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Champions no more: Ohio State men’s volleyball falls short in title defense

Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor

The road to a second consecutive NCAA National Championship title is over for the Ohio State men’s volleyball team, and three seniors have hung up their scarlet and gray jerseys for the final time.
The No. 1-seeded Buckeyes fell to No. 2-seeded Lewis in five sets in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament championship game Saturday, (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, 15-10), at St. John Arena.
OSU coach Pete Hanson credited the Flyers after his team’s national title defense ended.
“It was just two good teams playing a good match of volleyball, and they made a couple plays at the end and we didn’t,” he said. “I thought our kids battled all night long and had some chances, but just didn’t convert.”
Flyers coach Dan Friend said he has done everything he could during his 15 years at Lewis to keep the program near the top of the MIVA, and playing against a team like OSU was a “thrilling” way to end the conference season.
“They are champions. We had to know we have to play our ultimate best game of volleyball against them in order to beat them on their home floor, and that’s what it took us to do (Saturday),” Friend said.
OSU freshman outside hitter Michael Henchy tallied 15 kills and said he and his teammates gave everything they had for the seniors on the team.
“I knew (Saturday) we were playing for our seniors and we couldn’t let it go easy,” he said. “I knew I had to go out there and play like an upperclassman.”
As for the three seniors, opposite Shawn Sangrey and outside hitters Mik Berzins and Anthony Hock, their careers as Buckeyes ended. Hanson said he understands it’s difficult, but he reminded them of the four years of success they had and how high they have set the bar for future Buckeyes.
“They can’t think (Saturday) was what their whole career’s all about because a year ago at this time, we were celebrating being national champions and those guys were a part of that,” Hanson said.
Hanson said the worst part about coaching Sangrey, an All-American and 2012 MIVA Player of the Year, was that he only got four years with him.
“It’s been a dream come true, (Sangrey) is such a wonderful young man and he gives you his best day in and day out,” Hanson said. “He’s the kind of guy that if I had daughters, I’d want them to marry, but I don’t have daughters.”
Sangrey led all players with 31 kills while redshirt freshman setter Peter Heinen racked up 63 assists. Junior middle blocker Grayson Overman and redshirt junior middle blocker John Tholen each added nine kills. Tholen led the Scarlet and Gray with three blocks.
The Flyers received the conference’s automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships, Thursday through Saturday.

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