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Men’s Volleyball: Familiar offensive struggles doom Ohio State against No. 5 UCLA

Ohio State then-junior setter Sanil Thomas (3) sets the ball to then-redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson (11) during the Buckeyes’ 3-1 win against Loyola on March 29. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

In its second road trip to California this season, Ohio State’s offensive struggles continued in a loss to No. 5 UCLA in straight-sets, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-21.

The Buckeyes (6-13, 2-6 MIVA) managed a .017 hitting percentage over the course of the match, killing 21 balls while committing 20 attack errors. The Bruins (15-4, 6-0 MPSF) added 30 kills and 11 errors for a .297 hitting percentage, helping overcome their 27 service errors to secure the victory.

With the Bruins leading 20-18 in the third set, the Buckeyes had accrued only four kills and an ace, capitalizing on 10 service and three attack errors by UCLA to keep the set close.

Kills by sophomore outside hitter Jake Hanes and redshirt senior middle blocker Blake Leeson tied the set at 20, but the Buckeyes would manage one block in the last six points, giving UCLA the third set and the match.

Junior outside hitter Austin Matautia led the Bruins with nine kills, adding two total blocks, an assist and two digs. UCLA junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah struck seven kills and an ace, also providing five total blocks.

Late in the first set, a service error by Matautia left the Buckeyes down 21-19. But back-to-back Bruin blocks on attacks by Hanes supplanted a four-point margin for UCLA. The Bruins used a service error and a kill by redshirt sophomore outside hitter and setter Sam Kobrine to close out the set, 25-21.

While the Buckeyes picked up two blocks, UCLA totaled five in the opening set and out-blocked Ohio State in the match 10-5.

While five Buckeyes contributed kills in the match, only two recorded more than three. Both Hanes and sophomore outside hitter Martin Lallemand led Ohio State with seven kills each, with Hanes adding two aces and Lallemand adding one.

One bright spot for Ohio State was the return of senior setter Sanil Thomas. Though operating on a very limited basis, Thomas participated in all three sets, totalling three assists. Thomas had missed the past 11 matches after sustaining a right hand injury in late January.

Down 15-10 in the second set, Ohio State used a Thomas assist turned Lallemand kill and two Bruin attack errors in a three-point run, cutting the UCLA lead to two. Two quick Buckeye errors restored UCLA’s four point lead, which they would carry to a 25-21 set victory.

The Buckeyes return to action against No. 11 USC Saturday at 11 p.m. in Los Angeles.

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