Home sweet home indeed. The No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes capped a 32-2 season with their second-straight NCAA men’s volleyball title, picking up a sweep of No. 3 seed BYU in front of a home crowd of 8,205 at St. John Arena on Saturday night. In four previous hosting opportunities, the Buckeyes hadn’t even made the championship match. On Saturday, they didn’t just appear in the finale, they dominated it to captured their third men’s volleyball crown (also 2011, 2016).
Final point and celebration for the @OhioState_MVB Championship! pic.twitter.com/4bWtw5Svgv
— AVCA (@AVCAVolleyball) May 7, 2017
As defending champions and event hosts, the Buckeyes had a target on their backs for most of the 2017 season, yet the team managed to persevere. Included the 32-2 mark was a perfect 16-0 MIVA mark, its 26th MIVA title and the extension of a school record win streak to 42 matches (dating from Feb. 6, 2016 to March 10, 2017).
“It was a tough year to coach because you knew everybody wanted that Super Bowl matchup with Ohio State,” said Pete Hanson, who is in his 33rd year at the helm of the OSU squad. “The kids handled it marvelously. They did lose two matches but they just kept grinding, they kept playing and they kept believing that if we got to this point, this would happen.This was huge for our community to see this happen on our floor and for our kids to get the win and reiterate to Buckeye nation that this is a good thing going on.”
Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in 11 of the 16 AVCA polls and No. 2 in the other five. The Buckeyes were the top ranked team from the preseason poll through the March 6 poll, while building an 18-0 mark. The two blemishes on an otherwise perfect slate came in a sweep at the hands of No. 6 UC Irvine (March 11) and a five-set road heartbreaker No. 13 Penn State (March 28). All told, the Buckeyes played 18 matches against ranked foes.
The road to the title went through No. 4 Hawaii and No. 3 BYU. In fact, the Buckeyes played each of the other five teams in the NCAA Championships field during the season (also Long Beach State, Barton College and Penn State).
The Buckeyes deservingly garnered multiple postseason honors, including MIVA Coach of the Year for Hanson, who coached in his 1,000th career match. Outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen garnered his second straight MIVA Player of the Year honor, while setter Christy Blough and opposite Miles Johnson joined him on the league’s first team listing. Libero Gabriel Domecus and middle blocker Driss Guessous were MIVA second teamers. On the national stage, all five players earned AVCA All-America laurels, with Johnson and Szerszen earning first team nods, Blough taking second team honors and Domecus and Guessous nabbing honorable mention acclaim.
“Nick (Szerszen) was the Player of the Year tonight,” Hanson said after Saturday’s title match. “He didn’t get that award for the year, but he got it tonight. He was marvelous. He is a big time player when the situation is the biggest.”
The full roster and staff for the 2017 NCAA Champions are listed below.
|No.||Name||Pos.||Ht.||Yr.||Hometown (Prev School)|
|1||Aaron Samarin||Libero||6-0||JR||Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan H.S.)|
|2||Andrew Hillman||Setter||6-3||FR||Allentown, Pa. (Parkland H.S.)|
|3||Tyler Alter||Outside Hitter||6-4||FR||Laguna Beach, Calif. (Laguna Beach H.S.)|
|4||Driss Guessous||Middle Blocker||6-8||RS SR||Pasadena, Calif. (Loyola H.S.)|
|5||Christy Blough||Setter||6-5||SR||Ontario, N.Y. (McQuaid Jesuit H.S.)|
|6||Darcy Taig||Outside Hitter||6-6||RS FR||McKinnon, Victoria (Australia) (McKinnon Secondary College H.S.)|
|7||Gabriel Domecus||Libero/Outside Hitter||6-3||SR||Vallejo, Calif. (St. Patrick-St. Vincent H.S.)|
|8||Reese Devilbiss||Outside Hitter||6-2||FR||Manchester, Pa. (Northeastern H.S.)|
|9||Nicolas Szerszen||Outside Hitter||6-4||JR||Conflans Ste Hne, France (Lycee International)|
|10||Ryan Genn||Opposite||6-4||SR||Pleasanton, Calif. (University of the Pacific)|
|11||Blake Leeson||Middle Blocker||6-7||RS SO||Mequon, Wis. (Homestead H.S.)|
|12||Zach Yerington||Middle Blocker||6-5||RS FR||Hamburg, N.Y. (Hamburg H.S.)|
|13||Miles Johnson||Opposite||6-6||SR||Carlsbad, Calif. (La Costa Canyon H.S.)|
|14||Shawn Hughes||Outside Hitter||6-4||FR||St. Louis, Mo. (St. Louis University H.S.)|
|15||Matt Dorn||Middle Blocker||6-5||SR||San Diego, Calif. (University of the Pacific)|
|16||Jake Hanes||Opposite||6-10||FR||Orland Park, Ill. (Carl Sandburg H.S.)|
|17||Josh Tublin||Libero||5-10||RS JR||Pittsburgh, Pa. (Fox Chapel H.S.)|
|18||Dejon Clark||Outside Hitter/Opposite||6-5||FR||Pickerington, Ohio (Pickerington North H.S.)|
|19||Sanil Thomas||Setter/Libero||6-0||SO||Tinley Park, Ill. (Victor J. Andrew H.S.)|
|20||Paul Henken||Setter||6-3||FR||St. Louis, Mo. (St. Louis University H.S.)|
|21||Nick Laffin||Middle Blocker||6-5||RS JR||Holbrook, N.Y. (Sachem East H.S.)|
|22||Jason Bruggemann||Middle Blocker||6-5||FR||Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller H.S.)|
|23||Maxime Hervoir||Outside Hitter||6-3||JR||Royan, France (IUT Informatique Montpellier)|