- #1 Ohio State def. Grand Canyon 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-27, 15-11)
- Ohio State moves to 17-0, GCU falls to 9-7
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Attendance: 1,249
- Match Stats
For the first time this season, the defending NCAA Champions from Ohio State were pushed to a 5th set…but that was the only spot where the story line changed as the Buckeyes won their 40th-straight game, tying the MIVA Conference record, and the third-longest streak in history.
The team’s last loss came on February 6th, 2017, against Ball State, and more than a calendar-year later, they match the 40-game NCAA winning streak set by Loyola University from 2014 through 2015.
The longest streak in history is a tie between two UCLA teams, who each won 47 straight games.
The latest game saw the Buckeyes trade sets with Grand Canyon. Even the 5th set was tied at 11 before the Buckeyes went on a 5-point streak to finish the game and mark another tick in the history books.
While the Buckeyes’ two stars, Nicolas Szerszen and Miles Johnson, didn’t have their most efficient guys, they ultimately put up decent numbers. Szersezen had 22 kills and 11 errors for a .289 percentage with 1 ace and 2 blocks. Johnson had 12 kills and 8 errors, hitting just .133, but also had 3 aces and 5 block assists.
Maxime Hervoir had the highest output of his young career with 12 kills. 6’8″ middle blocker Driss Guessous had 8 kills, hitting .667, plus 6 blocks (2 solo, 4 assists). He’s been very efficient all season long, hitting .448 – slightly above his career average of .441.
Szerszen was especially hot in the game’s first two sets, which included 8 kills in the 1st and 5 in the second. He cooled off thereafter, but so too eventually did GCU – who hit -.125 in the final set to seal their fate.
Both teams had big days on the defensive side of the net. Ohio State had 15.5 blocks, while GCU had 16. The Lopes were led in that category by a trio of players, Ashton King, Drake Silbernagel, and Michael Milstein, with 6 assists each, with Silbernagel chipping in a solo block as well.
Ohio State will go for #41 against St. Francis next Friday back home in Columbus, their only game of the week.
Full Game Replay
Courtesy Ohio State Athletics:
Not available as of posting.
Courtesy Grand Canyon Athletics:
PHOENIX – Until Sunday afternoon, Ohio State had not played more than four sets all season long. GCU pushed the Buckeyes to five sets and fell just short of upsetting the No. 1 team in the country. The Lopes lost by scores of 25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-27, and 15-11 to the defending national champions. Ohio State remains perfect on the season, improving to 17-0, while Grand Canyon falls to 9-7 overall.
“We made another step forward today,” head coach Matt Werle stated. “Ohio State came out in the first set and played extremely well. In the past, we would have pulled back. The Lopes are getting stronger mentally, buying into the ‘team’ and we are understanding the process to become great.”
In the first set, GCU matched Ohio State’s intensity and proved that they could hang with the nation’s No. 1. The Lopes ultimately dropped the set by a score of 25-18 but rallied back in Set 2.
After starting the set down 10-6, GCU showed resiliency and battled back to lock the game at 15 all thanks to two kills from Shalev Saada. The Lopes then went on a 5-2 run to gain the lead at 20-17 and force OSU to take their second timeout. After back-and-forth play, Saada’s sixth kill of the set sealed the 25-22 victory.
Ohio State jumped out to an 8-3 lead in Set 3 and never looked back despite a few GCU rallies. The Lopes briefly took the lead on a kill from Drake Silbernagel, up 22-21, but OSU scored four straight points to put the set out of reach and win 25-22.
Again, GCU refused to back down after a close set loss. The Lopes and the Buckeyes battled throughout all of Set 4, with Grand Canyon hitting an outstanding .650 for the set. Cullen Mosher’s ace earned the 27-25 set win for GCU.
The positive momentum carried into Set 5 for GCU and the Lopes led 10-8, forcing an Ohio State timeout. After the break, the Buckeyes went on a 7-1 run to close the match and keep their perfect season alive.
“I am pleased with the first four and half sets but from up 10-8 in the fifth set, we did not execute,” Werle explained. “I have asked the team to reflect on this weekend until 8 o’clock tonight, but at 8 p.m. they must move on and switch gears for our midweek match up with Ball State. Again, the home crowd was phenomenal and we are extremely appreciative.”
Matthew Kinnebrew led GCU during the contest with 18 kills. Saada followed closely behind with 15 kills. Setter Michael Milstein tallied 39 assists for the match and Mosher led the defense with six digs.
GCU will continue MIVA play this week against Ball State. The Lopes travel to Muncie, Indiana for two mid-week matchups with the Cardinals. The first contest will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1 and the second will be played at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 2.