Ohio State men’s volleyball is back on the big stage with its third-consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals.
The Buckeyes (22-7) are one game away from competing for the NCAA National Championship. First, though, they must face No. 1 Stanford Thursday night.
OSU will have to play on Stanford’s home court, a challenge the Buckeyes look forward to.
“It’s going to be the most fun match for us this year,” senior Steven Kehoe said. “Playing on a national stage, in front of the biggest crowd of the year, it’s going to be intense.”
The Buckeyes and Cardinals square off at 11 p.m. in a nationally televised match on ESPNU.
“Playing on ESPN, it doesn’t get any better than that,” senior John Klanac said.
The positive attitude comes from experience for the Bucks, having made it to the national semifinals the past two seasons.
Coach Pete Hanson said the past two seasons should help his team when facing tough competition.
The experience “helps you come back from a deficit, make extraordinary plays when you need to,” Hanson said.
That experience helped OSU get by Loyola-Chicago (20-6), which earned the Buckeyes a trip to the national semis.
OSU was down 2-1 before it gained momentum in games four and five, winning the match 3-2 (30-28, 25-30, 26-30, 30-20, 15-11).
Sophomore Shawn Sangrey started the comeback by “rattling them,” Hanson said, winning four of five serves that gave the Buckeyes control of the fourth set.
Sangrey later blocked three straight balls, described by Hanson as “demoralizing” for Loyola-Chicago.
“Sangrey boosted our entire team,” Kehoe said.
That boost gave the Buckeyes the momentum to close out the match.
“We became more relaxed and started playing our game,” Klanac said.
Sangrey said he looks forward to the challenge on Thursday night. He said he expects a rowdy crowd, but said if they prepare as if it is any other game and play their best volleyball, they will be able to get the momentum on their side and play for the national championship.
“We need to dig down and play with all we got,” he said.