ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – Head coach Pete Hanson’s 1,000th career match extended into a 16-14 fifth set as the Scarlet & Gray battled back from an 11-8 deficit to escape Illinois with victory in hand (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 14-25, 16-14). No. 2 Ohio State (21-1) maintains its stronghold of the top spot in the MIVA standings at 10-0 while handing second-place and seventh-ranked Lewis its third conference loss (17-6, 10-3 MIVA). The Buckeyes are in pursuit of their league-best 26th regular season championship.
Hanson picked up his 666th triumph (666-334; .666). The four-time National Coach of the Year upped his MIVA career mark to 290-90 (.763) as well.
• Ohio State has recorded 20 straight wins in true road matches (last loss in an opponent’s home gym came in 2015)
• The Buckeyes are also riding a 25-match winning streak versus MIVA opponents
The reigning National Player of the Year, Nicolas Szerszen, delivered 18 kills and a total of 20.5 points. He was one of two Buckeyes to record a double-double, adding 11 digs to his kills sum. Fellow pin hitter Miles Johnson posted 13 kills and 10 digs. Maxime Hervoir found some success from the outside as well, bouncing a dozen kills.
Set 1: Ohio State swung an even .400 (12-2-25) in the opening frame, receiving multiple kills from four different players in an evenly-distributed attack set up by Christy Blough. The Buckeyes also stuffed Lewis three times, limiting the Flyers to a .238 offensive clip. A 13-13 ledger represented the 10th tied score of the set right before an 8-3 OSU run pushed the Buckeyes ahead for good in an eventual 25-22 winner.
Set 2: Lewis made a valiant comeback effort in the second, storming back from down 21-15 to pull even at 22-all. Ohio State halted the rally, however, grabbing three of the next four points to secure a 25-23 triumph entering intermission.
Set 3: Set number three mirrored the second, seeing a 22-22 tie ultimately converted into a 25-23 final score. And like a mirror, the result was flipped and the Flyers remained alive as set victors.
Set 4: The flood gates would open up midway through the fourth. Lewis burst through a 7-7 stalemate by rattling off 13 of the subsequent 15 points, building a commanding 20-9 edge. A fifth set was needed after the Flyers capped off the 25-14 equalizer.
Set 5: Trailing 11-8 in the deciding set, Hanson called a timeout to regroup. Three consecutive Buckeye kills would follow, sitting all-square at 11-11. The score was even again at 12-12, 13-13 and 14-14 before back-to-back attacking blunders committed by the Flyers gave Ohio State a thrilling triumph.
St. John Arena is the place to be next week, site of two home conference matches. Ohio State welcomes in Fort Wayne Thursday (March 23) and Ball State on Saturday (March 25).