March 26, 2016
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Ohio State concluded its first week as the nation’s top-ranked squad by capturing its 12th straight win, 20th overall and taking a stronghold on the MIVA standings lead at 11-1 in conference play following a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 27-25, 25-22) at IPFW (9-15, 2-10 MIVA). The Buckeyes (20-3) attacked .452 and connected on a half dozen service aces to overpower the Mastodons Saturday (March 26) evening.
After an `off’ night from outside hitters Miles Johnson and Nicolas Szerszen Friday at Ball State, the Buckeye duo flipped the switch back `ON’ against the Mastodons. Szerszen whacked 19 kills at a .557 hitting clip while Johnson provided 13 kills on 20 attempts with five errors (.400). Middles Blake Leeson and Driss Guessous kept it coming strong for the second straight match. Leeson terminated eight of nine errorless swings and Guessous posted a .385 attacking efficiency on six kills. Christy Blough steered the ship, divvying up 46 assists in total.
Offensive fireworks lit up right off the bat in set number one. The Mastodons attacked .545 with 13 kills, but were one-upped by a .615, 18-kill performance from Ohio State. Haymakers were exchanged and the score sat tied 12 different times. The Buckeyes eventually pulled ahead for good at 20-19 en route to a 25-23 triumph.
Szerszen exploded in the second stanza, rocking 10 kills in the set alone. His offensive outburst was needed throughout, too, in a 27-25 OSU winner. His ninth kill denied an IPFW set-point opportunity, the third such chance fended off by Ohio State in the set, and evened the tally at 25-all. Christian Franceschi then ripped an ace before Szerszen accounted for the 27th point via another kill.
Blough continued to stir the drink in Set 3, assisting on 13 of Ohio State’s 15 kills, during a .435 team attacking effort. An IPFW hitting blunder opened the period in which the Buckeyes would never trail. Ohio State would go on to build a lead as large as five points and ultimately secure the match 25-22.
McKendree University plays host to the Scarlet & Gray next weekend (April 1-2) for a pair of 8 p.m. ET contests in Lebanon, Ill.