Ohio State captures first national title
Buckeyes knock off UCSB in five sets to win 2011 championship
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Add another title to Ohio State’s championship resume.
Shawn Sangrey had a game-high 30 kills and the Buckeyes rallied to beat UC Santa Barbara 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 15-9 on Saturday to win their first NCAA men’s volleyball crown.
It’s just the third time a team outside of the West has claimed the title. Penn State won in 1994 and 2008.
The Gauchos (18-15) trailed 2-1 but took the fourth set in part to stellar play at the net by fiery leader Jeff Menzel. He finished with 12 kills and Cullen Irons had 16.
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But Ohio State (26-6) closed the match with a 5-0 run, capped by a block on Menzel that started the Buckeyes’ party in Happy Valley.
UCSB had put together a surprising postseason run that included back-to-back wins against top-ranked Southern California.
The Gauchos had said all week they play their best when faced with elimination, and they came close to proving it again.
The Buckeyes were pushed to the limit and responded in the final set. Sangrey’s powerful right arm overwhelmed the Gauchos, and setter Steven Kehoe deftly set up the offense with 65 assists. Kehoe won the tournament MVP award.
The Buckeyes celebrated by singing the Ohio State alma mater in front of more than four dozen red-clad fans, rocking back and forth in unison while wearing their new black championships hats. It was an odd sight in Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State, a fierce Big Ten football rival.
After Ohio State’s mistake-filled first set featuring nine service errors, the Buckeyes regrouped in an entertaining second set highlighted by terrific defense and long rallies. They pulled away with a 12-4 run that included four kills from Sangrey.
Lewis University, a Division II school in Romeoville, Ill., won the 2003 title but that was later vacated for using ineligible players.