Men’s Volleyball: Cardinals snap Buckeyes three-game winning streak

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The Ohio State Men’s Volleyball team huddles up after earning a point during the Ohio State-Loyola game on Feb. 20. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Christian Harsa | Asst. Photo Editor

In the face of a dominating defense, the Buckeyes’ three-game winning streak could not survive a bout with the Cardinals.

Ohio State (5-7) started the match strong, but Ball State (8-4) made the adjustments necessary to shut down the Buckeyes offense and secure the 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13) win. Ohio State split the series with Ball State, as each team found a way to win one match on the road in the home-and-home series.  

The Buckeyes came into Thursday’s match averaging 5.4 attack errors and 5.8 service errors per set. Despite this, Ohio State opened the evening by playing one of their cleanest sets of the season, only committing three attack errors and two service errors. 

Although these numbers looked good on paper, Ohio State head coach Kevin Burch said that the lack of errors came from playing tentatively.

“We went to the other end of the spectrum in terms of serving to keep the ball in instead of serving competitively,” Burch said. “It’s just tough to find that balance because you have to serve it tough, but you can’t miss.”

The Buckeyes found ways around the Cardinals’ dominant front line by frequently changing the direction of their attack to create confusion for their opponents. These redirections by the Buckeyes forced Ball State’s blockers to make last-second adjustments that resulted in missed opportunities for the Cardinals defense.

Despite Ohio State’s offensive success, its defense struggled throughout the first few sets. The Cardinals offense overpowered the Buckeyes’ front line, leading to momentous scoring runs for Ball State. 

Once they took the lead, the Cardinals went on a 6-1 scoring run that crushed the Buckeyes’ energy. Burch said his team didn’t show up on defense until the fourth set which allowed Ball State to make these runs.

The Cardinals continued their strong defense in the third set by meeting the Buckeyes at the net. Junior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness stood up several of Ohio State’s attacks, redirecting the ball back at the Buckeyes.

Jenness finished the night with 21 kills and three blocks, leading the Cardinals in both categories.   

Ohio State’s leading scorer this season, freshman outside hitter Jacob Pasteur, left the match midway through the fourth set with an ankle injury. The Westminster, Maryland, native finished with 14 kills and a hitting percentage of .346 through three and a half sets. 

Sophomore setter Michael Wright came in for Pasteur and played the remainder of the match for the Buckeyes. Wright finished with a career-high five kills. 

“For me and all the guys who are coming off the bench, we all have the same goal: to make everyone around us better and just play fearlessly,” Wright said. “I just had that mentality to be the best person I could and be super aggressive.”

Burch said that he had worked with Wright to play on the right side if needed. He said that Wright’s presence helped fuel the spark that the Buckeyes had late in the match.

“Michael did a great job stepping in and filling a couple different roles in terms of setting and attacking,” Burch said. “He was thrown into a tough spot but handled it really well.”

Despite Pasteur’s absence, the Buckeyes found a way to rally back and win the fourth set thanks to freshman outside hitter Sotiris Siapanis’ energy-sparking plays. Siapanis had 16 kills and five spikes, becoming the leader offensively for Ohio State following Pasteur’s injury. 

Following their late game success, the Buckeyes couldn’t continue their momentum into the final set, allowing Ball State to get out to a 4-0 lead. The Cardinals went on to win the fifth set 15-13.

“We just went to Muncie and did the same thing to them,” Wright said. “We just need to learn how to fight and be the last guy in the ring standing.”

Burch said that he was frustrated with his team’s defense throughout the match, particularly in the first few sets.

“Moving into next week, we’re really going to need to be dialed in defensively because I think this match showed how important it is to our success,” Burch said. “Especially in a match where we had good offensive numbers for the most part, we really allowed a team to do whatever they wanted to us offensively.” 

The Buckeyes look to get back on track as they start their two-game series against Purdue Fort Wayne March 19 at 6 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Source: thelantern.com

Men’s Volleyball: Cardinals snap Buckeyes three-game winning streak