Junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen bumps the ball during the NCAA national championship game on Saturday. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller Reporter

The No. 3 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (3-2) only needed three sets to sweep Saint Francis  (4-4) at St. John Arena Thursday night.

Though the Buckeyes struggled with serves throughout the match, with nine service errors per set, their advantage in kills and blocks gave them enough of an edge for a quick night.

Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said knowing what the team needs strategically during service is a learning process.

“Do we stay aggressive? Do we make sure to just get one in and then play defense? We want to be an aggressive team and we’re going to try to have them practice that way,” Hanson said. “Sometimes we’re just going to get a lot of errors.”

The Buckeyes began the match with strong, consistent hitting from redshirt freshman opposite Jake Hanes, redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson and senior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir, winning the set 25-23. Despite having a strong net presence and half as many service errors as Ohio State, Saint Francis struggled to fight off the Buckeyes.

Ohio State had nine service errors in the first set, but made up for the serving issues with 13 digs and 15 kills.

“We serve our hardest and it goes up and down,” Hanes said. “But when it’s in, we get teams out of system; it helps our defense out.”

Fresh off their first-set win, the Buckeyes came out swinging in the second set, winning 25-21 with a hitting percentage of .609. Saint Francis was not far behind, hitting .500, however the defensive effort was not there like it was in the first half. The Red Flash could only muster six digs, rather than its first-set 15, as Leeson carried the Buckeyes with three powerful hits from the middle.

The third set started slowly for the Buckeyes compared to the previous two. Saint Francis kept the lead until the teams were tied at 15, before Ohio State pulled ahead by two. But Saint Francis quickly caught up and the two teams went back-and-forth until the Buckeyes had a four-point run at the end of the set to win the match. Senior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen contributed six kills to the Buckeyes’ 25 points.

Hanes played an exceptional game, leading both teams with 19 kills. Ohio State junior setter Sanil Thomas led the match with 39 assists.