Men's volleyball: Ohio State wins top-5 tilt with Long Beach State in 4 sets
COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 1 Ohio State (9-0) continued to ride a 32-match winning streak, topping No. 4 Long Beach State (7-2) in four sets. The Buckeye run ties an all-time school record of 32 consecutive victories previously accomplished back in 1969-70 (a 24-0 1969 season followed by eight wins to start the '70 campaign).
The team winning streak was not the only record broken Saturday night inside St. John Arena, however. The first came at 7:33 p.m. ET when Miles Johnson's 124th career service ace gave him the school record. Teammate Nicolas Szerszen quickly matched him 37 minutes later (8:10) to pull even with Johnson atop the all-time OSU ace rankings. Both Buckeyes surpassed previous record holder, Steve Potter (1992-1995), to reach the top.
Johnson and Szerszen provided a large portion of the Buckeye offense, combining for 38 kills and each swinging over .300. Johnson terminated 22 balls at a .395 attacking clip while Szerszen chipped in 16 kills on a .312 hitting percentage. Maxime Hervoir contributed from the pins as well, knocking home eight kills. Christy Blough returned to his starting position after taking Friday night off, averaging more than a dozen assists per set in steering the OSU offense to the tune of a .342 team hitting percentage.
Defensively, Gabriel Domecus led the way digging 14 balls. The Buckeye libero has posted 45 digs in the last 13 sets spanning four Ohio State victories in the past two weeks.
• Ohio State is riding a 32-match winning streak, tying the school record previously set in 1969-70.
• The Buckeyes last suffered an NCAA loss on February 6, 2016.
• Ohio State has won 96 of 115 sets (83 percent) during the victorious stretch.
• The streak includes six wins over top 5 opponents and nearly half (15) against teams ranked inside the top 12 nationally.
• Also included in the run are 14 straight wins in true road games.
• Loyola owns a 40-match run in 2014-15, while UCLA is believed to own the all-time record of 47 straight.
Set 1: Johnson wasted no time making his mark on the historic victory, delivering his first of eight of kills in the opening set on rally No. 1. His third kill ended the 12th point of the night, putting an end to a wild rally which lasted an entire 60 seconds.
Ohio State built a 13-6 upper hand before The Beach ripped off four in a row to slice the deficit down to 13-10. That three-point margin held steady in a final ledger of 25-22 in favor of the Scarlet & Gray.
Set 2: Johnson's record-breaking 124th career ace lifted Ohio State on top 6-4 through 10 points of set No. 2. Leads were short-lived for both squads in the second stanza, however, resulting in 13 tied scores and a half dozen lead changes. The final stalemate came unhitched on back-to-back points for Long Beach State at 24-24, a 26-24 LBSU triumph to even the score one set apiece at the intermission.
Set 3: Consecutive aces from Szerszen not only gave Ohio State a 6-3 advantage but also ended Johnson's 37-minute grip of sole possession of the OSU aces record. Both Buckeyes also posted five kills in the third frame as Ohio State seized a 25-21 winner.
Set 4: Déjà vu struck in the fourth, another 26-24 score witnessing 13 ties. It was Ohio State coming out on top this time though, closing out the top 5 victory. Johnson crushed eight more kills attacking .636 while Hervoir served as a superb sidekick with five kills on eight error-free attempts (.625). The Buckeyes climbed out of a 19-15 hole late in the set, capping the night by going on an 11-5 spurt.
The 32-match winning streak in 1969-70 was snapped by Ball State. Ironically, Ohio State's next opponent in 2017 in the Cardinals of Ball State on Thursday in Muncie, Indiana.