March 5, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio State triumph combined with a Grand Canyon victory over Ball State Saturday night lifted the Buckeyes atop the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association standings. The fifth-ranked Buckeyes are 15-3 overall and 9-1 in MIVA action, a `half game’ ahead of Ball State at 14-4, 8-1 MIVA. Ohio State’s latest win marked the fifth Top-15 opponent slayed this season, putting away 2015 MIVA champion and 13th-ranked Lewis University in four sets.
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 6, 2016
The Buckeyes have won 14 of 15 matches since January 8, bookending a five-set defeat with a pair of seven-match winning streaks. While 12 of 15 overall OSU wins this season have lasted just three sets, Saturday’s besting of the Flyers was a bit of a grinder. The nation’s most efficient offense executed at a sub-par .256 rate, but was backed by 11 Buckeye service aces.
Five different players contributed to the serving blitzkrieg, paced by Nicolas Szerszen’s four points from baseline. Blake Leeson and Miles Johnson accounted for multiple aces as well, recording three and two, respectively. Johnson’s 21.5 points on 18 kills, three block assists and two aces were tops in the match. Gabriel Domecus and Christian Franceschi took care of much of the defensive backrow dirty work, registering 10 digs apiece.
Ohio State seized its first advantage at 2-1 in the opening frame and would not trail again until set number three. Despite a constant upper hand, the Buckeyes struggled to create distance from Lewis in the first; eventually taking it 25-22. The second stanza was a different story as Ohio State exploded to a 5-0 edge and went on to steamroll the Flyers 25-14. After lacking a block in Set 1, OSU stuffed Lewis three times within the first four points to open up Set 2. Ohio State also lit up from the service line to the tune of seven aces.
Fourteen tied scores and six lead changes told the story of set number three, a knock-down, drag-out affair which saw the first three set-point opportunities foiled. Lewis eventually put an end to it at 28-26 on a solo stuff extending the contest into a fourth frame.
Johnson came alive in a big way for the fourth, blistering eight kills on 14 errorless attempts. Much like the first period, Ohio State grabbed an edge early on and held it steady throughout in a 25-22 winner.
The next month sends Ohio State on the road for seven consecutive matches away from St. John Arena before finally returning on April 5th vs. Penn State live on the Big Ten Network.