Ohio State men's volleyball captures program's second title in five years
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2016 NCAA men's volleyball national champion is The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes defeated top-seeded Brigham Young University (27-4) in a three-set sweep (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) to secure the program's second national championship -- five years to the date after capturing the 2011 title in the same facility (Rec Hall).
Four different Buckeyes recorded double-digit kills in the NCAA Finals, paced by 15 kills for the event's MVP Miles Johnson. Ohio State's most effective damage came from the middle, however, as Driss Guessous and Blake Leeson combined for 21 kills on 27 attacks. Leeson exploded for 11 terminations on 13 errorless swings to claim his spot on the all-tournament squad. Christy Blough averaged nearly 15 assists per set, steering the OSU offense to a .374 team attacking efficiency on 44 assists. The Buckeyes served BYU out of the gym with eight aces in the straight-sets victory.
Johnson got it going right from the jump, slapping seven kills in the opening frame. A first period which witnessed 21 tied scores; repeat, twenty-one tied scores as BYU had it going offensively as well though, ultimately earning the night's first set point at 24-23. The Cougars would go on to obtain six more set-point opportunities, each one denied by the Scarlet & Gray. Ohio State, meanwhile, capitalized immediately on the very first set point chance. A block from Christian Franceschi and Leeson led to Johnson's set-clinching kill at 32-20.
While Ohio State out-killed the Cougars 18-10 in the second stanza, BYU accumulated five blocks to keep the score tight. The Buckeyes trailed 19-16 and burned a timeout. Ohio State responded to the break in action by seizing four of the next five points and knotting the score at 20-all. Momentum remained clad in Scarlet as the Buckeyes garnered a 24-21 edge moments later and ultimately closed it out, 25-23.
Just as they had all season long, the Buckeyes continue to pour it on from the baseline in the third frame - to the tune of five service aces in the clinching set. A mid-set serving barrage from National Player of the Year Nicolas Szerszen virtually sealed the deal. The Buckeye sophomore teamed with kills from Johnson and Leeson to go on a five-point run. Szerszen connected on three service aces during the five-point spurt launching Ohio State ahead 13-7. Franceschi would follow with an elongated service stint of his own, unleashing five consecutive serves to lift the Buckeyes on top 21-12. From there it was smooth sailing as the Scarlet & Gray cruised to a 25-17 championship closer.
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• Ohio State concludes the season 31-3 for the most wins since the '78 Buckeyes went 32-3
• Ohio State wrapped up the season riding a 23-match winning streak
• Ohio State has not suffered a loss since Feb. 6, a span over three full months
• Ohio State won 69 of 85 sets during the victorious stretch
• The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association has won three consecutive national championships and four of the last six (Ohio State 2011, 2016; Loyola 2014, 2015)
• Ohio State represented the National Champions, National Coach of the Year (Pete Hanson) and the National Player of the Year (Nicolas Szerszen) in 2016
• Ohio State assistant coach Kevin Burch has now been on the coaching staff of an NCAA national championship program for six consecutive seasons, beginning with the 2011 OSU Men's Volleyball title in 2011 as the program volunteer assistant coach
• Ohio State fended off seven set-point chances for BYU in the opening set
• Miles Johnson was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Valuable Player
• Blake Leeson and Nicolas Szerszen joined Johnson on the All-NCAA Tournament Team