COLUMBUS, Ohio - The AVCA Showcase is hosted by UCLA Jan. 18-20 at Pauley Pavilion, site of the 2018 NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship in early May. The weekend also marks the third annual "Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge" with Ohio State and Penn State taking on USC and UCLA on altering nights. For the '18 edition, the third-ranked Buckeyes (2-1) face No. 13 USC (3-2) Thursday (Jan. 18) and the host Bruins (4-0 and ranked second nationally) on Saturday (Jan. 20).
Ohio State vs. USC | Thursday, Jan. 18 | 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT
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BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN/PAC-12 CHALLENGE
Ohio State is 3-1 in the 'Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge' since its inception in 2016. The Buckeyes have topped USC in both seasons while splitting the two meetings against UCLA (win in 2017, loss in 2016).
BATTLE WAGES FOR TIME AT OPPOSITE
Replacing First Team All-American Miles Johnson, a 2017 graduate, has been the responsibility of a committee through the first three matches of 2018. Martin Lallemand got the starting nod at opposite hitter for the season opener vs. North Greenville before Reese Devilbiss and Jake Hanes each recorded a start last week versus Stanford and BYU, respectively.
ONE UP, ONE DOWN
Ohio State, which competes in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) for men's volleyball, faced a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) programs last week (Jan. 13-14) at St. John Arena. The Buckeyes started by topping Stanford in four sets before suffering a five-set defeat to BYU. Both USC and UCLA are also members of the MPSF for men's volleyball.
BUCKEYE FLOCK TAKES THE COURT
Thirteen Buckeyes saw action in the first contest of 2018, each contributing to a 3-0 trumph over North Greenville. Head coach Pete Hanson was able to dispatch a different `starting 6' in all three sets, getting a look at multiple combinations of players.
ATOP THE HEAP
Ohio State maintains its top standing in this week's AVCA Coaches Poill. It marks the 15th time in the last 20 polls (dating back to the 2016 final poll) in which the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 by the panel of 26 head coaches.
The last six NCAA men's volleyball titles have come as back-to-back accomplishments with UC Irvine taking the crown in 2012-13, followed by Loyola in 2013-14 and the Buckeyes grabbing the two most recent championships. The last school to rattle off three straight, however, was UCLA in the mid-80s when the Bruins actually strung together four consecutive from 1981-84.
SZERSZEN -- PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Senior Buckeye Nicolas Szerszen received the most votes in the country for the `Off The Block' Preseason All-America Teams, grabbing a spot on the First Team. Its marks the second straight season he was the top vote-getter. Blake Leeson, a redshirt junior, also received votes for the 2018 Preseason All-America recognition.
Szerszen has been named a National Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, earning the honor from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in 2016 and Volleyball Magazine in 2017.
TRIO SELECTED FOR PRESEASON ALL-MIVA
Three Buckeyes received Preseason All-MIVA accolades to start 2018, highlighted by Nicolas Szerszen as the `18 Preseaon Player of the Year. Maxime Hervoir and Blake Leeson were also voted to the Preseason All-MIVA Team.