Heading into the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament as the top seed, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team could easily grow complacent.
The No. 10 Buckeyes have won 10 consecutive matches, including a 3-0 win against tonight’s opponent, No. 13 Ball State.
“We ended up beating three rivals to end the season,” said middle hitter Kevin Heine, “so the team is feeling pretty confident.”
By winning the regular-season conference title for the fourth consecutive season, OSU earned a first-round bye in the quarterfinals and will host the semifinal match.
Many players agreed that this was a big advantage, as they will get to play in front of their home crowd and won’t have to travel.
The Buckeyes may also have the most talent in the conference. Redshirt junior Steven Kehoe was named the MIVA Player of the Year. He and three other Buckeyes are also members of the all-conference team, tied for the most from one school.
Additionally, coach Pete Hanson was named the MIVA Co-Coach of the Year.
While all the signs point to success in the tournament, the team knows it can’t take anything for granted.
“We have a pretty healthy respect for our opponents,” Kehoe said.
From here on out, any mistakes could result in the end of the season.
“We know that every game is a must win,” Heine said.
In order to advance to the NCAA championship in May, the Buckeyes basically must win the MIVA tournament.
The NCAA championship features the three conference winners and one at-large bid, but should they lose, the Buckeyes likely would not receive the at-large bid.
The Buckeyes did not let the extra time off due to the bye go to waste.
“We had a really good focus at practice,” Heine said.
The team spent last week working on its own skills and going back to the basics, sophomore Shawn Sangrey said.
This week, practices shifted focus to preparing specifically for their next opponent Ball State, redshirt junior John Klanac said.
The Buckeyes also understand that the entire team needs to play well for it to succeed.
“Everyone understood their roles on the team,” Kehoe said.
Especially at the end of the long season, the rest of the team is there to pick each other up when someone isn’t playing to their potential, Klanac said.
“We don’t let anyone slack off,” Sangrey said.
The Buckeyes face Ball State tonight at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.