The No. 9 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (13-4, 6-2 MIVA) snapped its two-game losing streak around with a pair of wins at McKendree (6-10, 2-5 MIVA) Friday and Saturday.
After losing the first set on Friday, the Buckeyes kicked into high-gear and won the next six sets, beating the McKendree Bearcats 3-1 on Friday and sweeping them 3-0 on Saturday.
Friday night’s first set seemed to serve as a warm up for the Buckeyes, who lost to the Bearcats 26-24. Ohio State matched McKendree in overall gameplay, mirroring them statistically in set kills (14 OSU, 14 McKendree), hitting percentage (.257 OSU, .256 McKendree), service and attacking errors (10 OSU, 10 McKendree) and digs (13 OSU, 13 McKendree), but could not come up with the win to start off the match.
Despite the slow start, the Buckeyes posted up four solid blocks in the first set, starting the match off with a strong net presence.
The Buckeyes picked up the tempo in the second set, beginning to settle back into their typical offensive play.
The second set was a good serving set for Ohio State senior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen, who had an ace and an eight-serve run at the beginning of the set.
Under the pressure of Ohio State’s growing offensive strength, McKendree struggled to defend its court and return aggressive attacks. The Bearcats lost to the Buckeyes 25-15, with nearly half of McKendree’s points coming as the result of Buckeye errors.
After an effective serving set, Szerszen came back in the third set ready to swing, scoring six kills for the team.
The Bearcats improved their defense in the third set, but still could not keep up with the Buckeyes’ offense, losing 25-23.
The fourth and final set of the night was a great set for the Ohio State statistically. Redshirt freshman Jake Hanes found his rhythm, nailing eight of his nine attempted kills and hitting a percentage of .889. Middle blockers Blake Leeson and Nick Laffin also dominated on the net, scoring eight points in kills and blocks between the two of them to help lead Ohio State to a 25-12 match-sealing win
The second match between the two teams proved to be a much more even competition despite McKendree losing all three sets. Although Ohio State beat McKendree in three straight sets, the Bearcats finished within six points of the Buckeyes in all three sets (25-20, 25-19, 25-19).
Coming off of Friday night’s match, senior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir and Leeson maintained their offensive energy, hitting .500 and .600 respectively. As a team, Ohio State totaled 43 kills throughout the match, nearly twice as much as McKendree’s 25 kills.
McKendree hit .095 in the first set, getting only 6 kills. Bearcats redshirt freshman middle blocker Wyatt Dimke and senior outside hitter Nolan Rueter each contributed two block assists to the team’s total of 4.5 blocks.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, their blocking wasn’t enough to get the upper hand in the set, and they lost 25-20.
The Bearcats were less successful in attacking in the second set, but maintained blocking momentum from the first set with four blocks in the second set. Ohio State still managed to win 25-19.
By the third and final set, McKendree had lost five consecutive sets to the Buckeyes, but continued to fight. Their hitting percentage reached a weekend low of .061 as Ohio State picked up its blocking, but the Bearcats kept the Buckeyes within six points.
McKendree’s passing got better as its digs increased from there in the second set to twelve in the third, but it was not enough. The Buckeyes beat McKendree 25-19.