April 1, 2016
LEBANON, Ill. – For the third time in as many all-time meetings, Ohio State bested McKendree in four sets. In the first of two conference clashes with the Bearcats this weekend, the Buckeyes garnered a 25-19, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22 victory to secure their 13th consecutive win overall and running their season ledgers to 21-3 and 12-1 in MIVA action.
Ohio State terminated 55 of 100 total attempts and committed only a dozen errors to post a .430 team attacking efficiency. Christy Blough averaged over 12 assists per set, launching an aerial assault from the pins. He connected with outside/opposite hitters Christian Franceschi, Miles Johnson and Nicolas Szerszen for a combined 42 kills, each swinging at a .433 or better clip. Szerszen led the group with 17 put-aways and a .448 hitting percentage while Johnson finished right behind at .433 and 16 kills. Franceschi added four service aces to his nine kills and .438 attacking pace.
The Buckeye middles also got going as Driss Guessous and Blake Leeson both bounced six kills on just 19 shots combined. Szerszen reached double-double status by adding a team-high 10 digs. Blough, Gabriel Domecus and Franceschi contributed matching totals of eight digs.
The first timeout of the evening came at 14-9 in the opening set, called by the Bearcats following a 5-1 run from Ohio State. Szerszen’s ace splitting a pair of McKendree teammates was the last straw and caused the break in action. Once play resumed it was virtually even the remainder of the frame. A solo stuff from Johnson tacked on one more tally to Ohio State’s advantage and closed the door at 25-19.
Intermission witnessed a one-set-apiece stalemate after Ohio State dropped set number two, 25-20. The Buckeye hiccup was quickly remedied in the subsequent period, a 25-17 drubbing by the Scarlet & Gray. Johnson and Szerszen paired up to bounce 10 of 13 errorless attacks and power the Buckeyes to a .542 team hitting efficiency.
Momentum movement continued in the fourth. The Bearcats surged out to a 5-1 upper hand, forcing Ohio State to burn a timeout. Franceschi then sparked the Buckeye comeback, responsible for four of the next five points on two kills and back-to-back aces. Moments later, Ohio State would string together another lopsided stretch, grabbing six of seven rallies to pull ahead for good at 14-10. Franceschi popped up again late, handing his squad ‘match point’ on a kill running the score to 24-22. A Bearcat blocking blunder ensued the very next point, putting an end to the night 25-22.
Same two teams. Same gym. Same time, Saturday night when Ohio State and McKendree meet again for another 8 p.m. ET conference showdown.