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Jan. 23, 2015

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Miles Johnson returned after a two-match absence and delivered 13 kills, nine digs and four service aces as the No. 13 Buckeyes (5-2) defeated George Mason in four sets (25-18, 25-16, 21-25, 25-22). Nicolas Szerszen inflicted massive damage as well, ripping a career high 20 aces at a .500 attacking clip (20-3-34) to serve the Patriots their fifth straight loss to a nationally-ranked opponent.

Szerszen’s dynamic performance followed a similar effort last week against Limestone. In the last two matches combined he is averaging 4.50 kills per set and swinging at a .593 rate (36-4-54). Sophomore setter Christy Blough fed Shawn Herron a few sets in the middle as well, resulting in seven kills on 10 errorless swings. Herron’s season attacking efficiency rose to .481 (47-10-77).

Lead changes were few and far between all night long, exchanging hands just three times total and no later than 13 points into a set. Johnson smacked a kill to open up the first frame and Ohio State never looked back in leading the entire 25-18 triumph. Szerszen obliterated six of 10 attempts for kills while Johnson provided four digs and three terminations.

George Mason was quickly knocked off its 1-0 perch in set number two, losing control of its only lead in the frame. Ohio State seized eight of the next 10 points to force a Patriot timeout at 8-3. The Buckeyes swung over .400 for the second straight set and cruised to a 25-16 winner, reaching intermission in just 49 minutes.

Paco Velez lit a fire under the Patriots for the third set, putting away six of eight swings. George Mason attacked .571 as a team and put down the Buckeyes 25-21, posting a sideout percentage of 76 percent. Ohio State made several late pushes, closing within a lone point at 20-19, 21-20 and 22-21 before ultimately dropping the set.

While the first three sets were lopsided one way or the other, set number four was anything but. The largest lead of the set was four tallies in favor of Ohio State at 17-13. The score got locked up on six occasions before OSU closed the door and notched a 25-22 clincher.

As mentioned earlier, Ohio State returns to the St. John Arena court on Sunday, taking on Pfeiffer University at 4 pm ET.