Stage Set for NCAA Men’s Title Match

  0 Wendy Mayer | May 06th, 2017 | College - Men's Indoor, MIVA, MPSF

NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship

May 6, 2017 / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN2

St. John Arena / Columbus, Ohio


Watch / Live Stats

In a rematch of the 2016 title match, No. 1 seed and event host Ohio State will take on No. 3 seed BYU for the 2017 National Championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.  Last year, the seeds were reversed when the teams played in University Park, Pennsylvania, and the Buckeyes won via sweep (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) on May 7.

A Look Back at the 2016 Title Match

The top players from both squads are back in 2017. For the Buckeyes, opposite Miles Johnson posted 15 kills and two aces. Middle Blake Leeson added 11 kills, while hitting at an amazing .846 clip (11 kills, no errors, 13 swings). Outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen and middle Driss Guessous both chipped in 10 kills. Guesseous accounted for three of OSU’s four blocks, while Szerszen served up three of the team’s eight aces. Ohio State (30-2) hit at a .374 clip as a team in the match.

For the Cougars, outside Brenden Sander accounted for 14 kills, while hitting at a .500 clip. Opposite Ben Patch chipped in 10 kills, seven digs and four blocks. Middle Price Jarman and outside Jake Langlois put up five blocks apiece as BYU outblocked the Buckeyes 12.5 to four. BYU ended its season at 27-4.

How They Got Here

Ohio State defeated Hawaii 3-0 in the semifinals Thursday night to earn its spot in the title match. BYU won a play-in match against Barton College on Tuesday and upset No. 2 seed Long Beach State on Thursday to make its way to the final.

Season Recap

Ohio State (31-2) won its league best 26th MIVA regular season title and also grabbed its 16th MIVA Tournament title sweeping Grand Canyon in the tournament finale. In the 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 NCAA semifinals win over Hawaii, Nicolas Szerszen downed a team-best 10 kills, while hitting .409 and adding eight digs. At the net, Blake Leeson led the way with seven stuffs. As a team, OSU hit at a .358 clip and outblocked Hawaii 11-1. The Buckeyes, in their 50th season at OSU, are playing at home in St. John Arena, where they own a 542-104 all-time mark (.839 winning percentage).

BYU (26-4) was the No. 2 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament before falling to No. 3 seed Hawaii in the semifinals. The Cougars earned the No. 3 in the NCAA Tournament and swept Barton 25-19, 25-11, 25-15. Brenden Sander led the way with 11 kills, a .409 hitting effort and eight blocks. BYU then faced No. 2 seed Long Beach State in the semifinals, taking down the 49ers 25-20, 25-18, 25-23. Sander again was the top hitter with 15 kills, hitting .619 and adding a team-best four digs. Tim Dobbert also turned in a double-digit effort with 11 kills.

Statistically Speaking

OSU’s first team All-American outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen leads the nation with 0.63 aces per set, while also ranking among the national top 10 in points per set (4.54, 9th) and hitting percentage (9th, .385), and ranking 11th in kills per set (3.70). Senior opposite Miles Johnson, a first team All-America selection, is tops among the Buckeyes offensively, downing 3.88 kills per set, while hitting at a .338 clip and serving up 49 aces. At the net, redshirt sophomore middle Blake Leeson leads the way with 1.00 stuffs per set.

The Buckeyes lead the nation with 1.90 aces per set and rank second in hitting percentage (.365). OSU also ranks in the top 10 in opponent hitting percentage (4th, .190), kills per set (6th, 13.06), assists per set (6th, 12.18) and blocks per set (10th, 2.37).

For BYU, first team All-American outside hitter Jake Langlois leads the way with 3.83 kills per set, while hitting at a .357 clip and adding 0.65 blocks per set and a team-best 47 aces. Setter Leo Durkin, middle blocker Price Jarman and outside hitter Brenden Sander garnered honorable mention All-America honors. Jarman boasts a team-best 0.96 blocks per set, while Sander chips in 2.87 kills and .61 blocks per set to go with 28 aces.

Opposite Ben Patch has been in and out of the lineup for the Cougars, but has averaged 4.51 kills per set when available.

Familiar foes

While the Buckeyes and Cougars did not face one another during the 2017 season, they did take on nine familiar foes with similar results. Both teams took on USC, UCLA, Stanford, Barton College, Long Beach State, Lewis, Loyola, UC Irvine and Hawaii.

Ohio State Opponent BYU
W 3-1 (1/6) USC W 3-0 (2/10)
W 3-1 (1/7) UCLA W 3-2 (2/3); W 3-0 (2/4)
W 3-0 (1/13); W 3-0 (1/14) Stanford W 3-0 (2/23); W 3-1 (2/24)
W 3-0 (1/27) Barton W 3-0 (5/2)
W 3-1 (1/28) Long Beach State W 3-2 (3/24); L 3-0 (3/25);
W 3-0 (5/4)
W 3-1 (2/9); W 3-2 (3/18) Lewis W 3-0 (1/6)
W 3-0 (2/11); W 3-0 (3/16) Loyola L 3-1 (1/7)
L 3-0 (3/11) UC Irvine L 3-2 (1/27); W 3-0 (1/28)
W 3-0 (5/4) Hawaii W 3-0 (3/17); W 3-0 (3/18);
L 3-0 (4/20)

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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 after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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