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Men’s volleyball: Ohio State advances to conference semis

Ohio State senior setter Christy Blough sets the middle for redshirt sophomore Blake Leeson against Quincy on April 15 at St. John Arena. Credit: Aliyyah Jackson | Lantern reporter

The No. 2 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (28-2, 17-0 MIVA) is headed to the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Semifinals after downing Quincy University (7-22, 2-14 MIVA) in straight sets. After meeting three times, Saturday’s win was OSU’s first sweep of the Quincy Hawks this season.

In OSU’s shortest match of the season, OSU’s offense was aided in large part by junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen. Szerszen, who was named MIVA Player of the Year on Tuesday, led the team with 13 kills on 19 errorless attempts.

“I think that Nic Szerszen playing like the player of the year kind of really helped us step up and win it in three,” senior middle blocker Driss Guessous said. “I think when he has a good game, it’s a lot easier for all of us to play better.”

After stringing together four straight points to begin the first set, the Buckeyes controlled the lead throughout the set. The Hawks were only able to score back-to-back points on one occasion in the first frame, losing 14-25.

The Hawks struggled to get points on offense, with the team hitting at a rate of .045 in the set. On the other side of the net, the Buckeyes had a .522 attacking efficiency. Senior opposite Miles Johnson and Szerszen combined to give the Buckeyes three aces in the set.

“I commended Nicolas after the match,” head coach Pete Hanson said. “I thought Nicolas was the guy who set the tone in that regard that he just played, I thought, a relentless match tonight.”

Much like the first set, the Hawks never saw a lead in the second set, trailing by as much as six points midway through the second set. A 5-1 run helped the Hawks battle back make the score 13-15, but they ultimately fell to the Buckeyes 20-25.

In the second set, the Buckeyes improved their attacking rate to .526 and stuffed the Hawks on six occasions. Senior setter Christy Blough accounted for two blocks on his own. The Hawks hit better in the second set as well with the team improving to a .263 hitting rate.

“What we talked about in the locker room or what I asked them to do was to play as hard and with as much energy as we could from the time the whistle blew to the time the play was over,” Hanson said. “Whether we made a mistake or not was kind of immaterial, but it was about our effort. It was about our commitment to making a lot of plays.”

After a short intermission, OSU led 11-3 with Quincy’s only points coming from Buckeye service errors. The rest of the set mirrored the beginning and OSU took the third frame 25-15.

The Hawks were unable to find an answer on offense in their final set of the season. The team paired six kills with six attacking errors. OSU, on the other hand, had 13 kills and two attacking errors to close out the match.

With the win, the Buckeyes move on to the MIVA Semifinals and face either No. 11 Ball State University or No. 12 Loyola University, Chicago. First serve is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in St. John Arena.

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