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Men’s volleyball: Ohio State regains home-court advantage with sweep of Fort Wayne

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OSU redshirt sophomore middle blocker Blake Leeson goes to serve in the set against No. 4 Long Beach State. OSU won 3-1. Credit: Aliyyah Jackson | Lantern Reporter

The No. 2 Ohio State Men’s Volleyball team (22-1) returned home from a two-game road trip and defeated Fort Wayne (5-19) in straight sets (25-11, 25-11, 25-16) on Thursday.

The Buckeyes entered the match off of two straight road wins against No. 10 Loyola and No. 7 Lewis, after losing for the first time in 42 consecutive matches on Mar. 11 against fifth-ranked UC Irvine.

With limited minutes for junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen and senior opposite hitter Miles Johnson, junior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir and senior opposite hitter Ryan Genn stepped up and combined for 21 of the Buckeyes’ 30 kills.

It took no time for the Buckeyes to return to its winning ways at St. John’s Arena. OSU defeated Fort Wayne 25-11 in the first set, combining for eight kills on eight assists. The Buckeyes also had a 5-0 run in the middle of the set to help secure the 14-point set victory. However, the Mastodons really struggled on the attack, combining for a negative-.211 hit percentage with nine attack errors and four service errors.

“Fort Wayne helped us a lot,” Hanson said. “They just made a lot of unforced errors. We really didn’t have to play great to get a lot of those points, but I thought our guys were really focused.”

The momentum did not stop after the first set. Redshirt senior middle blocker Driss Guessous started the second set with a kill and OSU never looked back. The Buckeyes won six straight points and went on an 11-1 run, leading to a 25-11 second set win over the Mastodons. Genn shined in the second set, recording five of the Buckeyes’ 10 kills in the set.

With extended playing time, Genn was ready to show people what he could do on the court.

“Coach tells us always to be really aggressive, so I was just thinking that mentality from the service line and from an attacking point,” Genn said. “It worked out pretty well for me today.”

The Buckeyes won the third set 25-16, with Hervoir scoring six of OSU’s 12 kills.

Hanson was very pleased with the junior after he led the team with 11 kills.

“Max had a great night, got the ball in rhythm, hit some really good shots,” Hanson said. “We need Max to kind of be that offensive force, but I think we have always known that he is a pretty good blocker, a real good defender. If we can continue to get a little more offense out of him as we go forward, that’s just going to take more pressure off of Nick (Szerszen) and Miles (Johnson).”

With a home win under the Buckeyes’ belt, OSU will next take on a familiar foe in No. 11 Ball State.

“Ball State is going to be a tough match,” Genn said. “It always is. They are always a pretty scrappy team and whenever we play them, it’s always a tight-knit match. I’m excited.”

The Buckeyes and Cardinals will show down at St. John Arena Saturday night at 7 p.m.

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