No. 14 Ohio State picked up its first win in three matches on Saturday night, defeating the Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters in four sets.
With the fourth set tied at 22, the Railsplitters returned a serve by Ohio State freshman outside hitter Jack Stevens, but sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand rose up to tip the ball straight down, securing a critical point for the Buckeyes.
A service error handed the serve back to Lincoln Memorial, but kills by freshman outside hitter Sean Ryan and junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss ensured a Buckeye victory, snapping a two-match losing streak.
Head coach Pete Hanson said he’s seen his team have a determination to avoid dwelling on past losses and instead, focusing on how they can improve, both individually and as a team.
“They didn’t feel bad about last night and bring it into tonight’s match,” Hanson said. “They just said, ‘hey, we’ve got to come out and do these things to win, this is a good team,’ and they did.”
Four Buckeyes were responsible for 14 points or more: Devilbiss, Ryan, Lallemand and redshirt senior middle blocker Blake Leeson.
With the second set tied at 11, kills by Leeson and Devilbiss gave the Buckeyes a three-point lead, which they’d stretch to six, winning the set 25-19.
Devilbiss finished the match with 13 kills, 10 digs and an ace, but committed four attack errors.
In total, Ohio State finished with 19 attack errors in the match..
Junior opposite hitter and setter Evan Cory was a key to success for the Railsplitters, leading the team offensively with 21 kills, nine of which came in the third set.
Late in the third set, Lincoln Memorial rode a pair of kills by Cory to five straight points, taking a 23-19 lead. Despite three kills from Leeson and Devilbiss, the Buckeyes failed to finish off the comeback, falling 25-23.
Ohio State totalled 13 kills in the third set, as well as an ace by freshman libero Parker Mikesch.
Mikesch, playing as a setter for the injured senior Sanil Thomas, had two aces on the night, 53 assists and three digs.
Mikesch said he was prepared to fill in as a setter, despite having very little experience playing the position.
“It’s kind of tough seeing a guy like Sanil go down,” Mikesch said “But at the same time, these coaches and the whole program is all about next man up, being ready to fill a position.”
The Buckeyes take on conference foe Purdue Fort Wayne at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Fort Wayne, Indiana.