Despite 34 service errors, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team used its high-powered offense to defeat No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne in a five-set thriller, 18-25, 25-16, 21-25, 32-30 and 15-9.
The Buckeyes (9-18, 4-9 MIVA) committed more errors Thursday night than any other match this season, but a 67-48 kill advantage helped propel them over the Mastodons (16-10, 8-5 MIVA). The win marked Ohio State’s first victory over a top 15 opponent and its lone triumph in four five-set matches this season.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said the win was just what his team needed.
“This is a great memory in St. John Arena,” Hanson said. “That’s a great team win.”
Hanson praised the offensive production from freshman outside hitter Sean Ryan and sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes, but reserved his utmost admiration for junior libero Chase Moothart, who struck three aces during critical moments in the second and fifth sets.
The Mastodons and the Buckeyes split the first 14 points in the fifth set before a service error by Purdue Fort Wayne and a kill by junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss gave Ohio State a 9-7 lead.
A kill by Purdue Fort Wayne senior opposite hitter Alex Dickmann stalled the Buckeyes’ run, but back-to-back kills by Ryan and an ace by Moothart established a 12-8 Ohio State lead.
Kills by Hanes and sophomore middle blocker Austin Gerwig propelled the Buckeyes to match point and a block by Gerwig and Ryan finished the set, 15-9, and the match 3-2 for Ohio State.
Ryan, who finished with 16 kills on .444 hitting, recording three blocks and three digs said that enjoying himself helped him execute.
“I just had fun, and usually when I’m having fun, that means things are working out well,” Ryan said. “After I got in a rhythm, I knew that if I got my passing down, Sanil [Thomas] was able to make plays.”
The Buckeyes opened the second set with a three-point run and never looked back. Ohio State used four more scoring runs of three or more points, including kills by Hanes, Leeson and Ryan, en-route to a 25-16 victory.
Moothart served up two crucial aces to close out the set and Hanes provided five kills and got in on four blocks for the Buckeyes.
Hanes finished with a team-leading 30 kills, adding two aces, five digs and five total blocks.
Despite the turnaround, the Buckeyes struggled to stop the Mastodons in the first set. Purdue Fort Wayne hit at a blistering .706 clip with 12 kills and an ace.
After taking a 3-2 lead early, the Mastodons scored 13 of the next 17 points, including five Ohio State errors and kills by junior middle blocker Richie Diedrich and junior outside hitter Pelegrin Vargas, extending their lead to as many as nine.
An ace and a kill by Hanes as well as kills by Ryan and freshman middle blocker Ethan Talley helped the Buckeyes cut the lead to five late in the set, 23-18, but two errors halted the Ohio State comeback, handing the first set to the Mastodons, 25-18.
Vargas tallied 13 kills, an ace, three digs and three total blocks on the night, while Dickmann led the team with 16 kills and nine digs.
The turning point for the Buckeyes came in the fourth set, the closest set of the match, which featured 22 ties and three lead changes.
With the score tied at 20, the Buckeyes had back-to-back kill-error sequences, keeping the Mastodons even at 22. A kill by Hanes and an attack error by Vargas brought Ohio State to match point, but two errors ensured the set would go to overtime.
After trading points the next 12 points, back-to-back kills by Hanes gave Ohio State the 32-30 victory and guaranteed a fifth set.
Ohio State will return for its final match in St. John Arena and the regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Ball State.