The No. 1 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (9-0) inched closer to rewriting the school record books, going 2-0 this weekend against Barton College (3-3) and No. 4 Long Beach State University (7-2) on Friday and Saturday night at St. John Arena. The pair of wins tied the school record of 32 straight victories, a record that dates back 47 years.
The last time the Buckeyes lost was Feb. 6, 2016 when they lost to the Ball State at home last season.
The Buckeyes swept the Barton Bulldogs in three sets (25-21, 25-14, 25-17). Thirteen Buckeyes saw the court on Friday, including sophomore setter Sanil Thomas, who had his first start of the season and led in assists with 37.
“My role is usually coming off the bench, coming in for a play or two,” Thomas said. “Coming out it adds a little more pressure to you, but by practices and the coaches’ confidence in you, it kind of alleviates that pressure on you as well.”
After trailing 11-8, the Buckeyes went on a 5-0 run to gain the lead in the first set. Senior opposite Miles Johnson lead the team with eight kills while the team combined for five total blocks in the set.
Midway through the second set, Johnson had his 123rd career service ace, one that put the Buckeyes up 14-9. With the ace, Johnson tied the school record for career aces which was set by Steve Potter from 1992 to 1995.
Junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen ripped four straight kills and Thomas closed the second set for the Buckeyes with a service ace. OSU attacked at a rate of 52.6, committing only two attacking errors in the set.
Despite having three underclassmen on the court during the third set, OSU managed to go on an 11-point run to put the Buckeyes up 17-7. One final service error from Barton’s sophomore outside hitter Vasilis Mandilaris gave the Buckeyes their final point of the match to win 25-17.
Long Beach State
On Saturday night, the Buckeyes beat the Long Beach State 49ers in four sets (25-22, 24-26, 25-21, 26-24) to tie the school consecutive wins record.
OSU had complete control of the first set, leading 22-15. The Buckeyes were able to withstand a 7-2 run before they put the set away, 25-22.
Johnson led the Buckeyes with eight kills in the first set, hitting at a rate of .462, while senior setter Christy Blough had 12 assists. The Buckeyes never trailed the 49ers in first set.
Johnson, at the beginning of the second set, served his 124th career ace to break the school record and put the Buckeyes on top 6-4. The score remained close throughout the second set, ending in a 49ers’ win in extra points, 26-24.
The loss for the Buckeyes ended its 21-set win streak. Hitting was the difference for the 49ers as they attacked at .375 rate.
“[Long Beach State] definitely stepped up in the back line. They were serving pretty tough and they were actually pretty good out of system too,” Szerszen said. “In general, they’re a really good team and causes a lot trouble.”
After two straight aces during OSU’s six-point run, Szerszen joined his teammate Johnson in history as he tied him in career aces at the beginning of the third set. After being down by as much as seven points, a late surge by the 49ers threatened OSU’s lead, but ultimately, the Buckeyes pulled through to win the set 25-21.
Serving errors plagued the 49ers in the third as the team committed seven. The Buckeyes improved their defense, tallying 11 total digs as a team.
The final set of the night started off similarly to the second, with the teams going back-and-forth until the 49ers began to pull away to establish a 19-15 lead, OSU’s largest deficit in the set. However, the Buckeyes rallied for six straight points and won the set in extra points, 26-24.
OSU combined for 19 kills and attacked at .516 rate in the fourth set.
“Nic is such an experienced player that he knows when people are in front of him, how to take a bad set and do something good with it,” Hanson said. “I think you kind of saw that on the last play. It wasn’t a great set, but Nic made a great swing off the hand. The next thing you know, the ball’s in the bleachers and it’s match point, we win.”
OSU goes for the record at Ball State on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Buckeyes then play Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday at 7 p.m.