Cody Cousino / Photo editor
The No. 10-ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team split its too matches in the Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational this weekend, defeating No. 12-ranked Pacific in four sets before falling to No. 4-ranked Stanford in five sets.
Penn State and Stanford kicked off the series with a rematch of the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford swept PSU in the title game, but victory belonged to the Nittany Lions Friday night.
As the Buckeyes prepared to take the court with Pacific, a moment of silence was held in honor of D.C. Koehl, the OSU volleyball sports information director, who died Thursday. The same was done before Saturday’s match.
The Tigers came out strong Friday and were able to take the first set, 25-19, by taking an early four-point lead that OSU was unable to overcome.
The Buckeyes, led by senior opposite Shawn Sangrey with a match-high 26 kills, claimed the next three sets and the match.
“We took a nice step this weekend, and that’s what I told the kids,” said coach Pete Hanson. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this, play like this, three weeks ago. Our team was just so discombobulated.”
After Pacific fell to PSU, the only team to leave the invitational with two wins, OSU faced Stanford.
Stanford had the early advantage after defeating the Buckeyes in a shaky first set, 22-25.
“We’ve gone down one (set) before and I don’t think it’s anything to be scared of,” Sangrey said. “But it does hurt a little bit.”
OSU came back in the second set and went on a three-point run to force a timeout at 13-9. The Buckeyes kept a steady lead, but almost let it slip away as they approached set point.
Stanford’s own three-point run put them within one point of OSU before senior outside hitter Mik Berzins sealed the set with a kill, 25-23.
A special guest was introduced during the intermission between the second and third sets to the almost 960 people that attended Saturday’s match.
President E. Gordon Gee, dressed in a gray vest with his signature bow tie, stepped onto the court to lead several fans in a game of “Gee says,” a variation on the game “Simon says,” with a $25 gas gift card from Speedway for the winner.
As Gee attempted to stump the fans, he narrowed it down to five very attentive contestants. Gee gave the oldest remaining contestant the gift card and promised to give $25 to the other four.
The teams retook the court, and the third set was a close one, with 16 tied scores.
At 20-17, Stanford’s senior setter Evan Berry went up for an attack and came down hard on the court, injuring his left knee. Berry was able to return to the sidelines during the fifth set but never re-entered the match.
Back-to-back Sangrey kills ended the set, 26-23.
Stanford maintained a small lead through the fourth set, though the score would tie 13 times during the set. At 20-20, the Cardinal offense began to pull ahead and would force a deciding fifth set.
Sangrey said he is motivated to continue to compete at a high level in long matches by his teammates.
“We’re playing for each other,” he said. “We’re motivated to make each other better.”
The Buckeyes were ahead by three when the teams swapped sides of the court. At 9-7, Stanford went on a three-point drive to take the lead and force an OSU timeout.
A missed block by Sangrey ended the set, 12-15, and the match.
“The thing that hurt us coming down the stretch was our serving. We made some really critical service errors,” Hanson said. “And that’s just staying confident, staying aggressive, and when you can do that you’re going to get that serve in.”
Sangrey recorded a match-high 30 kills which tied his career best record. Redshirt freshman setter Peter Heinen delivered 49 assists, another match-high. Junior libero Derek Kues led the team in digs with eight.
The Buckeyes are 1-10 against Stanford. Their only win was in 1981, the first time the two teams met. They are 10-1 against Pacific.
OSU will travel to University Park, Pa., to take on the Cal-Baptist Lancers on Friday and the Mount Olive Trojans on Saturday as part of the Penn State Tournament. Both games start at 5 p.m.