February 20, 2019

Top-10 Foes Coming to Town This Week


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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (5-9, 1-3 MIVA) faces the top of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association standings this week, welcoming in No. 10 Lewis University (11-4, 4-0 MIVA) on Thursday (Feb. 21) at 7 p.m. ET and the seventh-ranked Ramblers of Loyola University Chicago (11-3, 4-0 MIVA) for a 2 p.m. match aired to national audience on the Big Ten Network.

The Buckeyes began playing both Chicagoland opponents in the mid-90s upon their entry into the MIVA. Ohio State leads the all-time series over both Lewis (35-21) and Loyola Chicago (37-20). St. John Arena has not been kind to either the Flyers (10-22) nor the Ramblers (4-25). The 2018 regular season ledger with both sides was split ‘home and home’ before the Buckeyes took a rubber match in the MIVA Tournament Semifinals (3-2 over Lewis) and Finals (3-0 over Loyola Chicago) inside venerable St. John Arena.

Lewis, Loyola Chicago and Ohio State have combined to claim the last 21 straight MIVA regular season titles with the lone exception being a co-championship shared by Ball State and the Ramblers in 2002. That anomaly was sandwiched by vacated crowns for Lewis in 2001 and 2003.

Blake Leeson carried the Buckeyes to a road win last week, hammering home 16 kills on 23 errorless attempts at Quincy. The studly performance raised his season attack efficiency to .512 (99-14-166), ranking fourth nationally. That .512 hitting percentage would also slot him fourth all-time in Ohio State history for a single season.

As injuries have ravaged the Buckeye roster this season, a large contingency of fresh faces have been called on to provide a heavy work load. A total of seven first-year Buckeyes (five freshmen, two sophomore transfers) have seen significant action thus far and have produced 47% of the team’s assists (265), 34% of the blocks (54), 29% of the service aces (20), 28% of the points (211.0), 27% of the kills (163) and 25% of the digs (100).

Ohio State Men’s Volleyball hosts conference foe Loyola Chicago on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast live to a national audience on the Big Ten Network. The contest was originally schedule for the day prior.

No active player in D I-II NCAA Men’s Volleyball has played in more matches or has a higher career hitting percentage than Blake Leeson. The fifth-year Buckeye senior has logged 109 matches and is attacking .461 for his career. He also ranks third among active players with 350 blocks, just nine stuffs back from UC Irvine’s Scott Stadick and his 359 rejections entering the week.

In terms of Buckeye lore, Leeson has made an impression in the OSU record books as well. He enters the week ranked top-12 in hitting percentage (4th, 461), solo blocks (9th, 60), block assists (12th, 290) and total blocks (12th, 350).

Pete Hanson will be among a group of 25 volleyball legends and stars of the sport who will be inducted into the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame as presented at the Dorothy C. Boyce Banquet on May 22 in Columbus, Ohio.

Enshrinement is nothing new for the Ohio State head coach, previously inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame (2017) and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame (2015).