COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 9 Ohio State University men’s volleyball team (11-4, 4-2 MIVA) treks to Lebanon, Ill., this weekend for MIVA matches on back-to-back nights at McKendree University (6-8, 3-3 MIVA). The two league mates square off Friday and Saturday evening (March 2-3) with 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT starts.
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HISTORY WITH THE BEARCATS
The Buckeyes have been victorious in all seven previous meetings with McKendree, a short series which started in 2015 when the Bearcats joined the MIVA. Ohio State has recorded three consecutive sweeps after winning each of the first four matchups in four sets. This weekend marks just the second trip to Lebanon for Ohio State.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Last week, Ohio State began a five-week stint competing away from home after hosting Quincy on Feb. 18. The Buckeyes will play eight matches overall during the stretch before returning to the friendly confines of St. John Arena. The home of Ohio State men’s volleyball was treated the Buckeyes well over the last 50-plus seasons, serving as the stage for a 551-104 (.841) all-time home record.
By dropping a pair of road matches vs. Top-10 foes last week at Lewis and Loyola, a few impressive streaks from the Buckeyes came to end:
• Ohio State had won 38 consecutive matches vs. MIVA opponents dating back to Feb. 6, 2016
• Ohio State had been ranked inside the Top-5 for 35 straight AVCA Coaches Polls
• Ohio State had not suffered back-to-back losses since the same two teams topped the Buckeyes on April 17-18, 2015
• Ohio State had won eight straight matches overall this season
‘SUNNY’ STEERING THE OFFENSE
Sanil ‘Sunny’ Thomas is the new sheriff in town when it comes to running the Ohio State offense, taking control of full-time setting duties this season. The junior from Tinley Park, Ill., is averaging 10.80 assists per set through the first 15 matches, the third-highest average in the country.
HANES EMERGING AS LETHAL WEAPON Redshirt freshman Jake Hanes is making waves nationally as one of the NCAA’s top offensive forces through the first eight weeks of the season. He has stepped into the role of opposite hitter vacated by All-American Miles Johnson’s graduation, filing in admirably.
Hanes entered the week pacing the conference and among the Top-20 nationally for kills, points and aces: 4.04 kills/set (5th in NCAA), 4.74 points/set (6th), .48 aces/set (19th).
NO ONE COMPARES WITH Nicolas Szerszen Senior Buckeye Nicolas Szerszen is not only the NCAA’s active career leader in kills and service aces, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of the next closest player. His 1,439 kills are more than 300 clear of second-best Tanner Syftestad from UC San Diego at 1,105 kills. From the service stripe, Szerszen has sniped the opposition 198 times while King College’s Nick Drooker ranks second at 162 career service aces.