-- BTN Student U (@BTNStudentU) March 30, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The No. 9 Ohio State University men's volleyball team wrestled control of its own destiny in pursuit of a conference-best 27th Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular season championship and the top seed for the conference tournament by beating No. 6 Loyola (19-5, 9-2 MIVA) in four sets (25-20, 25-16, 39-41, 25-19). Maxime Hervoir shouldered the largest load offensively, connecting on a career-high 24 kills while attacking .463 to lift Ohio State (18-4, 9-2 MIVA) to victory.
With the win, Ohio State now sits in the driver's seat for the MIVA Tournament No. 1 seed. If the Buckeyes win each of the last three matches, which is no small task facing three consecutive Top-15 squads, they clinch at least a share of the MIVA regular season title and hosting duties throughout the league tourney as the top seed. If Ohio State and Loyola Chicago finish with identical MIVA marks, the Buckeyes would win the No. 1-seed tiebreaker because of a 5-to-4 sets won advantage in the season series against the Ramblers.
Hervoir continues to bring his game to a new level as a senior, this marking his fourth match of 20 or more kills this season after posting no such totals a year ago. He was not only effective, but also very efficient; evidenced by a .463 hitting percentage (24-5-41). Hervoir was not a one-man show by any means though, flanked by Nicolas Szerszen and his 24 points (20 kills, three aces and two block assists). Ohio State also received a boost from the middle as Nick Laffin and Blake Leeson combined for 16 kills at a .560 attacking rate.
During the current seven-match winning streak, Laffin and Leeson have committed just 16 errors on 159 attempts with 94 kills (.491).
SET 1: Ohio State opened full of gusto, racing ahead 6-1 and leading by as many as seven points at 18-11 and 19-12. The Ramblers trimmed the deficit by a pair of points by set's end before falling 25-20.
SET 2: Hervoir erased the memories of a not-so-hot first set personally, exploding for eight kills on 10 error-free attempts in the second. He also assisted on two of Ohio State's four blocks, limiting the Ramblers to a .200 hitting efficiency. Hervoir's eight kills nearly matched Loyola's team total of nine. Despite leading from the jump, Ohio State failed to shake the Ramblers until Szerszen stepped to the service line at 20-16. He followed with a patented Szerszen serving onslaught, surrounding an ace with additional missiles to set up easy kills for his teammates during a five-point run to wrap it up 25-20.
SET 3: Insanity came next. Action blew past 25 points and ultimately reached the 40's before a victor was crowned. Both sides earned nine different set-point opportunities, combining to fail on converting the first 17 attempts at ending the frame. Nearly an entire hour passed before the Ramblers finally put an end to it on their ninth match extension opportunity, winning the frame 41-39.
SET 4: The Buckeyes left little doubt in the fourth, responding to the disappointing 41-39 marathon by blowing past Loyola with 15 kills and a .407 hitting percentage. Ohio State also out-dug the Ramblers 16-6, receiving a half dozen digs alone from Szerszen. The Buckeyes kept the pressure on throughout, closing the door at 25-19.
'Senior Night' is set for Saturday (March 31) when Ohio State hosts No. 10 Lewis at 7 p.m. ET.