A frustrating stretch of three straight losses hung over the No. 11 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (3-3) prior to Saturday’s match against Erskine, the longest winless stretch it has experienced since the 2013-14 season.
Yet, the Buckeyes quickly found themselves back to their winning ways as they broke their three-game losing streak with a dominant, straight-set victory over Erskine (1-5), 25-12, 25-22 and 25-17.
Ohio State men’s volleyball head coach Pete Hanson called a team meeting Saturday morning to discuss what happened in the home loss to George Mason on Friday.
“I kind of asked the guys, hey, what did they think about as they reflected back on the match,” Hanson said.
He noticed that a lot of the same things were mentioned.
“They didn’t play with a lot of energy,” Hanson said. “They weren’t really committed to what we needed to do to beat a good team, and consequently a good team beat us.”
The Buckeyes proved their commitment early on Saturday when they tallied 16 of the final 21 points in the first set, cruising to 25-12 victory.
Despite 19 service errors in the match, Ohio State used six aces and 9.5 blocks to finish Erskine in straight sets.
Two of those aces came from sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes, also adding 12 kills, eight digs and contributing on five blocks for the Buckeyes.
But Hanes was outpaced in the kill category for the first time this season, as sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand tallied 13 kills, adding two aces and contributing on two blocks.
Looking to build on the one-sided first set, Ohio State jumped out to an early second set lead, but eight service errors kept the Buckeyes from pulling away. But a kill by redshirt senior middle blocker Blake Leeson began a 3-0 scoring run, pushing the Buckeye lead to 21-17.
Leeson also helped jumpstart a 7-1 run by the Buckeyes to start the third set with a two kills and an ace, leading to 25-17 victory.
Though Leeson was productive, hitting 11 kills on 13 attacks for an .846 hitting percentage, he recognized the team still has room for improvement.
“There are a lot of things we have to do mentally to fix some issues that we have,” Leeson said. “I think that with each game, with the young group that we do have playing on the court right now, I think that [experience] will help that.”
Ohio State also had a significant contribution from the bench.
Freshman middle blocker Ethan Talley made the most of his time on the court, adding three kills and contributing on a team-high seven blocks.
Ohio State will return to action against conference foe Ball State at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana.