Feb. 8, 2018

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 5 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (8-2, 1-0 MIVA) erased a two-sets-to-one deficit Thursday night to take its 2018 MIVA opener over Ball State (5-6, 0-1 MIVA). The final scoreboard read: 21-25, 25-13, 18-25, 27-25, 15-10.

Sanil Thomas handed out 55 assists in guiding Ohio State to a .319 team hitting percentage. Nick Laffin and Blake Leeson combined for nine kills on 17 attempts from the middle while Maxime Hervoir and Nicolas Szerszen attacked from the pins and back row. Hervoir swung .400 with 19 kills and Szerszen garnered 15 kills at a .333 attacking clip. Both Frenchmen recorded double-doubles, digging 10 and 13 balls, respectively. Leeson and Laffin took care of the heavy lifting up front on the defensive side, totaling three solo blocks and pairing with a teammate for a block assist eight more times.

SET 1: Tied at 17-all late in the first frame, Ohio State fell off the rails. Six of the Cardinals next eight points came via Buckeye blunders (four attack errors, two service errors). In fairness, Ball State did force a pair of the OSU errors by throwing up blocks. In the end, it was an 8-4 Cardinal run to conclude the set at 25-21.

SET 2: Leeson went bonkers in the second, responsible for nine points on four kills, four blocks (two solo) and two service snipes. Jake Hanes and Szerszen provided the complimentary offense, tacking on seven kills. Locked up at 6-6, Leeson began his onslaught with a kill to lift Ohio State ahead for good. He then kept the pedal to the metal by terminating each of his next three swings for kills to go along with back-to-back aces and all four blocks coming from that point forward. Fittingly, Leeson stuffed Ball State’s Ben Chinnici for each of the final two points of a lopsided 25-13 final tally. The Buckeyes grabbed 15 of 20 rallies to close the door.

SET 3: Despite the evening’s most tied scores (12) and lead changes (3), set number three got away from Ohio State in the latter stages and ended with a seven-point winning margin for the Cardinals. Ball State was victorious on 12 of the final 17 points to corral a 25-18 winner.

SET 4: Ball State kept it coming to kick off the fourth, owners of 5-1 and 7-2 leads. Looking bleak, the Buckeyes charged back in a hurry to change to set’s trajectory. Thomas leaned on Hervoir during the surge, connecting with his outside hitter for three kills in fast order and a half dozen times by set’s end. Hanes stepped up as well, putting away five kills. Defensive efforts were crucial as well in this one, powered by seven Szerszen digs and four Laffin rejections. The Cardinals earned the first match-point opportunity, however, turned away by an Hervoir bouncer to even the ledger at 24-24. Two points later, Hanes and Laffin teamed up to send back a BSU attempt and thwart the Cardinals’ second match-point chance. Laffin enlisted the help of Thomas for another block in the subsequent rally before a ball handling error from Ball State extended the tilt into a fifth set, 27-25.

SET 5: Ohio State came alive from the baseline in the fifth, delivering four aces compared to a lone error. A lengthy serving stint from Thomas virtually sealed the deal, stretching an 11-9 edge to 14-9 and setting up the Buckeyes with five shots at slamming the door shot. Ohio State converted on the second go-around, coming to end on Leeson’s booming kill at 15-10.

The Scarlet & Gray return to St. John Arena on Saturday (Feb. 10) for a 7 p.m. ET showdown against No. 14 Fort Wayne (9-1).