In sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes’ return to the starting rotation, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team defeated McKendree in four sets, 25-23, 19-25, 25-18 and 26-24.
The Buckeyes (6-11, 2-5 MIVA) used Hanes’ 25 kills to great effect on Friday, helping them out kill the Bearcats (6-8, 3-4 MIVA) by a 64-40 margin.
Hanes’ 25 kills paced the Buckeyes, adding an ace, six digs and a solo block.
The Buckeyes used two kills by Hanes to send the fourth set into overtime, tied at 24. Hanes aced his next serve and struck the final kill, giving the Buckeyes a 26-24 set victory and winning the match, 3-1.
“It was good to be back,” Hanes said. “I had a rough start the first couple sets but we figured it out by the end.”
The Buckeyes, as a whole, committed 41 errors — 19 attack and 22 service — 22 of which came in the first two sets. Hanes accounted for 12 of those errors, committing six in the first two sets.
Head coach Pete Hanson said he doesn’t attribute his team’s errors to purely physical mistakes.
“So much of that is mental,” Hanson said. “It’s, ‘are you confident even when you might be behind,’ and for young guys, that’s a hard concept to wrap their minds around sometimes.”
Four Buckeye errors and an ace by junior opposite hitter Zach Schnittker gave McKendree the early second-set lead against the Buckeyes by a five-point margin, 8-3. The Bearcats expanded their lead to as many as seven, but four kills by Hanes helped Ohio State rattle off six straight points cutting the deficit to two, 16-14.
McKendree responded with a three-point run of its own, reasserting a five-point lead, which it would carry until the end of the set, winning 25-19.
Schnittker led the Bearcats with 12 kills and two aces, adding three blocks as well.
McKendree tallied 7.5 blocks against the Buckeyes but were unable to do much but stall Ohio State, who hit at a .391 clip.
The Buckeye offense was firing on all cylinders in the first set, totalling 18 kills and an ace, but eight service errors to McKendree’s three kept the Bearcats close.
With the score tied at 21, kills by Hanes and freshman outside hitter Jack Stevens gave the Buckeyes a quick two-point advantage, which they held onto to win the first set, 25-23.
Stevens totalled six kills, an ace and two digs in an increased role for the Buckeyes.
Hanson said that he sees Stevens as a great young player.
“There’s never a doubt that you’re gonna get a max effort out of Jack Stevens,” Hanson said. ”We’re going to call on Jack again and he’ll probably get another crack at it on Sunday and we’ll see how it goes.”
Another young player Hanson recognized was freshman setter Luke Lentin, who has taken over as Ohio State’s full-time setter while senior Sanil Thomas is out with an injury to his right hand.
A Bearcat attack error and an ace by Lentin gave the Buckeyes their first multiple point lead in the third set, 16-13. The Ohio State lead ballooned to as many as seven points en-route to a 25-18 third set victory.
Lentin accounted for 57 assists, two aces and seven digs.
While many things went right for the Buckeyes on Friday, Hanson said he credited the victory to his team continuing to compete despite errors.
“It was nice to see the young guys continue to fight through some rough patches,” Hanson said. “Finally the good guys pulled one out.”
Ohio State will attempt to sweep McKendree at 2 p.m. on Sunday at St. John Arena.