Jan. 5, 2016
PRINCETON, N.J. – The No. 6 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (1-1) began a three-matches-in-four-days road trip by disposing of the Princeton Tigers (0-1) in 72 minutes. Ohio State outscored the host school by a combined 19 points on the night (25-17, 25-19,25-20).
The Buckeye offense revved its engine to the tune of 38 kills and a .347 attacking percentage, including hitting efficiencies above .420 in each of the first two frames. Nicolas Szerszen paced all comers with 14 kills; doing so on 26 attempts with just five errors (.346). Fellow outside hitters, Miles Johnson and Christian Franceschi, chipped in a combined 10 kills while Driss Guessous terminated seven balls in the final two sets. Ohio State inflicted damage from the service stripe as well, rifling in eight aces overall.
Defensively, the Buckeyes limited Princeton to a .182 hitting percentage and less than nine kills per set. Blake Leeson assisted on four of six team blocks and Szerszen dug a team-best four balls.
Szerszen fired off the starting line and gave OSU a lead it would not relinquish in the first frame. His first of seven kills in the opening set handed the Buckeyes an advantage maintained throughout the 25-17 triumph. Franceschi made his first start as a Buckeye and bounced each of his three swings for kills in the first set. Johnson was a perfect 2-for-2 on the offensive, too, as Ohio State rolled to a .450 team attacking effort.
Christy Blough continued to navigate an offensive onslaught in set number two, dishing out 10 assists and steering the Buckeyes to a .423 attacking rate. Szerszen remained hot with five kills on eight errorless swings while Guessous connected for the kill on all four attempts. Ohio State took the lead, 7-6, on a Guessous put-away and never looked back en route to a 25-19 winner.
Just as they had in the second stanza, the Buckeyes quickly erased an early 2-0 deficit and slowly distanced themselves from Princeton in the third frame. While the OSU offense slowed a bit, defensive performance increased considerably. The Buckeyes rejected four Tiger attack attempts, powered by three Blough block assists. Princeton mustered a lowly .130 hitting percentage and the Buckeyes sealed the deal 25-20 to secure a true road win.
The Scarlet & Gray next travel to Happy Valley for neutral site contests against No. 5 UCLA (Thursday) and No. 12 USC (Friday) hosted by Penn State University.