March 15, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 9 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (13-4) jumps out of MIVA play this week to face Penn State (10-7) and Saint Francis (8-13) on the road. The Buckeyes scrap with the Nittany Lions Friday (March 16) before hitting up the Red Flash on Saturday (March 17). Both contests are scheduled for 7 p.m. ET starts.
HISTORY WITH THE NITTANY LIONS AND RED FLASH
Penn State owns a 72-40-1 upper hand in the all-time series, but recent history has tilted in favor of the Buckeyes as winners in five of the last seven meetings. Ohio State has found much success versus Saint Francis over the years, arising victorious in 32 of 33 contests including a current 13-match winning streak. The Buckeyes handed both squads an ‘L’ earlier this season, sweeping past Saint Francis (25-23, 25-21, 25-21) on Jan. 28 and doing the same to Penn State three days later (25-19, 25-15, 25-17).
OFFENSE HEATING UP
The Buckeye attack is rolling into form as of late and it shows in the national statistical rankings. Ohio State is now slotted in the Top-5 nationally and leads the MIVA for kills per set (13.06), hitting percentage (.336) and aces per set (1.77).
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Ohio State is amid a five-week stint competing away from home which began on Feb. 22. The Buckeyes will play eight matches overall during the stretch before returning to the friendly confines of St. John Arena. The home of Ohio State men’s volleyball was treated the Buckeyes well over the last 50-plus seasons, serving as the stage for a 551-104 (.841) all-time home record.
NO ONE COMPARES WITH SZERSZEN
Senior Buckeye Nicolas Szerszen is not only the NCAA’s active career leader in kills and service aces, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of the next closest player. His 1,460 kills are nearly 300 clear of second-best Tanner Syftestad from UC San Diego at 1,161 kills. From the service stripe, Szerszen has sniped the opposition 201 times while King College’s Nick Drooker ranks second at 164 career service aces.
`SUNNY’ STEERING THE OFFENSE
Sanil `Sunny’ Thomas is the new sheriff in town when it comes to running the Ohio State offense, taking control of full-time setting duties this season. The junior from Tinley Park, Ill., is averaging 11.03 assists per set through the first 17 matches, the second-highest average in the country.
HANES EMERGES AS LETHAL WEAPON
Redshirt freshman Jake Hanes is making waves nationally as one of the NCAA’s top offensive forces through the first two-thirds of the season. He has stepped into the role of opposite hitter vacated by All-American Miles Johnson‘s graduation, filing in admirably.
Hanes entered the week pacing the conference and among the Top-20 nationally for kills, points and aces: 4.77 points/set (3rd in NCAA), 4.02 kills/set (5th), .46 aces/set (16th).