The Ohio State University men’s volleyball program hosts the NCAA Opening Round (Match 1) on Thursday (April 26) at 7 p.m. ET inside St. John Arena. The Buckeyes face King University with the victor advancing to take on UC Irvine (21-9) on May 1 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Both Ohio State and The Tornado enter the NCAA Championship event with overall season marks of 23-5.
HISTORY WITH THE TORNADO
There is none. Thursday marks the first ever meeting between the Buckeyes and King University.
BUCKEYES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Ohio State will make its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament Thursday night. The Buckeyes own a 14-22 overall record in the event and have won three of the last seven NCAA Championships (2011, 2016, 2017). Combined with Loyola Chicago (2014-15 champions), five of the last seven and four consecutive national titles have gone to teams in the Midwest.
SZERSZEN SLINGING ACES AT HISTORIC RATE
Nicolas Szerszen is one of the most lethal servers in NCAA men’s volleyball history. He enters the NCAA Tournament ranked fourth all-time with 232 service aces and has a legitmate shot at cracking the Top-3 during Thursday’s Opening Round contest.
Most Service Aces in NCAA History:
255 | Evan Patak, UC Santa Barbara (2004-07)
247 | Javier Placer, Springfield College (1993-96)
234 | Joseph Smalzer, Loyola Chicago (2001-14)
232 | Nicolas Szerszen, Ohio State (2015-18)
St. John Arena, the home of Ohio State men’s volleyball, has treated the Buckeyes well over the last 50-plus seasons, serving as the stage for a 556-104 (.842) all-time home record.
KINGS OF THE MIVA
Ohio State has hoisted a league-best 27 MIVA regular season trophies, followed by Ball State and its 21 championships. The next three in order are Fort Wayne (6), Loyola Chicago (5) and Lewis (4). The Buckeyes and Cardinals have combined to capture over 70 percent of the MIVA regular season trophies all-time.
The Buckeyes also own the most MIVA Tournament titles (17), three more than second-best Ball State’s 14. Ohio State has secured both the regular season and tournament crowns in each of the past three seasons (2016-18).
MIVA TOURNAMENT RUNDOWN
The 2018 MIVA Tournament `Most Outstanding Player’ was Nicolas Szerszen, earning the distinction for the second time in his career (also in 2016). He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Jake Hanes and Sanil Thomas as the Buckeyes defeated Quincy, Lewis and Loyola Chicago en route to the NCAA’s automatic bid.
HANSON REACHES ANOTHER MILESTONE
Head coach Pete Hanson became just the third coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history to reach 700 total career victories with Ohio State’s MIVA Finals win. He owns an overall record of 700-339 (.674) and joined Al Scates (UCLA, 1963-2012; 1,239 wins) and Don Shondell (Ball State, 1964, 1966-98; 769 wins) in the 700-Win Club. Ranking fourth on the all-time list is Fort Wayne’s Arnie Ball (1981-2015) with 574 triumphs.
SZERSZEN MAKES HISTORY, FIVE TOTAL BUCKEYES EARN ALL-MIVA HONORS
When named the 2018 MIVA Player of the Year, Nicolas Szerszen became the first student-athlete in conference history to earn three MIVA Player of the Year designations. Szerszen was also the conference’s top player in 2016 and 2017. He was joined on the All-MIVA First Team by teammates Maxime Hervoir and Sanil Thomas. Two more Buckeyes, Jake Hanes and Blake Leeson, were tabbed as All-MIVA Second Team members.
ALL HE DOES IS WIN, WIN, WIN
Assistant coach Kevin Burch has been on the coaching staff of an NCAA national championship program for seven consecutive seasons. He has not gone an entire academic year without bringing home NCAA hardware as a collegiate volleyball coaching staff member:
2016-17 – NCAA Men’s National Champions – Ohio State (assistant coach) | 32-2
2015-16 – NCAA Men’s National Champions – Ohio State (assistant coach) | 31-2
2014-15 – NCAA Women’s National Champions – Penn State (director of operations) | 34-2
2013-14 – NCAA D-III Men’s National Champions – Springfield College (assistant coach) | 27-8
2012-13 – NCAA Men’s National Champions – UC Irvine (assistant coach) | 25-7
2011-12 – NCAA D-III Men’s National Champions – Springfield College (assistant coach) | 33-5
2010-11 – NCAA Men’s National Champions – Ohio State (volunteer assistant coach) | 26-6
TAKING OVER THE OHIO STATE RECORD BOOKS
Nicolas Szerszen owns four all-time Ohio State career records: kills (1,626), points (1,969.5), service aces (232) and aces/set (.53). While his offensive output is the main attraction, Szerszen also ranks Top-3 for digs (757) in school history.
Maxime Hervoir, Blake Leeson and Sanil Thomas have etched their name into the OSU Record Books as well. Take an in-depth look at the Career Rankings on page 8 of the match notes linked above.
Ohio State remains ranked inside of the AVCA Coaches Poll Top-10 for the 42nd consecutive time this week. During that stretch which dates back over three years (Apr. 4, 2015), the Buckeyes were the No. 1-slotted team nearly 40% of the time (16 of 42 polls).
Last time outside the Top-10: April 4, 2015
Last time unranked (Top-15): Final poll of 2014
`SUNNY’ STEERING THE OFFENSE
Sanil `Sunny’ Thomas sits atop the country’s assists per set rankings, dishing out an NCAA-best 11.17 helpers per set. The Buckeye offense is attacking .340 under Thomas’ direction, ranking third nationally.
CONFERENCE’S TOP OFFENSE
Ohio State’s offensive attack is the best in the MIVA, pacing all conference schools in hitting percentage (.340), kills per set (13.30) and aces per set (1.82). The Buckeyes are slotted Top-4 nationally in all of those statistical categories. On the defensive side, Ohio State also leads the league by holding the opposition to a .203 team hitting percentage (fifth best in the NCAA).
NO ONE COMPARES WITH Nicolas Szerszen
Senior Buckeye Nicolas Szerszen is not only the NCAA’s active career leader in kills and service aces, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of the next closest player. His 1,626 kills are nearly 400 clear of second-best TJ DeFalco of Long Beach State at 1,261 kills. From the service stripe, Szerszen has sniped the opposition 232 times while Robert Poole (Mount Olive) ranks second with 180 career service aces. The 232 career aces represent the fourth most in NCAA history and third highest mark during the rally scoring era (2001-2018).
In addition, Szerszen is attacking at a .369 clip for his career, the best among all active outside hitters.