Jan. 15, 2016

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 7 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team drilled 43 kills at a .397 attacking pace in a sweep over George Mason Friday night in St. John Arena. Nicolas Szerszen, a sophomore outside hitter, accounted for 18 kills individually with a lone error on 22 attempts; recording a career-high .773 hitting efficiency.

Szerszen, the reigning MIVA Offensive Player of the Week, made an early claim to maintaining his crown as the conference’s top attacker with the 18 put-aways; all while chipping in a match-high nine digs as well. Christian Franceschi was also responsible for double-digit points, connecting on seven kills, two aces and two block assists. Christy Blough steered the offense via 38 assists and terminated a kill on his own.

On the defensive side of the net, Blake Leeson was the star of the evening. The Mequon, Wis., native got in on five of six Buckeye blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs. He wasn’t too shabby offensively either, smacking six kills on seven errorless attempts. As a team, the Buckeyes out-dug GMU 26-18. Matt Dorn, making his first career start, dug two balls and tallied three kills.

The Buckeyes withstood a barrage of five Patriot aces in the opening set by blistering 17 kills at .519 clip. Blough divvied up 16 assists, hooking up with Szerszen for seven kills on each of seven sets sent Szerszen’s way. Ohio State stretched its lead to as many as seven points at 15-8 before deflecting a late Patriot flurry to secure a 25-22 winner.

Ohio State shored up its serve-receive operation in the second stanza, successfully handling all of George Mason’s serves with no reception errors. A kill from Szerszen broke up the 16-16 stalemate and ignited a five-point run vaulting the Buckeyes ahead for good en route to a 25-19 triumph.

In set number three, Szerszen nearly matched his 7-for-7 attacking line from the first frame; coming up a lone error shy with a six-kills-one-error-seven-attempts effort (.714). Despite a .417 team hitting percentage, Ohio State couldn’t shake off the Patriots until late in the frame. George Mason sat one point back at 23-22 prior to a service error followed by Szerszen’ 18th termination to wrap it up 25-22.

St. John Arena re-opens its doors again Saturday night at 7 p.m. when the Buckeyes play host to Erskine College.