NOTE: Ohio State men’s volleyball will close out the regular season by hosting Mercyhurst at 7 p.m. Saturday night in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes will host the MIVA Tournament semifinals, April 24, and the Tournament Championship match, April 26 in St. John Arena.
By Kendra Lee, Ohio State Athletic Communications
OhioState boasts a reputation of providing its students with many opportunities to be successful. With 36 varsity sports, students not only have the chance to participate, but are also given the resources to experience that stage of life on a whole new level.
Being one of only 22 Division I programs in the United States, the OhioState men’s volleyball team is a prime example of an excellent opportunity. The program owns a rich history of success on many levels and provides its athletes the chance to be a part of something unique. For the team’s three seniors, the many possibilities to succeed were something that could not be passed up.
“I wanted to be a Buckeye because, as a men’s volleyball player, you don’t really have the opportunity to play at a big time school like OhioState,” Dan Mathews, senior setter, said. “It doesn’t matter what sport, to have the chance to play at this school and be a part of a successful program is something a person should be proud of.”
Mathews, along with fellow seniors Brett Versen and Conor Martin, have provided the Buckeyes with a great level of experience and talent throughout the years. The trio has a total of 84 wins under their belt so far and each has played important roles in the success of the team.
As a four-year starter, Mathews has become one of OhioState’s most decorated setters. The Shorewood, Wis., native has earned esteemed honors, such as the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Freshman of the Year in 2005 and Player of the Year in 2007. The two-time All-American is third overall in career assists (5,105) and has proven his versatility, being in the Top 10 in career blocks, aces and digs.
Martin has served as one of the team’s top defensive players at the libero position during his four years. The native of Avon Lake, Ohio currently sits third all-time in career digs with 711 and is listed in the Top 10 in a handful of OhioState’s defensive categories. For Martin, coming to OSU was an opportunity to good to be true.
“To play here and be a part of a program like OhioState was too much to pass up,” Martin said. “I made the best decision when I chose to come to OhioState.”
Versen has developed into one of the group’s go-to hitters and this season, has experienced great success at the net. The outside hitter from Centerville, Ohio has led the team in kills in 11 games this season. Versen has compiled 17 games with double-digit kills, including three with 20 or more.
The group has experienced a successful four-year run that included the 2007 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season championship. But among the numerous achievements obtained, the trio is yearning for a collegiate athlete’s ultimate goal a national title.
“We got a taste of the Final Four our freshman year and that really makes us hungry for it even more,” Versen said. “We want to not only get there, but also be competitive and win.”
“Knowing that this is our last opportunity to be at that next step makes getting there mean so much more,” Mathews said. “We have a great team and have a great chance of going to the Final Four. It is going to take a lot of hard work and determination.”
The accomplishments achieved as athletes have had an immense impact on their lives. However, the opportunities to learn not only in school, but in life and to make life-long friendships and memories are greater then anything received on the court.
“Having the opportunity to make great friendships is something I won’t forget,” Versen said. “Once I do graduate, I know we will all still be good friends and remember all the time we spent on and off the court.”
“I’ve learned that hard work pays off,” Martin said. “Nothing is going to come easy and there will be obstacles in the way, but you need to work hard and put in the time to persevere in order to reach your goals.”
“Being on the team, I have been given a chance to gain a stronger sense of who I am,” Mathews stated. “Learning how to balance athletics and academics, while still maintaining my friendships are the most important things I have learned.”