The No. 1 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (18-0, 8-0 MIVA) made Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association history by extending its win streak to 41 in its win against Saint Francis University (8-10, 4-4 EIVA) on Friday.
With their four-set win against the Saint Francis Red Flash, the Buckeyes fall within six matches of tying the NCAA record 47-match win streak set by University of California, Los Angeles in 1979-1980 and again in 1983-1985 and surpass the MIVA record of 40 matches set by Loyola University in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
“I think (the streak is) awesome,” senior setter Christy Blough said. “I think it shows all the hard work from the guys this year and in the past that have built up to this.”
Three-time MIVA Offensive Player of the Week Miles Johnson was the Buckeyes’ top point producer in the first set, tallying four kills on five errorless attempts. The senior opposite hitter also had one of the team’s two blocks in the set.
A Red Flash attacking error and service ace from junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen helped the Buckeyes begin to pull away in the first set after trading points back and forth and remaining knotted up at 7. Kills from Johnson and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Blake Leeson helped OSU take the set 25-15.
The second set blues plagued the Buckeyes again as they started the set down 12-6, with the Red Flash going on a 7-2 run. Set no. 2 has been a problem all season for OSU with the team dropping the second set seven times through first 17 matches in the season. Its only other set losses come from the first set in the season opener against University of Southern California on Jan. 6 and the fourth set against Grand Canyon on Feb. 26.
“I really can’t put my finger on it, I really can’t,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said about his team’s second set performances. “I don’t know if our guys do anything exceptionally different, but we just don’t’ have that same kind of intensity, that same kind of drive coming out of the gate or coming out of the locker rooms.”
A four-point run helped the Buckeyes cut their deficit to 17-19, but their efforts were unsuccessful as Saint Francis took the second set 25-23. Five Red Flash blocks kept the Buckeyes attacking at a .189 hitting efficiency, down from .429 in the first set.
After intermission, the Buckeyes returned to their first-set form, going on a 6-2 run in the middle of the third to make the score 20-12. Six total serving aces aided the Buckeyes in their 25-15 victory in the third set, including one from freshman outside hitter Shawn Hughes to close out the set.
Eleven different Buckeyes saw the court in the night’s final set with OSU starting off with a 9-4 lead. Hughes ended the set with another service for OSU’s third 25-15 triumph of the night.
The Buckeyes take on two California teams next week with University in of California, San Diego on Friday and No. 6 University of California, Irvine on Saturday, both at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.