Ohio State Squeaks Past UC Irvine in Five, Advances to NCAA Final Four

  0 Wendy Mayer | May 01st, 2018 | Big West, College - Men's Indoor, MPSF, News


  • Ohio State def. UC Irvine 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14
  • Ohio State moves to 25-5; UC Irvine falls to 21-10
  • Ohio State advances to the Final Four to face Long Beach State on Thursday
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Box Score

LOS ANGELES  – A strong service game and relentless hitting nights by senior outside Nicolas Szerszen and redshirt freshman opposite Jake Hanes lifted Ohio State to a thrilling five-set win over UC Irvine Tuesday night. The win marked the Buckeyes’ 16th-straight post-season win, which includes the last two NCAA titles.

The Buckeyes served up nine aces, including eight off of the hand of Hanes, third most in the NCAA this season, and boasted a 68-54 lead in kills to edge past the Anteaters, coming from behind in Set 5 for the victory. For its part, UCI outhit OSU .342 to .305, including a .579 effort in Set 4, and outblocked Ohio State 9.5 to 5.

Hanes and Szerszen turned in 22 kills apiece, with each hitting .340 or better. Hanes tacked on eight aces and seven digs, while Szerszen rounded out a double-double with a team-best 10 digs. Senior outside Maxime Hervoir chipped in 13 kills and six digs, but hit just .114 in the match. Redshirt senior middle Nick Laffin added five putaways on a team-high .625 clip, while redshirt junior middle Blake Leeson turned in six kills and an ace.

The Anteaters opted for a balanced attack with eight players notching kills, including double-digit efforts from junior opposite Karl Apfelbach (15), sophomore middle Scott Stadick (12) and sophomore middle Matthew Younggren (11). Younggren hit at a match-high .688 clip with 11 kills on 16 errorless swings. Stadick paced the team at the net with a match-high seven stuffs, while Apfelbach turned in four blocks and one of the team’s two aces.

UC Irvine used a 5-2 run, including three OSU miscues, to go up 9-7 in the decisive fifth set. The Buckeyes evened the score at 9 with a Laffin kill and a rare block, a triple stuff by Leeson, Thomas and Szerszen. The teams traded points over the next eight serves leading to a 13-all score.  An ace gave Ohio State the first match point try, but Apfelbach answered with a kill to thwart the attempt. From there, it was a stuff by Laffin and setter Sanil Thomas and a final putaway by Szerszen that claimed the Buckeye victory and sent them on to Thursday’s Final Four.

“First of all congratulations to UC Irvine for an incredibly well played season and a well-played match tonight,” Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said. “They proved they deserved to be in this tournament and they gave us everything that had and we certainly gave them everything we had tonight. But, in the end it comes down to making a couple of plays at the right time and we had some guys do that. It wasn’t for lack of UC Irvine trying to stop us. It was a great match. Our guys just now have a chance to play another day.”

Szerszen paced OSU with a 5-for-7 effort in Set 1, while the Buckeyes outhit UC Irvine .364 to .174. The team also had help from four kills and three aces by Hanes. Matt Younggren led UCI with a 3-for-4 effort but it was not enough. Ohio State scored three in a row, two on Anteater miscues, to take a 7-5 lead, one which it would not relinquish. The Buckeyes pushed ahead 17-10 with a 6-0 run, including three straight aces by Hanes. UCI was back within four at 20-16 after kills by Koubi, Younggren, Patrick Sohacki and Stadick, but would get no closer. A Szerszen putaway gave OSU a set-point try at 24-18 and a service error clinched the win two points later.

The Anteaters leveled the match with a 25-22 Set 2 win, including a .364 to .094 advantage in hitting percentage, aided by four stuffs. Ohio State led by as many as three at 13-10. Later in the set, UCI trailed 17-15, but turned things around with a 6-1 run, including a kill and a block by Schneidmiller and a pair of OSU miscues. Irvine boosted its lead to four at 24-20 earning a set-point attempt on a stuff by Younggren and Apfelbach. A service error and an ace kept the set going, before a Buckeye missed serve gave UCI the 25-22 win.

After trailing 16-15 in Set 3, the Buckeyes scored seven of the next 10 to jump ahead 23-19. Two UCI miscues and two Szerszen putaways guided OSU in the rally. The Anteaters sliced the margin to one at 23-22 after a block and a kill by Schneidmiller and a Buckeye hitting error. Irvine returned the favor with a hitting error to give Ohio State set point at 24-22 and Hanes came through with the final kill at 25-23.

UC Irvine claimed an early 5-2 lead in Set 4, thanks to four OSU miscues, and never relinquished it. After a tie at 6, three more Buckeye errors and kills by four different players gave the Anteaters a 13-9 advantage. Ohio State was within two five times, last at 18-16, before UCI put it out of reach with a 4-1 run, featuring two blocks and a kill by Stadick. Down 22-17, OSU got help from three straight Anteater errors to make it 22-20, but could not break through. A Stadick kill and Buckeye service error put Irvine on the hill at 24-21. Younggren ended the set at 25-22 with his career-high ninth putaway.


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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for Volleymob.com after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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