April 18, 2018

Buckeyes Move on to Third Straight MIVA Tournament Finals


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State is heading to its third consecutive MIVA Championship Match after out-lasting 10th-ranked Lewis University (19-11) in a roller coaster five-set contest (25-9, 25-17, 22-25, 20-25, 15-8). The No. 7 Buckeyes improve to 22-5 overall and will host No. 8 Loyola Chicago Saturday night inside St. John Arena with a ticket to the NCAA Championships on the line.

Ohio State not only split the season series against the Ramblers, but also shared the 2018 MIVA regular season crown. Saturday night will settle the score for ’18.

Buckeye senior Nicolas Szerszen became Ohio State’s career leader in kills with his fourth kill of the night, running his career total past Steve Potter’s 1,602 (1992-95). Szerszen is now the top gun in school history for kills, points and aces.

Head coach Pete Hanson is one win away from becoming just the third coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history to reach 700 total career victories. He owns an overall record of 699-339 (.673) and could join Al Scates (UCLA, 1963-2012; 1,239 wins) and Don Shondell (Ball State, 1964, 1966-98; 769 wins) in the 700-Win Club on Saturday. Ranking fourth on the all-time list is Fort Wayne’s Arnie Ball (1981-2015) with 574 triumphs.

Blake Leeson and Jake Hanes each set career highs for blocks, posting 10 and seven rejections, respectively. Overall, the Buckeyes racked up 16.0 team blocks in limiting Lewis to a .148 team hitting efficiency. Twelve of Ohio State’s stuffs came in the first two sets, strangling the Flyer offense into the negatives for hitting efficiency entering Set 3.

SET 1: Ohio State maintained a slim one-point edge early in the match at 7-6. Nine straight for the Buckeyes followed, bursting to a 16-6 lead. Momentum continued throughout an 18-3 set-closing run (25-9). The stat sheet was dominated by Ohio State, out-killing the Flyers 13-2 and sending back five blocks for a .579 to minus-.300 hitting percentage advantage.

SET 2: Little changed in the second as Ohio State led wire-to-wire in a 25-17 winner. Hanes was a monster, drilling six kills and contributing four block assists. Leeson had four blocks in Set 1 and came back with three more in the second stanza. The Buckeyes registered seven swats in total, garnering a two-sets-to-none upper hand in less than 50 minutes.

SET 3-4: The next two frames witnessed 23 tied scores and six lead changes as the Flyers erased any notions of a short evening. Lewis picked up 25-22 and 25-20 triumphs to force a decisive fifth set.

SET 5: Szerszen, who was having a bit of an ‘off’ night offensively, rose to the occasion in the fifth, bouncing each of his first two swings to push Ohio State ahead 2-1. Hanes would make a big impact by set’s end as well, delivering consecutive aces to stretch the lead to 7-3. Nick Laffin and Szerszen also tallied aces, the latest of which came from Szerszen and shoved Lewis into its final timeout at 13-7. Two Flyer blunders then handed Ohio State its spot in the MIVA Finals as 15-8 victors.