Playing its first match as an unranked squad since 2014, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team fell to No. 15 Purdue Fort Wayne, its second conference loss in as many matches.
After winning a close first set, the Mastodons used a kill and two aces by redshirt senior opposite hitter Colton Stone to break the second set wide open, pushing their lead to 12-7. The lead grew to as many as 10 points after an Ohio State service error, with the score 23-13.
The second set, much like the rest of the match, was less about Ohio State’s struggles than it was about the dominance of Purdue Fort Wayne, as the Mastodons terminated 13 of their 20 attack opportunities for a .450 hitting percentage, adding three aces.
Junior outside hitter Pelegrin Vargas led the Mastodons with 15 kills, five block assists and an ace, while Stone added six kills and three aces.
The Buckeye offense hit at a measly .167 clip, managing 30 kills on 72 total attacks, while adding three aces.
Freshman middle blocker Ethan Talley had 10 kills on 14 attacks for a team-high .714 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand was the only other Buckeye with more than five kills, finishing six and adding an ace and a block assist.
Ohio State always seemed to be playing from behind, and without a consistent offense, they relied mostly on the 39 total errors committed by the Mastodons to stay in the game.
In the third set, Purdue Fort Wayne used a 7-1 run to build a 20-16 lead over the Buckeyes, but four errors by the Mastodons brought the Buckeyes even at 20. Kills by Vargas and Stone finished off the Buckeyes, leading Purdue Fort Wayne to a 25-22 win.
Both sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes and senior setter Sanil Thomas were out for the match with injury, the third straight match each had missed.
Ohio State did have one player return from injury as freshman setter Luke Lentin was able to recover in time for the match.
Lentin totalled 27 assists and three digs, while adding a kill and an ace for the Buckeyes.
Lentin’s return allowed freshman libero Parker Mikesch to return to his regular duties as a libero alongside redshirt senior Aaron Samarin.
Mikesch has spent the past two matches serving as the team’s full-time setter in the absence of Lentin, Thomas and junior setter Andrew Hillman.
Ohio State will face No. 6 UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. on Friday and No. 1 Long Beach State at 10 p.m. on Saturday in Long Beach, California.