Ohio State’s struggles continued on Sunday, as it fell in straight sets to No. 7 Loyola Chicago, 25-14, 25-21 and 25-18.
The Buckeyes (5-11, 1-5 MIVA) had their worst offensive showing of the season, hitting at a .075 clip, killing 26 of their 80 attacks while committing 20 errors. They tallied zero aces for the first time all season and committed 12 service errors. The Ramblers (13-3, 6-0 MIVA) totaled 12.5 blocks to further challenge the Ohio State offense.
Ohio State seemed to have captured momentum in the third set after a kill by sophomore outside hitter Kyle Skinner put the Buckeyes up by a 13-10 margin. But the Ramblers stole the momentum right back with a six-point run featuring two kills by senior outside hitter Will Tischler, a kill by sophomore setter Garrett Zolg and three Buckeye attack errors, taking the 16-13 lead.
Loyola would extend its lead to seven points by the end of the set, using a five-point stretch, including two Rambler blocks and a kill by senior middle blocker Paul Narup, to win the set, 25-18, and the match, 3-0.
Loyola’s offense proved balanced, as three Ramblers led the team with nine kills: Narup, Tischler, and senior outside hitter Collin Mahan.
Ohio State was led by sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand and freshman outside hitter Sean Ryan, who each had six kills and two block assists. Skinner added five kills and a block assist for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State elected to bring Skinner into the match during the second set for redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tyler Alter. Alter was hitting -.211 with two kills and six errors on 19 attacks when Skinner replaced him.
Assistant coach Tim Embaugh said the Skinner substitution was more situational than anything else.
“Tyler’s been pretty good over the last two or three matches,” Embaugh said.”The numbers dictated that we just had to get him off the floor at that point.”
Skinner used a kill, as well as a kill by Ryan to help lead a late surge by the Buckeyes, down 23-21 in the second set, but a Ramblers kill by senior outside hitter Will Tischler and an Ohio State attack error gave Loyola the second set win, 25-21.
The second set was the only set in which the Buckeyes crossed the 20-point threshold.
A second change in the set was made as freshman setter Luke Lentin was brought in to replace freshman libero Parker Mikesch, who has been filling in as Ohio State’s setter since senior setter Sanil Thomas injured his hand in January.
Lentin, who was sidelined earlier this season with a concussion, came into the match and made an immediate impact on the court, knocking a kill in his first point on the court.
Embaugh said he believes Lentin showed that he’s healthy enough to become Ohio State’s full-time setter.
“We’re kind of right now to the point where Luke’s ready to step in and take the reins,” Embaugh said.
Lentin totalled 14 assists and four digs, adding a kill and a block assist for the Buckeyes.
Lentin said the way Loyola executed took the energy from Ohio State, making it hard to break up the Ramblers’ runs.
“Coming off the bench, all I wanted to do was just bring some energy back, and just do whatever little thing I could to help us,” Lentin said. “We just lost a lot of big momentum points.”
Ohio State will next take on McKendree in a two-match series on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at St. John Arena.