January 11, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State (0-0) begins season No. 32 of men’s volleyball this week with a road match at Penn State (1-0) on Tuesday and then will host Brigham Young (2-0) in back-to-back matches this weekend. The Buckeyes, who finished sixth in the final 1998 USA TODAY/AVCA Coaches Poll, will host the Cougars on Friday and Saturday night in St. John Arena (13,276) at 7 p.m.


%^$Ohio State returns five of six starters from last season’s squad that finished with a 25-2 overall record, a perfect 10-0 mark in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, a No. 1 ranking in the final Volleyball Magazine and the highest ever ranking of No. 2 in the USA TODAY/AVCA Coaches Poll in the final weeks of the season.


%^$The Nittany Lions opened their season going undefeated (4-0) in the Nittany Lion Invitational. Penn State defeated Niagara (15-2, 15-7, 15-2), Windsor (15-5, 15-6, 15-7), Wilfrid Laurier (15-5, 15-7, 15-9) and Sherbrooke (15-4, 15-12, 15-4) in the two-day event. PSU was 17-15 last season and was ranked 15th in the USA TODAY/AVCA Coaches Poll. Last season the Buckeyes won at Penn State 3-1 (15-7, 15-4, 9-15, 15-6).


%^$The Cougars opened the 1999 season with two wins over UC Irvine. Last weekend, BYU defeated Irvine 15-11, 15-9, 7-15, 15-5 on Friday and 15-4, 15-7, 15-13 on Saturday. Brigham Young was 16-6 last season and finished ranked seventh in the USA TODAY/AVCA Coaches Poll.


%^$Angel Aja was named a first team and Rene’ Esteves, second team, AVCA all-American in 1998. In addition, Volleyball Magazine honored Aja on their second team, graduated senior Jeff Koterba on the third team and Esteves as an honorable mention selection. Coach Pete Hanson was named by the magazine as their Coach of the Year. Hanson was also named the MIVA Coach of the Year. Other league honors included Aja, Esteves and Koterba being named to the all-MIVA first team and Colin McMillan selected to the season team.


%^$The Buckeyes had six players honored as academic all-Big Ten selections last season. They included Colin McMillan, Rene’ Esteves, Angel Aja, Chris Fash, Greg Lehman and Jeff Koterba. Additionally, the above players and Ross McLain were recognized as Ohio State Scholar-Athletes.


%^$Outside hitter Phil Kerewich is the lone senior on the 14-player roster. He was twice named the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Player of the Week and was the MIVA leader in digs with a 2.92 average last season.


%^$Angel Aja, a first team AVCA all-American last season, will direct the Buckeye offense. He averaged 18.42 assists per game last season, ranking second in the country. He also contributed 124 digs, 68 blocks and 18 assists a year ago.


%^$Colin McMillan (136) and Rene’ Esteves (141) combined for 277 blocks last season. Esteves was a second team AVCA all-American and McMillan was selected to the all-MIVA second team. The duo tops the Buckeyes in career hitting with McMillan at .474 and Esteves, .454.


%^$The Buckeyes were the top team in the country last season in hitting percentage at .365. NCAA champion UCLA was second at .353.

%^$A LOOK BACK AT 1998

%^$Ohio State finished last season with a disappointing four-game loss to Loyola in the MIVA Semifinals. Prior to that, the Buckeyes had won 22 consecutive matches including a four-game victory over then No. 1 Pepperdine in Malibu. The only other loss suffered by the Buckeyes was a close four-game decision at Stanford early in the season.


%^$In his 15th year at Ohio State, Pete Hanson has put together one of the top men’s volleyball teams in the country. Ranked second in the country in the latter stages of the season, his squad finished sixth in the USA TODAY/AVCA Coaches Poll. They were also honored as the top team in the final regular season Volleyball Magazine Poll. That magazine honored Hanson as the Coach of the Year for his 25-2 season and MIVA regular season championship.

%^$Hanson has a 15-year career record of 276-199 (.581) and is 262-187 (.584) in his 14-year tenure with the Buckeyes. His squads have won six MIVA championships and made three NCAA tournament appearances. Hanson has been named the MIVA Coach of the Year four times including last season.


%^$Ohio State continues at home next week when they open play in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association by hosting Ball State on Thursday, Jan. 21 and Mercyhurst on Wednesday, Jan. 27.