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Men’s Volleyball: Offensive struggles continue for Ohio State in straight-set loss to Penn State

Redshirt sophomore Jake Hanes smacks the ground out of frustration after sending the ball out-of-bounds during Ohio State’s loss to George Mason on Jan. 18 at St. John Arena in Columbus. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Senior Reporter

Hoping to close out its nonconference schedule with a victory, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team struggled offensively against Penn State, falling in straight sets, 25-20, 25-18 and 25-23. The Buckeyes (7-15, 2-6 MIVA) totaled 10 fewer kills than Penn State (9-12, 6-2 EIVA) and were outplayed from the service stripe, bouncing three aces to the Nittany Lions’ eight.

Sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes, Ohio State’s leading scorer with 202 kills on the season, managed nine kills and six errors on 22 attacks, good for a .136 hitting percentage. He added seven digs. Tuesday’s match marked just the second time this season Hanes has been held to single-digit kills, the first coming March 8 against UCLA, when he totaled seven.

A kill by Hanes gave Ohio State a one-point margin over Penn State in the third set, but the Nittany Lions used three-straight points, including two Ohio State errors, to reclaim the 23-21 lead.

A couple of attack errors by Penn State kept the Buckeyes’ spirits alive, but two service errors sunk any comeback opportunity for Ohio State, giving Penn State the 25-23 set victory 25-23 and seal the match.

The final two Ohio State service errors of the match pushed the Buckeyes ahead of Penn State in the statistic, with Ohio State racking up 20 to the Nittany Lions’ 19. Yet the Buckeyes had just 11 attack errors compared to Penn State’s 13.

With the second set tied at 12, Penn State used a kill by redshirt junior outside hitter Henrik Falck Lauten, an ace by freshman setter Cole Bogner and an Ohio State error to open up a 15-12 lead.

The Nittany Lions continued to take advantage of errors by the Buckeyes, adding a kill by freshman outside hitter Brett Wildman and redshirt senior outside hitter Matthew McLaren to push their lead to 22-15.

Two service errors and a kill by Hanes helped Ohio State keep pace, but kills by Bogner and redshirt junior middle blocker Jason Donorovich ensured a Penn State victory in the second set 25-18.

Senior setter Sanil Thomas tallied seven of his 24 kills in the first set. Tuesday marked Thomas’ first start for the Buckeyes since Jan. 26 against Ball State. Along with his 24 assists, Thomas added two digs and an ace in his return to the starting rotation.

Aces by Thomas and junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss helped Ohio State tie Penn State at 17 in the first set, but kills by Falck Lauten and Donorovich re-established a Nittany Lion advantage.

Two kills by freshman outside hitter Sean Ryan brought the Buckeyes back within three points of the Nittany Lions late in the set, but Penn State used a Buckeye attack error and a kill by freshman outside hitter Brett Wildman to close out the set, 25-20.

Ohio State begins the second half of its conference schedule against Lindenwood at 7 p.m. Friday at St. John Arena.

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