Feb. 19, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 6 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team, guided by setter Christy Blough, launched an attack from the pins to sweep by Grand Canyon in three sets. The Buckeyes attacked .500 or better in each of the first two sets and .418 for the match on the strength of 38 Blough assists.
Outside hitters Nicolas Szerszen and Miles Johnson combined for 30 of the squad’s 44 kills, attacking at individual rates of .727 and .409, respectively. Szerszen, a three-time MIVA Offensive Player of the Week honoree in 2016, exploded for 16 kills on 22 errorless swings while the reigning MIVA Offensive and AVCA National Player of the Week winner (Johnson) dropped in 14 kills (five errors) on 22 attempts of his own. Ohio State produced significant points from the service line, too, ripping seven aces from six different players.
Blough also found success in limited sets to his middles as Matt Dorn and Blake Leeson paired up for seven kills at a .313 clip. Leeson’s largest contribution was on the defensive front, however, chipping in four block assists.
Szerszen’s stellar night began right away, terminating his first five attempts for kills. He would go on to tally seven first-set kills in total, pushing the Buckeyes to a .571 team hitting efficiency. Grand Canyon had it going as well early on, leading 8-7 in the opening frame. Three of the next five points ended on Szerszen kills though, and Ohio State jumped ahead for good. The Buckeyes later rattled off five straight tallies to wrap it up, 25-17.
Neither side could build an advantage of more than three points throughout set number two. Not surprisingly, it took more than 25 points to close this one out. Knotted at 23-23, three Szerszen kills outweighed an OSU service blunder to squeeze the Buckeyes into intermission on a 26-24 triumph.
It was 15-3 before anyone blinked in the third set following a long baseline stay from Christian Franceschi serving seven consecutive points. The Antelopes mounted a valiant comeback effort, slicing their deficit in half at 18-12 and ultimately closing the gap to within five points twice. Ohio State’s upper hand proved insurmountable by set’s end, however, concluding in 25-18 victorious fashion for the Scarlet & Gray.
These same two teams meet again Saturday night. Same time (7 p.m. ), Same place (St. John Arena).