March 11, 2016
LONG BEACH, Calf. – The No. 5 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team notched its 16th victory of the season Friday night in a neutral-site tilt with No. 14 UC Irvine. Offensive efficiency reigned supreme for the Scarlet & Gray, attacking .417 as a team in the four-set (25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 25-17) triumph. The Buckeyes (16-3) take on top-ranked Long Beach State (17-2) Saturday evening at 7 p.m. PT/10 pm. ET to conclude the west coast trip.
Ohio State’s season-long winning streak stretched to eight consecutive wins; a run that has seen the Buckeyes seize 24 of 27 sets played since Feb. 12. Victorious ends have come to OSU in 15 of the last 16 contests overall.
Nicolas Szerszen paced all players with 25.5 points on 22 kills, five block assists and a service ace. He added in six digs and a .528 attacking percentage to his already impressive stat line. Driss Guessous was a large factor as well, putting away 11 kills at a .588 hitting clip and throwing up a season-high eight blocks (two solo stuffs). Ohio State out-blocked the Anteaters 12-5 as four different Buckeyes chipped in three or more total blocks.
Guessous got it going instantly, bouncing six kills on eight errorless swings in the opening set. He also paired up with Szerszen to reject a UC Irvine attack attempt, capping off Ohio State’s 4-0 spurt at 7-7 making it 11-7. The Buckeyes would go on to stretch their advantage to seven points finishing the set as 25-18 victors.
Despite a herculean effort from Szerszen in the second stanza, UC Irvine was able to even up the match at one set apiece. Szerszen’s eight kills and Blough’s 15 assists were spoiled by an elevated offensive onslaught from UC Irvine to the tune of a .500 team attacking percentage (16-2-28). The Anteaters pulled ahead for good at 9-8 and rode on to a 25-20 winner.
Szerszen kept the heat on during set number three with six kills, no errors, on nine attempts. Not to be outdone though, Miles Johnson connected for the kill on each of his six swings. Ohio State never trailed in the period, picking up a 25-21 win. Josh Tublin checked in to serve at 23-20 and swiftly honed in on his first career ace to give OSU a set-point opportunity. Though the Buckeyes failed to capitalize on the first try, Szerszen closed the door on the very next point with a set-clinching kill.
The non-conference clash was leaning towards a fifth frame with UC Irvine up 16-14 and the Buckeyes burning a timeout midway through the fourth. An Anteater service gaffe followed the break in action, however, and handed the ball to Tublin toeing the baseline once again. The Pittsburgh native’s second service stripe stint lasted the next eight volleys as Guessous and company conducted a blocking clinic with five swats during an 8-0 run mercifully ended via a UC Irvine kill. Ohio State then snagged the final three tallies after the quick aberration to wrap things up 25-17. The Buckeyes accumulated a whopping eight blocks in the final frame alone.
Ohio State is back at it again Saturday night (March 12), colliding with the No. 1 Long Beach State 49ers in their house. Match time is set for 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET.