The No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (15-3, 9-1) protected its home court at St. John Arena with a pair of big wins over No. 11 Loyola University (11-5, 6-3) and No. 13 Lewis University (11-8, 6-5) over the weekend.
The Buckeyes captured the win over the Ramblers in three sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-22) Friday night. They continued their successful weekend with a hard-fought win over the Flyers in four sets (25-22, 25-14, 26-28, 25-22) the following evening.
“I thought (Friday) night’s game we were really sharp in terms of our serving and our offense ran at a really high level. (Saturday) it was more of a struggle,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said. “So, one clean, nice, pretty win and one not so pretty win.”
The Buckeyes kicked the weekend off with an important matchup against the two-time defending national champion Ramblers, who the Buckeyes already took care of in straight sets earlier in the year.
The first set started off with strong back-and-forth scoring from each team. As the set moved along, the squads matched each other point for point. Midway through the set, however, the Scarlet and Gray took control and eventually reached the 25-point plateau.
The second set began differently than the first. OSU stepped hard on the gas and flew ahead straight from the outset. The Buckeyes maintained control and held off the advances of the Ramblers to take the second consecutive set.
Feeling the pressure to push the match to another set, the Ramblers came out quickly in the third frame, grabbing a lead and holding off the Buckeyes for a while. The perseverance of the Scarlet and Gray proved to be the difference, though, as they pulled themselves out of the early deficit and eventually grabbed the third set to complete the sweep.
An impressive defensive performance by the Buckeyes held the Ramblers to only a .188 attack rate. Sophomore outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen, junior outside hitter Miles Johnson and senior outside hitter Christian Franceschi all contributed double-digit points for OSU. With the victory, the Buckeyes have now won all six sets they have played against the Ramblers this season.
Saturday night’s matchup was another difficult test for OSU against the Flyers.
In the first set, the Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead, but the Flyers wouldn’t go down easy. The Scarlet and Gray dug in, however, fending off the Flyers to go up 1-0.
The second set started with an OSU surge, resulting in a solid, early lead. The tone was set for the match as the Buckeyes went on to take another set and force the Flyers into desperation mode.
With their backs against the wall, the visitors were aggressive in the third set. The teams pushed back and forth, but the Flyers held off the Buckeyes and gained a two-point advantage to win the set and force a fourth frame.
The final set remained just as competitive as the third. The score stayed close as the teams tried to enforce their will. Eventually, the Buckeyes were too much for Dayton to continue to fend off, and OSU grabbed the set to win the match.
The Buckeyes had a .256 attack rate on the night while holding the Flyers to .225. Individually, Johnson added 21 points, Szerszen had 19 and junior setter Christy Blough contributed 43 assist on the night.
“I really think they were great wins for us. Those are two good teams at the top of our conference (and) we need those,” Blough said. “I thought they were both good team wins, and I think everyone contributed both nights.”
The Buckeyes are next set to travel to Long Beach, California, to take on UC Irvine on Thursday. The match is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.