March 25, 2016
MUNCIE, Ind. – The top-ranked Ohio State University men’s volleyball team seized sole possession of first place in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association standings by departing Worthen Arena as four-set victors over No. 9 Ball State (17-6, 9-2 MIVA). In their first match as the nation’s No. 1 squad, the Buckeyes (19-3, 10-1 MIVA) topped the Cardinals 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-15 for an 11th consecutive win overall. Ohio State’s lone defeat in the last 18 contests came against Ball State on Feb. 6.
The Buckeyes attacked efficiently from the middle as Driss Guessous and Blake Leeson combined for 19 kills and just two errors on 28 total attempts. Guessous terminated 10 of 16 errorless swings (.625) while Leeson connected for nine kills at a .583 attacking clip. The redshirt freshman from Wisconsin added four blocks and a dig to his final stat line as well.
While Nicolas Szerszen finished a bit below his season hitting percentage, he made up for it with four service aces to register a team-high 19 points. In addition, Szerszen’s 10 digs were matched by Miles Johnson and surpassed only by Gabriel Domecus’ match-best 15 digs.
Ball State’s Peter Swartz missed the mark on the night’s opening serve, handing Ohio State a 1-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Cardinals pulled even five times but failed to ever overcome OSU in a 25-22 final tally. Christy Blough tabled his 15th assist of the set to close it out, hooking up with Guessous for a set-clinching kill.
A four-block effort by Ball State derailed the Buckeye attack in set number two. Ohio State’s hitting percentage dipped to .100 and the Scarlet & Gray mustered a side-out percentage of 58 percent. Three of the Cards rejections occurred during a mid-set four-point which converted a 9-7 lead into a 13-7 gap the Buckeyes couldn’t close. Intermission witnessed a set apiece stalemate following Ball State’s 25-21 second-set winner.
Szerszen heated up in the third, bouncing six kills and digging five balls. Blough took advantage of superb OSU passing, delivering 16 assists and guiding the Buckeyes to an 82 percent side-out rate. Ohio State racked up 13 digs as a team, containing the Cardinals to a .240 attacking efficiency. Similar to the first, Ohio State jumped ahead 1-0 and never looked back en route to a 25-22 triumph.
Ohio State kept the pressure on for set number four, siding out at an 80 percent clip and rolling to the 25-15 clincher. Tied at 2-2 early on, the Buckeyes constructed an 11-2 run to grab an insurmountable 13-4 upper hand. Ohio State would tack on another tally to its final set advantage, outscoring the Cardinals by 10 tallies in the final frame.
The Buckeyes are back at it again Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET, traveling to Fort Wayne for a duel with the IPFW Mastodons.