The fifth-ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team took over possession of first place in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association this weekend, after wins against two ranked opponents.
“There’s always been a target on Ohio State volleyball,” junior Shawn Sangrey said. “We tell each other every day we gotta stay focused because everyone wants to beat us, conference and non-conference.”
The Buckeyes (14-2, 7-0 MIVA) defeated No. 14 Lewis (12-5, 3-2) Friday and 12th-ranked Loyola-Chicago (12-4, 5-1) Saturday at St. John Arena.
“You gotta defend your home floor in this conference,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said. “Then you gotta go steal a couple on the road if you wanna be able to host this thing at the end and have your crowd behind you and your momentum and that sort of thing.”
On Friday, the Buckeyes swept Lewis, 3-0, winning, 25-22, 25-20, and, 25-17. On Saturday, the Buckeyes dropped a set, winning, 3-1, with scores of 25-18, 25-17, 21-25 and 25-21.
“Loyola decided to just change the pace of the game,” Hanson said. “We’re not a great team at receiving the float serve. Teams can score with some of the off-speed stuff, but over time it’s probably not gonna be enough.”
Sangrey, just one of the many offensive weapons in the Buckeyes’ arsenal, had a match-high 20-point performance against Lewis.
“The great thing about us is we aren’t limited in our options,” fifth-year senior Steven Kehoe said. “Any one guy can take over a match for us, which really makes it tough on the opponent.”
On Saturday, Kehoe was the hero, hitting big power serves that resulted in two aces, giving the Buckeyes breathing room to finish off the match.
“I saw that a couple points earlier our guys had gone after their libero (a defensive specialist) and he struggled with a couple balls,” Kehoe said. “So I wanted to hit my best serve at him and it just worked out for us.”
The Buckeyes are a veteran squad with four fifth-year seniors on the team, helping them stay focused and prepared throughout the season.
“We’ve been playing together for a while,” Sangrey said. “We know each others’ weaknesses and strengths, and we work towards that to become better.”
The Buckeyes host Ball State at 7 p.m. Friday at St. John Arena.
“We’ve put ourselves in as good a position as you can be,” Hanson said, “if we take care of things next Friday.”