53 assists/set (3rd)
• Miles Johnson | 4.81 points/set (5th), 3.93 kill/set (8th), .43 aces/set (13th), .356 hitting percentage (18th)
• Blake Leeson | 1.00 blocks/set (19th)
Pete Hanson has roamed the sideline as Ohio State men’s volleyball head coach for more than three decades and on March 18 at Lewis he coached his 1,000th career match as the Buckeye leader. In 1,000 contests, Hanson owns an overall winning percentage of .667 (668-334) which includes a 292-90 (.764) ledger in MIVA play. The four-time National Coach of the Year has guided OSU to a pair of NCAA titles, 16 MIVA regular season championships and 11 MIVA Tournament trophies since taking over the helm in 1985.
TOP OF THE HEAP
Ohio State was positioned atop the AVCA Coaches Poll for 11 consecutive weeks (2016 final poll through March 6, 2017). That stretch marked just the seventh time since 1986, when the AVCA first released a weekly poll, in which a team has manned the top spot for 11 weeks in a row. The Buckeyes returned to the mountain’s peak as the No. 1 team once again this week (March 27).