Then-National Player of the Year Nicolas Szerszen (9) hits a ball at the net during a match against George Mason on Jan. 15.
Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The top-ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team (17-0, 8-0 MIVA) takes on Saint Francis University (8-9, 4-4 EIVA) for the second time this season on Friday at St. John Arena.

After dropping three of nine sets to Grand Canyon University and seeing its first fifth set of the season on Sunday, OSU will look to add onto its historic 40-match win streak. Saint Francis comes to Columbus after picking up a pair of conference wins on Friday and Saturday.

“I think we just have to kind of get back to our rhythm as much as anything,” coach Pete Hanson said. “I think that if we’re in our best state mentally and physically come Friday night, we’ll be okay.”

Hanson added that the coaches are focusing on keeping the team fresh after a long road trip to Phoenix as the season approaches its midpoint.

The last time the Buckeyes and Saint Francis Red Flash met was Jan. 20 when the Buckeyes swept the Red Flash in straight sets during their visit to Pennsylvania. During the match, junior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir hit a rate of .667 and had zero attack errors.

Since the last time the teams met, freshman outside hitter Dejon Clark has seen more playing time, becoming a go-to server for Hanson. Clark, a Pickerington,Ohio, native, played in four of nine sets against Grand Canyon over the weekend. In 19 sets, Clark is serving at .829 efficiency.

“I was surprised that I got that opportunity,” Clark said. “I’m glad that I can contribute in any way possible.”

Also handling some of the serving duties for the Buckeyes was junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen. Szerszen ranks second nationally in aces per set and has tallied 42 service aces this season, adding to his career total that currently sits atop the school leaderboard.

Szerszen is joined by two other teammates who sit in the second slot nationally in two other statistical categories. Senior opposite hitter Miles Johnson ranks second in points per set with 5.07, and senior setter Christy Blough ranks second in assists per set with 11.20.

Senior opposite hitter Jeff Hogan remains a go-to target for the Red Flash, hitting better than all other team members at a rate of .225. Hogan also earned Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association offensive player of the week honors on Monday.

With a win on Friday, OSU will surpass Loyola University’s Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association record for longest win streak. The 47-match NCAA record is held by UCLA from the 1983-1985 seasons.
The Buckeyes and the Red Flash clash on Friday at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.