April 2, 2016
LEBANON, Ill. – The No. 2 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team moved one step closer to what would be its conference-best 25th Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season championship. The Buckeyes are now just two wins away from clinching the title after departing McKendree University’s gym with a pair of MIVA wins. Ohio State sits 22-3 overall, 13-1 in MIVA action and rides a 14-match winning streak.
For the second straight night, Ohio State blistered more than 50 kills and six service aces while attacking at a highly-efficient rate (.478). Christy Blough connected with three different teammates for double-digit kills. Miles Johnson paced all comers with 17 put-aways and a .586 hitting percentage. Christian Franceschi attacked .450 en route to a dozen kills while Nicolas Szerszen’s 11 terminations came at a .348 clip. Blake Leeson got it done on 11 attempts, finishing off seven for kills. He also contributed to four of eight team blocks.
The match script read much the same as Friday night — Ohio State victorious in Sets 1, 3 and 4. In four all-time meetings against McKendree, the Buckeyes have secured 3-1 triumphs each time.
Ohio State’s electrifying offense took a back seat to the team’s defensive efforts in the opening frame. The Buckeyes threw up three blocks and dug eight balls, holding the Bearcats to a .138 attacking percentage. Blough and Matt Dorn teamed up for a pair of rejections while Szerszen took care of business on his own with a solo swat mid-set to push Ohio State ahead 16-11. The gap increased by a tally from there, resulting in a 25-19 OSU winner.
Five different Buckeyes chipped in multiple kills for set number two. And despite Johnson and Szerszen each putting forth five kills, Ohio State couldn’t keep up with the Bearcats. McKendree attacked .565 and out-dug the Buckeyes, 14-5, in a match-tying 25-21 second stanza.
Ohio State raced out to a 4-0 edge in the third and never looked back; cruising to a 25-18 final ledger. As if the Buckeyes third-set hitting efficiency of .579 wasn’t impressive enough, they one-upped themselves in the fourth by swinging .650 as a team. Johnson was the largest factor, scoring on seven of 10 errorless attempts. The rest of the squad was close behind, combining for seven kills on 10 attempts with a lone error. Ohio State blocking re-emerged as well in the final frame, stuffing the Bearcats thrice again. McKendree actually held an early upper hand, however, climbing atop 9-6. A subsequent service gaffe then opened the door and sparked a 7-1 Buckeye run to flip the advantage in favor of Ohio State at 13-10. The Scarlet & Gray would tack on two more tallies to its lead by set’s end, wrapping up the evening as 25-20 victors.
The Big Ten Network comes to town Tuesday (April 5) night when Ohio State ends its month-long hiatus from St. John Arena for an 8 p.m. match versus No. 11 Penn State.