By Larry Hamel for VolleyballMag.com
Ninth-ranked Grand Canyon improved to 4-0 with a five-set triumph over No. 14 Ohio State (1-2) in an important intersectional match on a neutral court to highlight NCAA men’s Division I-II volleyball action on Saturday.
Saturday’s recaps follow. Sunday’s schedule includes just two matches, Ohio State vs. George Mason and D’Youville vs. Charleston. For links to all matches that are being shown, go to our VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming Listings.
Grand Canyon of the MPSF limited the Buckeyes of the MIVA to a minus .143 hitting percentage in the deciding set, and an early four-point run gave them the separation they needed to close out a 23-25. 25-18, 25-23, 18-25, 15-10 thriller at George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia. Colin Lovejoy and Jonah Gilbert, and Lovejoy and Nicholas Slight combined on two key blocks in the fifth set.
Redshirt-junior Jackson Hickman gave Grand Canyon 18 kills, five digs, a solo block and two block assists. Gilbert, a redshirt freshman, picked up 11 kills and an ace. Christian Janke added nine kills and two aces..
The stat sheet told a different tale than the scoreboard: The Lopes had 13 fewer kills, were outhit .380 to .326 and each team dug 24 balls. The telling difference in the match likely came from the service line, where the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot with 34 errors.
Junior outside hitter Jacob Pasteur, a two-time first-team All-MIVA selection, racked up 20 kills and eight digs for Ohio State, but those numbers were mitigated by seven hitting errors and six miscues on serves. Junior middle Justin Howard had eight kills on eight swings with no errors.
Host George Mason (0-1) will play the Buckeyes to wrap up its Patriot Invitational on Sunday afternoon in Fairfax.
Another non-conference showdown between nationally ranked foes went to five sets as No. 8 Stanford (4-0) of the MPSF rallied to top No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (1-4) of the Big West in Palo Alto. The Cardinal swept the hard-luck Gauchos the night before, but this time needed kills by Will Rotman and Kevin Lamp to punctuate an air-tight fourth set in a back-and-forth 20-25, 25-22, 24-26, 26-24,15-12 nail-biter. Rotman needed 60 swings to log 22 kills, Lamp chipped in with 10 kills and nine digs, and Theo Snoey posted 10 kills and 12 digs. Geste Bianchi had a huge match for USCB with 26 kills, six block assists and six digs.
No. 3 Long Beach (2-0) of the Big West used an 11-1 advantage in blocks to dispatch pesky Lindenwood (1-4) 25-17, 25-21, 25-17 in the second match of a twinbill at the Walter Pyramid. The Lions of the MIVA held the Beach to a .267 hitting percentage and kills leader Spencer Olivier, a 6-foot-8 senior, needed 21 swings to put down eight balls. Ian Schueller paced Lindenwood with 13 kills.
The opener in Long Beach saw No. 11 USC (4-1) of the MPSF handily bounce Conference Carolinas’ King (0-5) 25-16, 25-17, 25-16. The Trojans sided out at 86% and got 11 kills on .529 hitting, with five blocks (one solo) from Dillon Klein.
Penn State, ranked fourth in the AVCA poll, improved to 4-0 with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 destruction of outgunned NEC foe Merrimack (0-1) at Rec Hall. Slender 6-5 senior Jack Shampine hit a robust .846 with 11 kills while playing just two sets for the EIVA preseason favorites. In its first official match in program history, visiting Merrimack had 14 kills but committed 15 hitting errors.
Fifth-ranked Pepperdine (3-0) of the MPSF found easy pickings against Conference Carolinas’ Emmanuel (1-2), siding out at 90.2% in a 25-12, 25-12, 25-16 bludgeoning in Malibu. Fifteen players hit the court for the Waves, with Brendon Reed topping the kills list with eight and serving two aces in two sets.
No. 15 Lewis (3-2) of the MIVA closed out a competitive match in Romeoville, Illinois, against the Big West’s UC San Diego (1-4) with eight consecutive points in the fourth set, punctuated by Tyler Simpson’s solo block and an attack error by the Tritons’ Ryan Ka. Sophomore thumper Max Roquet logged 19 kills, two aces, 10 digs and five block assists during the Flyers’ 27-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23 triumph. Ka led UCSD with 15 kills but hit .156.
After losing on the road to nationally ranked Loyola and Lewis, IVA member Missouri S&T blasted Kentucky State 25-20, 25-15, 25-17 to notch a “W” in the new program’s first home match at Gibson Arena. The Miners (1-2) outdug the Thorobreds (0-2) from the SIAC 29-14 and had an 8-2 advantage in aces. Nate Meyer, a 6-3 freshman out of suburban Chicago, put on a show for the fans in Rolla, ringing up 11 kills, four aces, four digs, two solo blocks and a block assist.
NJIT (2-2) bounced back from two road defeats with a whitewash (26-24, 25-21, 25-12) of Sacred Heart (0-2) of the NEC in its home opener. Julian Meissner and Allessandro Negri each recorded nine kills for the EIVA’s Highlanders.
North Greenville’s new coach, Matthew McManaway, picked up a victory in his debut as the preseason favorites in Conference Carolinas rolled over visiting Queens (0-2) of the IVA 25-21, 25-19, 25-21. Michael de la Cruz (11 kills with .556 hitting) and Diego Rosich (eight kills, .615 hitting, two aces, seven digs, four blocks, two solo) paced the Crusaders.
In other matches, Lincoln Memorial of the IVA evened its record at 3-3 with an easy home-court score (25-13, 25-13, 25-10) against Conference Carolinas’ Barton (0-2), hitting .416, siding out at 80.4%, and getting 11 kills and six digs from Shay Spadaro; and the NEC’s D’Youville (1-1) took a road victory (25-22, 25-17, 25-20) over Belmont Abbey (1-5) of Conference Carolinas.