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Ohio State men’s volleyball making sweeping a habit

Members of the OSU men’s volleyball team celebrate during a game against George Mason at St John Arena on Jan. 15. Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

Members of the OSU men’s volleyball team celebrate during a game against George Mason at St John Arena on Jan. 15. Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

The Ohio State men’s volleyball team won its fourth straight match Friday night, dispatching  Coker College in straight sets (25-11, 25-15, 25-23) at St. John Arena. The three-set defeat of the Cobras was no anomaly, as all of the Buckeyes’ wins on their current winning streak have come by way of sweeps.

The stellar play of late from the Buckeyes comes after they dropped two of their first three matches, with losses at McMaster University and against UCLA at a neutral site of State College, Pennsylvania.  

“The Canadian team, McMaster, is the No. 1 team in Canada and we schedule those teams for a reason, and that is to challenge our guys and learn about our team,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said after the win over the Cobras. “We learned a lot of things.”

The Buckeyes’ only other loss came against UCLA, which is now the top-ranked team in the United States.

“When we do the things that we talk about — pass the ball to our setter, let our setter run a basic offense, guys take good swings — we see a high level of success,” Hanson said.

A big factor in the Buckeyes’ resurgence has been the play of sophomore Nicolas Szerszen. Just last week, Szerszen won the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association’s Offensive Player of the Week award.

It marked the fourth time Szerszen has earned the award, doing so twice as a freshman and twice already in 2015-16 — just three weeks into his sophomore season.

“That’s a guy that takes a lot of pressure off a lot of other people on the floor,” assistant coach Tim Embaugh said of Szerszen. “It’s a lot like having Kobe Bryant on your team.”

In both its losses, OSU attacked at an average of .173. But in their five wins, the Buckeyes haven’t had an attack percentage below .347, which came against Princeton in the second game of the year.

OSU redshirt sophomore middle blocker Matt Dorn (15) prepares to hits the ball during a game against George Mason at St John Arena on Jan. 15. Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

OSU redshirt sophomore middle blocker Matt Dorn (15) prepares to hits the ball during a game against George Mason at St John Arena on Jan. 15. Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

Throughout the four-game win streak, OSU has attacked north of .400 twice — .474 against USC and .429 versus Erskine.

The increased offensive efficiency equaling victories is no coincidence.

The Scarlet and Gray look to continue this improved offensive attack on Friday, as they are set to head on the road to take on Quincy University. The Hawks now sit at 4-4, after dropping their first four games of the season.

Quincy won a pair of games over the weekend to keep its momentum building as it heads into its clash with OSU. After taking on the Hawks, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel a little further west to St. Charles, Missouri, to square off with Lindenwood.

With back-to-back games looming on the horizon, OSU took necessary steps to make sure the team is near full strength to keep up with improved level of play.

“We are letting a couple of guys rest up over the weekend,” Hanson said. “Right now, the goal is just to manage the bodies, make sure everyone is as healthy as they can be and we will get back in the gym on Monday and start to gameplan for the two upcoming opponents.”

After their two-game road trip, the Buckeyes are slated to return to Columbus to take on Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on Feb. 4.

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