LOS ANGELES – Ohio State’s pursuit of a national championship three-peat remains alive following a five-set (25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14) survival past UC Irvine (21-10) to reach the NCAA Semifinals. The Buckeyes (25-5) will face No. 1 seed Long Beach State (26-1) at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Thursday (May 3) inside Pauley Pavilion.
At least one lead change occurred in all five sets with 17 in total and 31 tied scores in the tightly-contested battle which took two hours and twenty-five minutes to complete. Just four total points separated the two foes (110-106).
? Ohio State improves to 16-22 overall in the NCAA Tournament
? Ohio State improves to 4-2 in NCAA Tournament five-setters
? Ohio State has won seven straight NCAA Tournament matches
? Ohio State has won 16 consecutive postseason matches
? Jake Hanes tied the all-time OSU match record with eight aces (Jason Tobkin, vs. Princeton in 2011)
? A dozen Buckeyes played in the match
Jake Hanes and Nicolas Szerszen each ripped 22 kills and combined for 53 total points. Hanes accounted for 30 tallies, adding the school-record eight services aces (see above under ‘BUCKEYE BITS’). Szerszen tacked on two block assists for a sum of 23 points. Hanes attacked at a .341 clip (22-8-41) while Szerzen came in at .439 (22-4-41). Nick Laffin made the most of his limited opportunities, terminating five of eight error-free swings (.625).
Szerszen paced the squad with 10 digs while Sanil Thomas led all Buckeyes with three blocks, including a crucial stuff of 6-foot-5 Aaron Koubi to set up match point at 15-14. The next point sealed the deal when Aaron Samarin’s diving dig led to a crosscourt, sideline-clipping kill for Szerszen to ignite the Buckeye celebration.
The fifth set alone witnessed 10 tied scores with the advantage flip-flopping back-and-forth five times. Neither squad could muster an edge greater than two points throughout the truncated set. Trailing 13-12, Ohio State was the beneficiary of a service blunder from UC Irvine to even the ledger at 13-all and send the teams to the benches for a timeout. Hanes emerged from the break in action to toe the service stripe, delivering his record-tying eighth ace. Though the Buckeyes failed on their first match point opportunity at 14-13, the aforementioned block and kill came next to close it out.