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Ohio State men’s volleyball begins defense of 2011 NCAA national title

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The No. 8-ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team began its defense of the 2011 NCAA national championship by finishing fourth this past weekend at the University of California Santa Barbara/asics Collegiate Invitational Friday in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The team posted a 1-2 a record against a trio of nationally-ranked opponents.

Tournament play began for OSU with back-to-back matches Friday. The Buckeyes defeated No. 14 UCSB, 3-2, in their first match and were led by senior opposite Shawn Sangrey and senior outside hitter Mik Berzins, who tallied a combined 35 kills in the season-opening win. Redshirt freshman setter Peter Heinen and freshman outside hitter Michael Henchy had 43 assists and 10 kills, respectively.

OSU earned the opportunity to advance after a Henchy kill sealed the fifth set, 15-9.

The team concluded first-day action with a 3-0 loss to No. 3-ranked UCLA. The Bruins limited the Buckeyes to 19 points or less in each of the three sets.

In its final match of the weekend, OSU faced No. 6-ranked Long Beach State University on Saturday and jumped to a 2-0 lead. However, the 49ers won the next two sets to force a decisive fifth set, which they won.

LBSU gained an early 7-4 advantage in the last set and OSU was unable to overcome the deficit as the 49ers took the set, 15-10, to win the match.

A match-high 24 kills came from Sangrey, while Berzins put up 14. Redshirt junior middle blocker John Tholen had a match-high six block assists. Redshirt sophomore libero Danny Baker totaled seven digs.

The Buckeyes will now return to Columbus, Ohio, for a nine-game home stand.

OSU will open the home portion of its schedule with a Friday match at St. John Arena against the Lees-McRae College Bobcats. The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.

The Buckeyes continue their longest home stand of the season against No. 7-ranked Penn State on Saturday. OSU athletics spokesman D.C. Koehl told The Lantern that the 2011 national championship banner is scheduled to be raised during a ceremony at the match, which is set to begin at 7 p.m.

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