Despite winning the first set of the MIVA semifinals 25-8, the No. 7 Ohio State men’s volleyball team found itself tied with Lewis at two sets apiece.
However, Ohio State dominated the fifth set 15-8 to defeat its challengers 3-2 and secure a spot in the conference tournament finals.
The Buckeyes kept Lewis attackers at bay with 16 team blocks. Redshirt freshman opposite hitter Jake Hanes and redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson led the team with seven and 11 blocks, respectively.
Ohio State stormed out of the gates in the first two sets, winning by a combined score of 50-26, but lost narrowly in both the third and fourth sets.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said his team played well in all facets of the match in the first two sets, but that quickly changed.
“Their kids responded well because they’re competitors and it was a little bit frustrating as a coaching staff to see our guys become tense and become unsettled about that sort of thing,” Hanson said.
Lewis redshirt sophomore outside hitter Ryan Coenen has been one of his team’s most productive players, but struggled in the first set, racking up three attacking errors before Lewis’ first timeout at 11-6. The Flyers scored only two kills in the 25-8 loss.
The Buckeyes had five blocks in the first set, shutting down Lewis’ offense.
By the second set, Lewis’ offense picked up and the team’s hitting percentage breached zero, climbing from -.300 in the first set to .029 in the second. Coenen met Ohio State’s offense with five kills in the set.
The Buckeyes maintained their net presence with seven blocks and 12 kills in the second set to beat the Flyers 25-17.
The Buckeyes began to lose steam in the third set. Their hitting percentage dropped from .417 to .118 they picked up just 2 1/2 team blocks. Lewis picked up the tempo, surpassing Ohio State with a hitting percentage of .316 and adding 3 1/2 blocks.
Lewis took the 13-12 lead and managed to stay ahead of the Buckeyes for the remainder of the set to win 25-22.
The two teams kept the fourth set close, but Ohio State was slow on its feet, seemingly still recovering from the energy exerted in three straight sets without intermission. Lewis put on a more energized performance, ultimately collecting the 25-20 win.
Despite his team finding itself tied at two with Lewis, junior setter Sanil Thomas said he was not worried about the outcome of the match.
“We came out pretty strong, we knew what was at hand,” Thomas said. “I think since the first two kind of went a little easier than we expected, we took a little step back and they also adjusted very well and we couldn’t really cope with that because we were a little lackadaisical.”
The Buckeyes took an 8-4 lead in the fifth set prior to switching sides, then pulled away with the win. With six kills, four service aces and a block, Ohio State took the set, winning 15-8.