COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the first time in 291 days, Ohio State men's volleyball tasted defeat Saturday night at St. John Arena. The sixth-ranked Cougars of BYU (3-1) knocked off the No. 1 Buckeyes (2-1) in five sets (21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 15-8). A total of 28 service blunders stunted Ohio State's efforts emphatically.
Maxime Hervoir and Nicolas Szerszen combined for 39 kills, attacking .359 and .351, respectively. Blake Leeson finished as the squad's most efficient offensive weapon at .692 with nine kills on 13 error-free attempts. Defensively, Aaron Samarin's nine digs paced all players in the match.
While Ohio State recorded 11 more kills than the Cougars, a 12-3 BYU blocking edge paired with the aforementioned Buckeye serving gaffes erased the kills advantage. Both high-powered offenses attacked at a high rate through the first four sets before defensive prowess prevailed in the fifth and final frame.
SET 1: Ohio State overcame 11 service errors by attacking .750 (18-0-24) in the opening set. Hervoir and Szerszen led the way with six kills apiece and Jakes Hanes wasn't far behind at four kills. After terminating all four attacks in Friday night's fourth set, Hanes did the same in this 25-21 triumphant first frame.
SET 2: The final tally remained the same in set number two, but flip-flopped sides of the scoreboard. BYU went ahead for good early at 4-3 and never relinquished the upper hand en route to a 25-21 winner of their own.
SET 3: Despite five kills each from Hervoir and Szerszen in the third, Ohio State fell back two sets to one on a 25-20 downer. BYU jumped ahead for good at 8-7 this time around.
SET 4: The night's most highly-contested set came next, evidenced by 13 tied scores and four lead changes in the fourth. Ohio State limited the self-inflicted damage at the stripe to three serving errors and out-dug BYU 11-6. Tied 15-15, Sanil Thomas stepped to the line and delivered a sensational serving performance. After the first of two aces, he unleashed two more lasers which the Cougar libero could only muster an overpass right in the direction of Leeson. The Buckeye middle blocker cranked both balls to the ground. Thomas then came back and ripped the other ace. Both aces were timeout-triggering plays for BYU as Ohio State flew past BYU 19-15. An Hervoir kill would seal the deal moments later, 25-21 for the Scarlet & Gray.
SET 5: BYU came out guns blazing in the fifth, securing the first three rallies. Ohio State countered immediately with three consecutive points of their own, however. The ledger remained even at 5-5 before the Cougars sprinted to a 10-3 match-clinching run.
Ohio State gets back it next week, venturing west to participating in the third annual Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge. The Buckeyes will take on No. 12 USC Thursday (Jan. 18) night on the campus of UCLA. The No. 3 Bruins await Ohio State on Saturday (Jan. 20).