Saturday’s men’s college action was punctuated by a meeting between No. 4 Long Beach State and top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, plus Pepperdine was taken to the brink by USC in Malibu, Calif., and BYU returned the favor in Provo.

Let’s get started in Columbus where the defending national-champion Buckeyes are inching closer to history after a 3-1 victory over Long Beach State.

Ohio State ran its record to 9-0 and now has won 32 matches in a row dating back to last week. The 32 wins in a row ties a program record that stood since the 1969-1970 seasons. Ohio State went 24-0 in 1969 and then won its first eight matches in 1970. Current-day, Ohio State last lost a match on Feb. 6, 2016.

During this stretch, the Buckeyes have won 96 of 115 sets (83 percent) and hold wins over six Top-5 opponents. Nearly half the wins (15) have come against teams ranked in the Top 12 nationally.

The win moves the Buckeyes closer to Loyola-Chicago’s 40-match winning streak in 2014-2015 and UCLA’s 47 wins a row, which is believed to be the all-time record.

Individually, Ohio State’s Miles Johnson recorded his 124th career service ace to break the all-time school record that has stood since the 1990s. However, teammate Nicolas Szerszen tied him 37 minutes later with his 124th career ace.

Johnson and Szerszen combined for 38 kills and each hit mover .300. Johnson had 22 kills and hit .395, while Szerszen had 16 kills and hit .312. Maxime Hervoir had eight kills, while setter Christy Blough directed the team to a .342 hitting percentage. Gabriel Domecus had 14 digs and has 45 digs in the last 13 sets spanning four Ohio State victories.

TJ DeFalco’s 19 kills led Long Beach State (7-2). He also hit .382. Kyle Ensing had 13 kills. Josh Tuaniga had 38 assists and three aces. Ensing and Andrew Sato each had seven digs.

Fort Wayne's Alex Dickmann, Richie Diedrich, and Colton Stone challenge NJIT's Brad Thele/Fort Wayne Athletics
Fort Wayne’s Alex Dickmann, Richie Diedrich, and Colton Stone challenge NJIT’s Brad Thele/Fort Wayne Athletics

Staying in the MIVA, Fort Wayne pushed its winning streak to three in a row with a 3-0 sweep of New Jersey Institute of Technology at the Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne. Pelegrin Vargas had 13 kills, while Graydon Schroeder had nine. Schroeder hit .571. Scott McNerney added 11 digs after starting at libero for the third match in a row.

McKendree upped its winning streak to four after a 3-1 victory over Alderson Broaddus in Lebanon, Ill.

Jared Wilcox paced McKendree with 14 kills, three aces and five digs, while senior right side Andrew Schnittker had 13 kills and hit .423 to go with six digs and two blocks. Senior outside Dustin Borenstein had seven kills, while senior middle Michael Polizzi had six kills and a match-high five blocks. Setter Pasquale Fiduccia had 44 assists and 10 digs in notching a double-double.

And in a MIVA contest, Quincy opened up conference play with a 3-1 home victory against Lindenwood. Quincy has won three matches in a row.

Kolbie Knorr had 16 digs and helped the Hawks hit a season-high .300 in the match. David Siebum had 16 kills with only one error and hit .536. Jarrod Kelso and Shane McAdams each had eight kills. Kelso also had a season-high eight blocks.

Sam Schindler’s 17 kills (.367 hitting percentage) paced Lindenwood (0-7, 0-4 MIVA).

Pepperdine's Dave Wieczorek gets one of his 17 kills against USC/Martin Folb, Pepperdine
Pepperdine’s Dave Wieczorek gets one of his 17 kills against USC/Martin Folb, Pepperdine

Over in the MPSF, three other matches featuring league teams were on tap Saturday, including a thriller in Malibu, Calif., where No. 9 Pepperdine overcame a first- and third-set deficits to outlast USC in five 20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-16, 15-11.

