The No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (10-2, 3-0 MIVA) took down the Lindenwood Lions (6-6, 1-4 MIVA) in three quick sets Thursday night despite an unusual lineup.
Ohio State senior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen sat out due to Achilles tendon pain. Sophomore outside hitter Reese Devilbiss, who filled in for Szerszen, played the part well, averaging a hitting percentage of .500 and scoring 14 kills.
Despite the new starter, the Buckeyes took care of business, winning by at least five points in two of the three sets.
“We were relatively calm throughout the whole entire match because we knew we wanted to keep a steady level of play going because we didn’t want Nic Szerszen to have to come in and save us because that’s not who we are,” Devilbiss said. “We tried to keep our composure, and I think we did that very well.”
Though the Lions struggled against the Buckeyes, Lindenwood sophomore middle blocker Sam Schindler had a good match, hitting a .615 and nailing six service aces.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson credited much of Schindler’s service success to unpredictability.
“He hits it hard. It’s not always real controllable and I think that’s part of what our guys may expect to see, a pretty true serve. He doesn’t hit a true serve,” Hanson said. “He just whacks it and it kinda goes anywhere and our guys didn’t do a good job of getting in a good spot and adjusting to that well.”
Lindenwood struggled with passing in the first set, watching a number of the balls fall without moving toward them. The Lions’ offense also started off slow with junior setter Adam Brewster and his fellow attackers struggling to synchronize. Ohio State won the opening set 25-19.
The second set was close, unlike the first, but the Buckeyes pulled away late for a second victory in a row. Lindenwood took a brief 4-3 lead. Ohio State passed them for a 9-8 lead after an attack error by Lindenwood freshman outside hitter Johnny Winkler and maintained the lead by a few points until the Buckeyes won the set 25-20.
The third set was the closest of the night despite Lindenwood hitting a match-low .172. The Lions fought back with increased intensity while the Buckeyes had trouble sealing the victory.
Lindenwood led the Buckeyes for the better half of the set with a strong blocking presence on the net. The Lions had two blocks in the set and added pressure to Ohio State’s attacker, who gave up six points in attacking errors.
Hanson attributed the final set’s tight score of 26-24 to the Buckeyes’ inability to finish points.
“It’s natural for an athlete to kind of relax and not play every point really, really point when you’re on the verge of winning and it’s been pretty easy,” he said. “When you get a team down, you’ve got to step on them. You have to finish them off.”
Ohio State senior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir had another strong night, landing 12 kills and hitting a .417. This season, he has steadily become a go-to attacker and source of power.
“He’s in a good rhythm with [junior setter] Sanil [Thomas]. Sanil now kind of feels comfortable setting him the type of ball that he needs,” Hanson said. “Max has played real well for us the last three or four weeks and we’re going to need that to continue if we’re going to have a chance to do what we want to do this season.”
The Buckeyes will play Quincy at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. John Arena.