The defending NCAA champion gets its challenger in a rematch.
Saturday’s National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship title match will feature 2016 kingpin Ohio State defending its crown on its home court against 2016 runner-up BYU after both schools swept their opponents Thursday in the semifinals at St. John Arena.
Saturday’s showdown starts at 7 p.m. Eastern and will be shown live on ESPN2. We’ll have a preview of the 2017 season finale Saturday morning.
Ohio State (31-2) defeated BYU (26-4) for the 2016 title in University Park, Pa. In that contest, Ohio State won as the No. 3 seed, while BYU was the top seed. This year, the NCAA seeds are reversed.
Thursday’s second semifinal saw Ohio State take down Hawaii in less than 90 minutes 25-23, 25-18 and 25-19 in front of 4,834 fans.
Top-seed Ohio State led nearly from bell to bell sans three instances early in the second set.
Buckeyes setter Christy Blough had 31 assists and set the Buckeyes to a .358 hitting percentage. AVCA national player of the year Nicolas Szersen had a team-high 10 digs, while putting down 10 kills and hitting .419. He had just one error in 22 swings.
Maxime Hervoir had seven kills and hit above .400. Driss Guessous had eight kills and hit .600 (8-2-10). Szerszen had five aces as well and a block assist to pace all players with 15.5 points.
Ohio State also enjoyed an 11-1 blocking edge with Blake Leeson in on four of those blocks in the first set. He ended up with seven total blocks.
Hawai’i, the No. 4 seed, finished the year 27-6. Stijn van Tilburg led the Warriors with 13 kills. Kupono Fey added nine kills and hit .333, while Hendrik Mol added five kills and hit .300. Jennings Franciskovic had four kills, hit .667, and had 32 assists. Hawai’i hit .256 in the match and had 14 service errors against one ace.
Ohio State held a .270-.257 hitting edge in the close first set, but then went up .296-.226 in the second set and .647 (13-2-17)-.300 in the finale.
Click here for the Ohio State postmatch news conference.
Click here for the Hawai’i news conference.
BYU sweeps Long Beach State
No. 3 seed BYU kept the MPSF’s game of postseason musical chairs in full force with a 3-0 sweep of conference regular-season and tournament champion Long Beach State 25-20, 25-18, 25-23.
BYU lost to Hawaii in the MPSF semifinals at Long Beach State, while Long Beach State downed Hawaii in the tournament final. BYU and Long Beach State split the regular-season series in Provo, Utah.
“First of all, congratulations to Long Beach on their spectacular season,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I’m pretty speechless with this group of guys. Sometimes in coaching I get caught up in watching these guys compete. Just the performance that these guys put in tonight was incredible.”
Brenden Sander led BYU with a season-high-tying 15 kills while hitting .619. Leo Durkin had 34 assists and Erik Sikes had eight digs. Jake Langlois added four aces, while Tim Dobbert had 11 kills.
BYU hit .426 in the match, making only nine errors on 68 swings. Long Beach State hit .215, plagued by an .083 outing in the first set.
Kyle Ensing led the 49ers with 12 kills to go with a .385 hitting percentage (2 errors on 26 swings). TJ DeFalco, who was named the AVCA men’s player of the year earlier in the week, added 12 kills as well. Those two combined to hit .308. The rest of the Long Beach State team had eight kills and hit .037.
Josh Tuaniga had 26 assists, while Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and DeFalco each had three aces. Andrew Sato had six digs.
No. 2 seed Long Beach State finished the season 27-4. The 49ers set a program record this season with 20 three-set wins.
Click here for the BYU post-match news conference.
Click here for the Long Beach news conference.