Ohio State accomplished something Thursday that no other team in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association has done so far this season: force a fourth and fifth set on No. 10 Lewis.
The Buckeyes (5-10, 1-4 MIVA) stretched Lewis (12-4, 5-0 MIVA) to five sets, but could not complete the upset, losing 25-21, 18-25, 24-26, 25-17 and 15-11.
With the third set tied at 23, a long volley ended as junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss killed a ball over the net giving the Buckeyes set point. Lewis forced overtime after a kill by junior outside hitter Kyle Bugee, but a kill by redshirt senior middle blocker Blake Leeson and an error by the Flyers awarded the Buckeyes a third set victory and a two sets-to-one edge over the Flyers, ensuring a five-set match.
Leeson hit for .769 with 10 kills on 13 attacks, also providing an ace and six block assists. He said he saw steadiness in his teammates, keeping the Buckeyes focused.
“Everyone played more relaxed and didn’t freak out as much over errors,” Leeson said. “I was honestly pretty proud of sets and aspects of the game across the board, but [we’ve] got to push a little harder in spots and not make errors in others to flip that switch to a W.”
In the first set, Ohio State used kills by Leeson and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tyler Alter to cut the Flyer lead to one. But Lewis rode kills by redshirt junior outside hitter Ryan Coenen and redshirt senior Julian Moses, as well as senior setter Matt Yoshimoto’s second ace of the night to put the set away for Lewis, 25-21.
Coenen led the Flyers with 14 kills and two aces, adding seven digs and two block assists.
Alter served as the offensive engine for the Buckeyes, leading the team with 19 kills, while bolstering the defense with nine digs and three block assists. He recorded 16 of his 19 kills in the first three sets.
Head coach Pete Hanson was impressed to see Alter flourish with little collegiate volleyball experience.
“I thought in the first three-and-a-half sets, Tyler Alter was awesome. He had a great night,” Hanson said. “At one point in time he was hitting close to .500, which for a kid that’s only played literally in — that was his second match in three years, that’s really really good stuff.”
But where Ohio State seemed to have momentum in the first three sets, Lewis started to take over as the match wore on.
Midway through the fourth set, Lewis used a kill by Coenen and two Buckeye errors to take an 11-7 advantage. A kill by sophomore middle blocker Austin Gerwig helped Ohio State trim the lead to two. But the Flyers capitalized on a kill by Coenen and two Buckeye errors to stretch their lead to five, 18-13. The Flyers finished the set on a 5-1 run, taking the fourth set 25-17 and forcing a fifth set.
“The longer it went on the more we just kind of got into bad spots with our serving and passing and that affected our setting and that affected our hitting and just dominoes started to go the other direction,” Hanson said.
After the Buckeyes exploded in the fifth set for four quick points courtesy of two kills by sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand, a Buckeye block and a Flyer error, Lewis responded with a six-point run of its own, building a 7-4 lead.
Each comeback the Buckeyes mounted, the Flyers cut short, using five blocks and 10 digs to defend their lead and finish off the set, 15-11, and the match, 3-2.
Despite the loss, Leeson is keeping things optimistic.
“This is the best I’ve seen us play in awhile,” Leeson said. “I’m excited to see where we’re at.”
Ohio State will try again for a league win against Loyola Chicago at 2 p.m. on Sunday at St. John Arena.