Columbus, Ohio – The 11th-ranked Ohio State (19-7 overall, 11-1 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) men’s volleyball squad closed out regular season conference play with a 3-0 (30-26, 30-26, 30-19) sweep of 15th-ranked Ball State (17-10, 6-5) Friday night in St. John Arena. The win gives the Buckeyes a least a share of the regular season championship, their fourth consecutive title. Loyola-Chicago (18-4, 10-1) can share the regular season championship with a win Saturday at Ball State. Ohio State does earn the No. 1 seed in the MIVA Tournament and receives a bye in the quarterfinals, April 24. OSU earns the home court for one semifinal match, April 28 and with a semifinal win would host the tournament championship match, May 1. In the match, OSU’s Shawn Sangrey posted a match-high 20 points with 17 kills (.250), one solo block and two assist blocks. John Klanac added 18.5 points with 18 kills (.481) and one assist block. Ball State’s Eric Schulte recorded a team-high 13. 5 points with 12 kills (.450) and three assist blocks. J.D. Gasparovic added 11 points for the Cardinals with seven kills (.385), one ace serve and six assist blocks.
Ball State held a 2-1 lead in game one, but two Cardinal errors and OSU kills from Ted Schoenfeldt and Klanac gave the Buckeyes a 5-2 lead. Trailing, 19-15, an OSU error, an Ethan Pheister ace serve, a Lee Meyer block and a kill by Gasparovic tied the game at 19. A Klanac kill gave OSU a 20-19 lead. A Schulte kill and a Meyer ace serve gave Ball State a 21-20 lead. At 22-21 Ball State, a Klanac kill tied the game at 22. A Schoenfeldt-Steven Kehoe block gave OSU a 23-22 edge. Schulte, with a kill, tied the game at 23. At 24-all, a kill from Pheister gave Ball State a 25-24 lead. After an OSU timeout, a Sangrey kill, a Cardinal error and a Sangrey solo block gave OSU a 27-25 lead. Following a Ball State timeout, a kill by Sangrey and an OSU error made it 28-26. A Sangrey kill gave Ohio State game point at 29-26. The Buckeyes won the game, 30-26 with a Sangrey kill to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Ohio State hit .281 for the game to .156 for Ball State.
Tied at two in game two, a kill and ace serve from Sangrey, two Cardinal errors and one from OSU opened a 6-3 Buckeye lead. With OSU leading, 11-10, a Klanac kill and two BSU errors gave OSU a 14-10 lead. An OSU error and a Schulte kill cut the lead to 14-12. At 21-19, a Klanac kill and a Schoenfeldt ace serve made the lead four at 23-19. Trailing, 26-22, Ball State cut the margin to two at 26-24 with a Dominic Spadavecchio kill and a Larry Wrather-Gasparovic block. Kills from Wrather and Klanac made it 27-25. Kills from Schoenfeldt and Schulte made it 28-26. The Buckeyes reached game point at 29-26 with a kill from Klanac. A Cardinal error ended the game at 30-26 to give Ohio State a 2-0 lead in the match. The Buckeyes hit .286 for the game to .259 for Ball State.
Two Cardinal errors and a Kehoe ace serve opened game three for the Buckeyes. After an Anders Nelson kill, OSU kills from Kevin Heine and Sangrey and a Jason Tobkin ace serve gave the Buckeyes a 6-1 lead. At 9-4, two Cardinal errors gave OSU a seven-point lead at 11-4. At 15-9, a BSU error and a Kehoe ace serve expanded the lead to 17-9. Kills from Gasparovic and Klanac and a Schoenfeldt solo block gave Ohio State a 19-10 lead. A Buckeye error and a Matt Sprague-Nelson block cut the margin to 19-12. A Jason Tobkin kill and a Cardinal error made it 21-12. At 23-14, kills from Sangrey and Klanac made it 25-14. Two kills from Gasparovic and two from Klanac made it 27-16. Two Buckeye errors moved the score to 27-18. A kill from Klanac made it 28-18. Errors by both team made it 29-19 with Ohio State serving match point. A Cardinal error ended the game at 30-19 for a 3-0 Buckeye sweep. Ohio State hit .400 for the game to .050 for Ball State.
For the match, Ohio State hit .318 to .139 for Ball State. The Buckeyes had a 46-34 margin in kills and a 45-29 advantage in assists. OSU’s Kehoe posted a match-high 45 assists to 27 for BSU’s Pheister. Ohio State had a 6-4 edge in ace serves with Kehoe posting a match-high three aces. Defensively, the Buckeyes had an 18-15 advantage in digs. Ball State’s Billy Ebel recorded a match-high seven digs with OSU’s Mik Berzins recording six. At the net, Ball State had a 14 to 6.5 margin in team blocks. Gasparovic posted a match-high seven total blocks for the Cardinals with a solo and six assist blocks.
Ohio State closes out the regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday by hosting St. Francis (12-13, 4-6 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) in St. John Arena.
Pete Hanson, Ohio State head coach
On what tonight‘s win means
“It (the win) means a lot of great things. I told the kids in the lockerroom before hand that I went through our record book and in the 42 year history of this program no Ohio State team has won four league titles in a row, so we did something that nobody else has done. And there have been some pretty dog-gone good teams at Ohio State over the years, two that played for a national championship. I talked to them about what their legacy is and the chance to leave a legacy and I think the kids took it to heart and they played with some passion and got their fourth championship and that is quite an accomplishment.”
On ending the third game decisively
“We talked about just playing our game and just doing the things well that we do well and that is serving the ball aggressively, being good offensively and just keeping pressure on teams. We’ve see that history the last two weekends and the last three matches. We’ve gotten up two to zero and we come back out and just stomped teams and that is pretty neat that they’ve got that focus and can come back and put an exclamation point on it.”
On who stood out tonight
“I thought John Klanac was really good and Steve Kehoe was really good. Both of our middles were good, even though we didn’t set them a bunch, they were good with their blocking. And Shawn Sangrey has just been really, really steady and so has Mik Berzins. It was just a team effort, every one of the guys played great. Mike (Stefani) and Jason (Tobkin) played that other position between the two of them and we got everything we needed out of that. It was just a great team effort.”
On preparation for the upcoming tournament at home
“I think the prep will be the next few days we’ll go back and review ourselves and watch some film and go, ‘okay, what can we get better at.’ We’re going to keep focusing on ourselves and dialing ourselves up a little bit. Once we know who our opponent is that following Monday, we’ll start to get ready for that team on Monday to get ready for that semi-final match. We did a nice job this last week and these past couple weeks so we’ll focus on ourselves and get our game better”