With the regular season’s end in sight, the No. 2 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (25-2, 14-0 MIVA) looks to beat both Lindenwood University and Quincy University for a season sweep of both teams.
The Buckeyes head into the weekend’s matches having already clinched the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular season championship outright. The championship marks the program’s 26th regular season MIVA title, a conference high by five trophies.
“We’re just playing for the seniors,” said freshman outside hitter Reese Devilbliss. “Nobody likes to lose so we want to send them out with as many wins as they can get, and it will keep our confidence a little high as we approach the post season.”
On Friday, the Buckeyes head to Missouri to face the Lindenwood Lions (5-16 4-10 MIVA). Lindenwood comes into the matchup after losing to No. 13 Ball State University, 3-1.
Having already clinched a MIVA playoff spot, the Lions will hope to win out the regular season for the chance to claim the No. 6 seed in the MIVA tournament. OSU, on the other hand, has already secured the top seed, ensuring that the Buckeyes will have home court advantage throughout the tournament.
“These [games] have some impact on the NCAA tournament,” head coach Pete Hanson said. “We want to hold a high ranking and we want to hold a strong RPI. We want to not give away any ammunition that, in case we might stumble in the [MIVA] playoffs, that we wouldn’t get an at-large bid. So there still is a lot to play for.”
When the teams faced each other earlier in the season, the Lions stole a set during their trip to Columbus. The Buckeyes won the match 3-1 and extended their all-time record against Lindenwood to 9-0.
Lindenwood’s junior libero Ryan Vorderer leads the MIVA in digs per set with 2.58, and his 196 season digs is the conference’s fourth best. Sophomore Connor Hipelius leads the nation in blocks per set, averaging 1.39.
On Saturday, OSU travels to Quincy to face the Hawks (7-19, 2-12 MIVA) for OSU’s regular season finale. Quincy, coming off a conference win, will be vying for the last spot in the MIVA tournament in its last two regular season games.
The last time these two teams faced, OSU won 3-1 during the Hawks’ trip to St. John Arena. The win for the Buckeyes improved their record against the Hawks to 52-2.
Saturday’s matchup will feature both the MIVA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. On Tuesday, Quincy’s sophomore libero Kolbie Knorr and OSU’s senior opposite Miles Johnson earned conference Player of the Week honors.
Knorr, who averaged 3.21 digs per set last week during Quincy’s three-game slate, is the first Hawk to be honored with the Player of the Week award all season. Last week, Knorr reached another milestone with a career-high 20 digs in the win against Culver-Stockton College.
For Johnson, the Player of the Week honor is his fourth one of the season. Previously he won the award in three consecutive weeks spanning from Jan. 31- Feb. 14. During last week’s two matches against McKendree University, Johnson averaged 7.33 points per set, while tallying five aces in six sets.
“He just hits the ball at a really high level,” Hanson said. “He sees the block well. He’s matured into a very, very good attacker that can deal not only a bad set, but certainly can deal with the good sets and score a lot of points for us.”
The Buckeyes see first serve on Friday against Lindenwood and on Saturday against Quincy, both at 8 p.m.