Feb. 12, 2016
CHICAGO, Ill. — The No. 9 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team entered the Loyola Ramblers lair and slayed the two-time defending NCAA national champions in quick fashion, securing a three-set sweep (25-22, 25-19, 25-22). The Buckeyes move to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in MIVA play while No. 5 Loyola falls to 7-3, 2-1.
Miles Johnson served as the lead knight, inflicting 25.5 points worth of damage on the night. He terminated 21 kills on 29 attempts with just three errors (.621) while adding four service aces and a block assist. In addition, the Carlsbad, Calif., native recorded a double-double by digging a team-high 10 balls. Christy Blough tossed up 39 assists in total, averaging 13 per set. Nicolas Szerszen got in on nine kills and an OSU trio of Matt Dorn, Christian Franceschi and Blake Leeson each tallied five put-aways.
Offensive numbers flew off the board on both sides of the net, evidenced by attacking percentages of .395 for the Buckeyes and .341 by Loyola. Ohio State inflated its NCAA-best* season hitting efficiency to .363 and elevated the aces rate to 1.95/set (top-3 in the country). *includes NCAA matches only — McMaster match not included
Set number one was as tightly-contested with 12 tied scores and four lead changes. The first multi-point edge didn’t occur until 9-7 in favor of the Ramblers and the biggest advantage all set-long was the three-point final ledger of 25-22 going to the Buckeyes. Johnson got it going right away, bouncing seven kills and a pair of aces in the opening frame. Head coach Pete Hanson utilized a timeout trailing 19-17 and his OSU charges responded by snagging the next five points to gain a 22-19 upper hand. That three-point cushion stuck when Johnson’s ninth point sealed the deal, 25-22.
Blough steered a more balance onslaught in set number two, pairing with four different teammates for multiple kills. Another five-point Buckeye run proved to be the turning point in the second stanza, much like the first. Just as he had the previous set, Leeson ignited the Buckeye burst with a kill. This spurt flipped a 12-11 deficit into a 16-12 stronghold the Buckeyes would not relinquish, heading to intermission up two-sets-to-none after a 25-19 winner.
Ohio State then raced out to a 10-3 lead in the third frame. The Buckeye blitzkrieg included eight kills and a Franceschi ace. The Ramblers would claw their way back into it, but were unable to overcome Johnson’s emphatic closing act of 11 kills. As a whole, the Buckeyes attacked .516 in the final frame, further aided by a `six-kills-on-12-errorless-swings’ combined effort from Franceschi and Szerszen. By set’s end, victory was in hand for the Scarlet & Gray, 25-22.
The Buckeyes are back at it Saturday (Feb. 13) night, continuing the Illinois road trip in Romeoville to take on No. 14 Lewis University.