Buckeyes Bearing Down on Conference Crown
April 5, 2018

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The No. 7 Ohio State University Men's Volleyball is on the prowl for its league-best 27th Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular season championship. It will not be easy, however, as the Buckeyes must travel through No. 15 Fort Wayne and No. 12 Ball State in order to guarantee at least a share of the MIVA crown. The final two conference contests will take place Friday and Saturday (Apr. 6-7), respectively.


WEEKLY BASICS
Friday, April 6 | Fort Wayne, Ind. (Gates Sports Center)
7 p.m. ET - No. 7 Ohio State (19-4, 10-2 MIVA) at No. 15 Fort Wayne (17-9, 5-7 MIVA)
Live Stats
Video Stream: Mastodon All-Access

Saturday, April 7 | Muncie, Ind. (John E. Worthen Arena)
7:30 p.m. ET - No. 7 Ohio State at No. 12 Ball State (15-11, 8-4 MIVA)
Live Stats
Video Stream: ESPN3/ESPN app


Complete Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader

HISTORY WITH THE MASTODONS AND CARDINALS
Ohio State clashes with the Mastodons for the 115th occurrence on Friday, entering with a 77-37 upper hand and winners of eight straight. During the eight-match winning streak, the Buckeyes have dropped a lone set.

Ohio State has faced Ball State more than any other opponent by a large margin. Saturday will be the 182nd all-time meeting between the two long-time MIVA rivals, a total which is nearly 60 percent more than the second-most (OSU has met both Penn State and Fort Wayne 114 times). The Buckeyes own a 98-83 edge over the Cardinals including five in a row.

A LOT ON THE LINE IN HOOSIER COUNTRY
While Ohio State needs two wins to clinch at least a share of the 2018 MIVA regular season title and the conference tourney's top seed, Ball State and Fort Wayne would also benefit greatly from a win or two. The Cardinals enter at 8-4 in league play and third in the standings whle the Mastodons are 5-7 but just two games back from a potential top-four seed and MIVA Quarterfinals hosting rights.

KINGS OF THE MIVA
Ohio State has hoisted a league-best 26 MIVA regular season trophies, followed by Ball State and its 21 championships. The next three in order are Fort Wayne (6), Loyola (5) and Lewis (4). The Buckeyes and Cardinals have combined to capture over 70 percent of the MIVA regular season trophies all-time.

FRIENDLY CONFINES
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 553-104 (.842) all-time home record.

TOP-10 TRENDS
Ohio State remains ranked inside of the AVCA Coaches Poll Top-10 for the 40th consecutive time this week. During that stretch which dates back over three years (Apr. 4, 2015), the Buckeyes were the No. 1-slotted team 40% of the time (16 of 40 polls).

Last time outside the Top-10: April 4, 2015
Last time unranked (Top-15): Final poll of 2014

`SUNNY' STEERING THE OFFENSE
Sanil `Sunny' Thomas sits atop the country's assists per set rankings, dishing out an NCAA-best 11.26 helpers per set. The Buckeye offense is attacking .341 under Thomas' direction, ranking fourth nationally.

CONFERENCE'S TOP OFFENSE
Ohio State's offensive attack is the best in the MIVA, pacing all conference schools in hitting percentage (.341), kills per set (13.31) and aces per set (1.88). The Buckeyes are slotted Top-5 nationally in all of those statistical categories. On the defensive side, Ohio State also leads the league by holding the opposition to a .208 team hitting percentage (fifth best in the NCAA).

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 1,556 kills are nearly 400 clear of second-best TJ DeFalco of Long Beach State at 1,183 kills. From the service stripe, Szerszen has sniped the opposition 219 times while Robert Poole (Mount Olive) ranks second with 174 career service aces. The 219 career aces represent the fourth most in NCAA history and third highest mark during the rally scoring era (2001-2018).

In addition, Szerszen is attacking at a .372 clip for his career, the best among all active outside hitters.

HANSON NEARING ANOTHER MILESTONE
Head coach Pete Hanson is four wins away from becoming just the third coach in NCAA men's volleyball history to reach 700 total career victoires. He owns an overall record of 696-338 (.673) and can soon join Al Scates (UCLA, 1963-2012; 1,239 wins) and Don Shondell (Ball State, 1964, 1966-98; 769 wins) in the 700-Win Club. Ranking fourth on the all-time list is Fort Wayne's Arnie Ball (1981-2015) with 574 triumphs.

MIVA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Nicolas Szerszen and Maxime Hervoir have combined to snag the last three MIVA Offensive Player of the Week awards. Four different Buckeyes have been honored in 2018:
Jake Hanes (Offensive; Jan. 30)
Maxime Hervoir (Offensive; March 6, Apr. 3)
Aaron Samarin (Defensive; March 6)
Nicolas Szerszen (Offensive; March 20, March 27) | 11 career MIVA weekly honors