Lantern file photo
The Ohio State men’s volleyball team might be banding together after winning two non-conference games over the weekend at St. John Arena.
No. 10 OSU dispatched George Mason, 3-1, Saturday after taking down the New Jersey Institute of Technology to complete the weekend sweep.
After four errors in the first five points from George Mason, the Buckeyes took a four-point lead (6-2) in the first set. The Patriots tied the match at 11, then took the lead at 14-12. Back-to-back kills from sophomore outside hitter Michael Henchy and redshirt sophomore opposite Andrew Lutz tied the game at 15 and forced a timeout by the Patriots. George Mason took the set with a 25-23 win.
OSU coach Pete Hanson used it as a call “to do better.”
“Let’s not just push out a win, but let’s go and beat somebody with some authority,” Hanson said.
The defense was strong opening the second set. The Buckeyes recorded 13 kills and three attack errors, winning the set, 25-17.
Up early in the third set, the Buckeyes battled to stay ahead. A kill from redshirt senior middle blocker John Tholen pushed the Buckeyes to a five-point lead (22-17). Redshirt sophomore setter Peter Heinen sealed the match with a kill, ending at 25-19. The Patriots came back with a vengeance in the fourth match with a 4-2 lead. After a kill from OSU senior middle blocker Grayson Overman and three errors by the Patriots, the Buckeyes took the game, 25-23. Lutz received his first double-double of his career, totaling 15 kills and a career-best 14 digs.
“A lot of them are lucky,” Lutz said after the game. “It’s not really about records right now, I just want to win.”
Henchy added 13 kills and tied his career-high in digs for the second double-double of the season. Tholen had a season-best 10 kills and two digs and two block assists. Senior outside hitter Chen Levitan finished with a career-high with 13 digs. Some of the players said the team’s success can be attributed to its focus on teamwork.
“It’s a team performance,” Overman said. “If we all do well, then we’re all stoked on it so it’s honestly about the team and we pulled together in the end.”
Friday, OSU matched up with the NJIT and cruised to a 3-0 victory. The Buckeyes recorded 14 kills and four attack errors to win the opening set, 25-20. NJIT was able to make a short-lived comeback during the second set and held a 19-17 lead deep into the game. The Buckeyes took control after two kills each from Henchy and Tholen and a service ace by redshirt junior libero Danny Baker, leading OSU to a 2-0 match advantage.
Hanson said Baker was key in the win.
“Danny Baker did a heck of a job,” Hanson said. “He came in and served those last two points, made that dig and got that ace and that’s what we are looking for, when a substitute can come in and spark the team and get a couple of points.”
In the third set, the Highlanders established an early lead, but OSU countered with an 8-1 run to take a four-point lead (9-5). The Buckeyes increased the pressure, mounting the lead to 17-9. A kill from Henchy put OSU at a comfortable 21-14 advantage.
Overman and Levitan contributed kills that gave OSU the match point and a kill from Lutz sealed the 25-17 win.
Henchy ended with a career-best 20 kills in the win.
“We knew that they were not the best opponent we’d see all season,” Henchy said. “They were a lot better than we expected and they gave us a run for our money in the second game.”
The Buckeyes are set to travel to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State on Saturday at 8 p.m.