Sophomore Michael Wexter led the Waves with 19 kills and hit a career-high .444 to go with nine digs and four blocks. David Wieczorek added 17 kills and hit .536 to go with a season-best four aces. Mitchell Penning had five blocks and seven kills, while hitting .357. Setter Joshua Stewart finished with 43 assists and added eight digs.

Gianluca Grasso paced USC with 18 kills on 42 swings. Andy Benesh had 12 kills, while Woody Cook had 11 kills. Aaron Strange and Connor Inlow each had nine kills. Gert Lisha dished out 53 assists, while Cook had 11 digs.

BYU's Ben Patch takes on the UC Irvine triple block/BYU photo
BYU’s Ben Patch takes on the UC Irvine triple block/BYU photo

In Provo, Utah, one night after being upset by No. 7 UC Irvine, No. 3 BYU returned the favor with a 3-0 sweep in what counts as a non-conference contest due to new MPSF scheduling rules.

“We were a lot more confident and assertive from the service line, so I was really proud of the guys for doing that,” said BYU coach Shawn Olmstead. “There was good energy as well. We stayed a lot more composed than we did last night. The guys wanted a redo. They felt like they let a few things slip through their fingers last night and they wanted this shot. I was excited for them.”

Jake Langlois led BYU with 12 kills and hit .500. Ben Patch had 12 kills and four digs, while Leo Durkin had 32 assists and five digs. BYU moved to 7-2, while Irvine fell to 7-3.

Thomas Hodges led Irvine with eight kills. Tamir Hershko had seven kills. Michael Saeta had 26 assists and Dillon Hoffman had nine digs. Irvine hit .189 in the match.

UC San Diego was a 3-2 winner (23-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-22, 16-14) over Hope International.

EIVA action Saturday saw Penn State cap off a 2-0 weekend with a 3-1 win over Coker. Lee Smith led the Nittany Lions (5-4) with 16 kills, while hitting .407. Chris Nugent added 12 kills and hit .400. Kevin Gear had seven kills with no errors in eight swings to hit .875. Calvin Mende finished with 12 kills and hit .476.

Penn State hit .479 as a team. Luke Braswell had 49 assists and the Nittany Lions had 58 kills as a team with only 13 errors.  Bobby Wilden had three aces. Mende had nine digs, while Smith had eight. Penn State also had 19 block assists and three solos.

Joao Victor Santos had 19 kills to pace Coker (3-5). Luca Berger added nine kills and hit .467.

The other match at Ohio State was Saint Francis dispatch Barton in three sets. Saint Francis moved to 4-5 with the win. Barton dropped to 3-3.

Michael Fisher’s 12 kills paced Saint Francis, while Jeff Hogan added eight kills and hit .312. Daniel Ford had 34 assists and Gabe Woffindin had 10 digs.

Vasilis Mandilaris had 12 kills and hit .360 for Coker.

Over in the Conference Carolinas, Limestone ran its mark to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in CC play with a 3-0 win over Erskine (0-4, 0-2).

Kevin Rocklein led Limestone with eight kills. Drew Davis added six kills and Logan Riley had 22 assists. Joel Muhlbach had four block assists.

Isaac Lanier had nearly half of Erskine’s kills. He finished with 13. Daniel Fralix had six. Bryan Cardozo had 10 digs. The match took 79 minutes to complete.

Finally, North Greenville outlasted host Emmanuel (Ga.) 3-2. North Greenville moved to 2-6, 2-1, while Emmanuel fell to 1-5, 0-2.

Aaron Campbell’s 16 kills led North Greenville, while Matthew McManaway added 10 kills. Alexander Schinzing had 41 assists. Dustin King had 20 digs, while Campbell added 10 digs. North Greenville won the match despite hitting .089.

Ackeem West led Emmanuel with 16 kills. Gilberto Cervantes had 12 kills. Caleb Bonaventure had 48 assists, while Manuel Melenciano had 15 digs—one of four Emmanuel players to hit double figures in that category. The match took two hours and 15 minutes to complete and featured a combined 289 swings.


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