The Ohio State men’s volleyball team rolled the Sacred Heart Pioneers Tuesday night in three sets, giving them a record of 3-3.
The Buckeyes had a seamless first set that left the Pioneers anything but discouraged. After leading for most of the second set, Sacred Heart was unable to hold onto the advantage for long.
OSU gained a 4-1 lead thanks to three kills set up by junior setter Kyle Lawrence and a ball handling error by Sacred Heart.
At 8-3, sophomore Pioneer and outside hitter, Enzo Mackenzie, kicked the ball out of bounds, forcing Coach Rob Machan to call his first timeout.
Sacred Heart began to close the gap with seven quick points, catching the Buckeyes off guard by taking advantage of their close position on the net.
With the Pioneers within three at 13-10, OSU called a timeout and returned a more focused team. The Buckeyes put up five points and held Sacred Heart to two.
Junior middle blocker Grayson Overman delivered a powerful kill to make the score 20-13. Joined by senior outside hitter, Mik Berzins, Overman assisted on a block for one more point.
Senior opposite Shawn Sangrey made it 23-15 with a kill before Sacred Heart returned with one of its own. Set point came with another Sangrey kill.
Anthony Hock, a senior outside hitter, clinched the set with an attack that bounced off the hands of several Pioneers, 25-18.
The second set was tied early at two and then again at three. Sacred Heart took their first lead with a Buckeye attack error and a kill from sophomore outside hitter Bradley Borsay, 3-5.
Tied at seven, Hock pulled his team ahead before a serve from Berzins sailed into the net. At nine all, Shawn Herron, a redshirt freshman middle blocker, reached high above the net to deliver a kill.
OSU trailed until the set tied at 16. An attack error by the Pioneers and an Overman-Sangrey block put the Buckeyes ahead for the first time in set two, 18-16.
A four-hit call on the Pioneers rattled the players and coaching staff. After calling another time out, the team struggled to remain in the set. The next time they got their hands on the ball, a double-hit was called.
Hock’s kill led the Bucks to set point before a service error from junior outside hitter Chen Levitan gave Sacred Heart one last chance. Hock returned to end the set with a kill, 25-19.
OSU’s redshirt junior middle blocker, John Tholen, got his first kill of the night to make it 4-2. Tholen then sent over three lofty serves which resulted in two Sacred Heart errors and a kill by Berzins.
The smiles returned to the faces of the OSU players when they hit the court after a Sacred Heart time out at 12-4. Michael Henchy, a freshman outside hitter, reentered the game and scored three kills and a service ace.
The Buckeyes had doubled Sacred Heart’s score, 20-10, when Coach Pete Hanson began to substitute the starters out. A service error led to match point for OSU and a Levitan service ace ended the set and match, 25-12.
Hanson noted that his team excels when the players keep their composure.
“We’re going to keep working on the problems we’ve identified,” said Hanson. “Making sure it’s a good, aggressive serve instead of an aggressive error. Eight service errors in three sets, that’s pretty good.”
Building a strong defense is also something the Buckeyes have been working on. Hock, who led the team in digs, said taking his time makes it easier on the setters.
“We’ve had a strong offense for a while, but haven’t had great defense,” said Hock. “Slowing it down makes it a lot easier to run the offense really well and take care of business.”
OSU was 41-of-78 in kills and landed 12 more than the opponent, despite 84 attack attempts by the Pioneers. Sacred Heart, now 0-1, gave up 17 points in error.
The Buckeyes will host the George Mason Patriots Thursday at 7 p.m.