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Men’s volleyball: Ohio State wins MIVA conference outright with sweep of McKendree

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Senior setter Christy Blough sets the ball for an attack at the net against UCLA at St. John Arena, January 7, 2017. Credit: Walt Middleton | Courtesy of OSU Athletics

 

The No. 1 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (25-2, 14-0 MIVA) finished a season sweep of conference foe McKendree University (9-18, 4-10 MIVA) on Saturday winning in straight sets (25-18, 26-24, 25-15) and claiming its 26th regular season Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association championship, the most in conference history. During the regular-season home finale on Saturday, seven senior Buckeyes were recognized.

“I thought we had great senior leadership this weekend,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said. “They were all very good, very focused, very energetic, and that helps guys.”

In the first set, the Buckeyes began to pull away after taking three points straight to put McKendree in an 11-6 hole. OSU controlled the remainder of the first set, taking it 25-18.

The Buckeyes attacked at a .500 clip in the first frame while the Bearcats had a .318 attack rate. McKendree stuffed OSU on two separate occasions with one solo block coming from senior opposite Maalik Walker.

The second set remained much closer than the first, with 12 ties and four lead changes. The Buckeyes took extra points to take down the Bearcats, 26-24.

In the second set of the night, the Bearcats dug six balls from the opposing side with Walker and junior setter Pasquale Fiduccia tallying three each. Their digs helped bring down OSU’s attacking rate to .444 in the second frame.

The score was tied at 12-all in the third set until the Buckeyes pulled together a 10-3 run to take a 16-9 lead. OSU remained on top for the rest of night to close the set 25-15.

Multiple Buckeyes came off the bench in the final set including senior opposite hitter Ryan Genn who killed two balls on two attempts. The Bearcats had eight kills in the set, but their seven attack errors brought their hitting rate down to .045.

Among the seniors honored on Saturday were senior middle blocker Matt Dorn and senior opposite hitter Miles Johnson. Dorn led the team in hitting efficiency, attacking at .800, while Johnson led both teams in kills with 16 for the night.

“It’s pretty crazy because the past four years have just flown by,” Johnson said. “Tonight was pretty special. It’s pretty cool to go out with all the guys you came in with, especially when you’re playing for another championship.”

The senior class will leave OSU with two regular-season MIVA championships, a MIVA tournament championship, an NCAA title and a school record 42-match win streak.

“The real gratifying thing for a coach is when you see kids get the benefit of their efforts and their hard work,” Hanson said. “They’ve got a lot of things to be proud of. There’s been a lot great players at Ohio State, and now these kids are going to be remembered as some of the great ones too.”

The Buckeyes are back in action Friday as they take on Lindenwood University at 8 p.m.

 

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