NCAA men: GCU nearly ends Ohio State streak, Hawai’i wins

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Grand Canyon's Shalev Saada attacks against the Ohio State triple block/GCU photo

There were only three matches on the NCAA Division I-II men’s schedule on Sunday, but one of them almost became historical.

That’s because Grand Canyon nearly ended top-ranked Ohio State’s unbeaten streak, which is now at 40.

Also, No. 4 Hawai’i swept visiting No. 10 Pepperdine and Mount Olive of Conference Carolinas won a non-league match at Lincoln Memorial.

Buckeyes survive: At Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Ohio State went to five for the first time this season before winning 25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 27-25, 15-11.

It left the Buckeyes 17-0 overall and 8-0 in the MIVA, while unranked Grand Canyon (9-7, 5-3) fell a game behind in the loss column behind No. 5 Lewis (13-3, 7-2) and No. 9 Loyola (9-5, 5-2) and is tied with No. 12 Ball State (13-4, 5-3).

The 40th consecutive victory ties the MIVA record streak set by Loyola in 2014-15. It also marks just the sixth 40-match stretch in NCAA D I-II men’s volleyball history (UCLA owns the record of 47 straight in both 1979-80 and 1983-85.

Nicolas Szerszen led Ohio State with 22 kills and hit .289. He had one of his team’s six aces and four of its 24 service errors, seven digs and two blocks, one solo.

Teammates Miles Johnson and Maxime Hervoir had 12 kills each. Johnson had three aces and five blocks. Blake Leeson had five kills and eight blocks, one solo, and four service errors. And Driss Guessous had eight kills and six blocks, two solo.

Ohio State trailed in the fifth set 10-8 but rallied after a time out, ending it on a Szerszen ace.

Matthew Kinnebrew led the Lopes with 18 kills. He also had seven of his team’s 12 service errors against two aces. Saada Shalev had 15 kills and hit .310 and had two blocks. Michael Milstein didn’t have a kill but had one of those aces, three digs and six blocks. Ashton King, who had five kills, got the other ace and had six blocks.

“We made another step forward today,” GCU coach Matt Werle said. “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.”

Rainbow Warriors rolling: Hawai’i improved to 16-2, 7-2 MPSF, as it won for the 11th time in a row with its 25-22, 25-18, 28-26 victory over Pepperdine.

Pepperdine, which lost at Hawa’i for the second time in three days, fell to 6-7, 4-6.

Hawai’i sophomore opposite Stijn van Tilburg led with 17 kills and senior outside hitter Kupono Fey had 15. Van Tilburg hit .483 and had three digs and three blocks while Fey added four digs and hit .364.

UH hit .330 and held the Waves to .167 hitting. The Warriors also out-blocked Pepperdine 11-to-4 in a battle of the league’s top two blocking teams. Libero Larry Tuileta had 12 digs.

Michael Wexter had 10 kills to lead Pepperdine. He added two aces, a block and three digs. Alex Harthaller had eight kills but hit .077.

Mount Olive rallies: Mount Olive won 25-22, 24-26, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11 at independent Lincoln Memorial to improve to 10-6, while the home team dropped to 6-10. Bret Rutledge had 17 kills for Mount Olive.

What’s ahead: Conference Carolinas has a match on Tuesday when Limestone goes to Emmanuel.

The MPSF and MIVA are off until Wednesday and the  EIVA is off until next Friday.

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