UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Five years to the day, with their 23rd victory in a row, the Ohio State Buckeyes crushed BYU in a three-set sweep (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) at Penn State’s Rec Hall to win the NCAA title.
The Buckeyes (31-3) certainly had to grind through the first set, but then overpowered the top-ranked Cougars (27-4), giving the MIVA its third consecutive National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship. The last two were won by Loyola, but the Ramblers were never this dominate.
“Our kids executed our game plan to perfection, played with confidence, played with poise, played with passion and that’s what we talked about beforehand in the locker room,” 32nd-year Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said. “When you can have those things come together. The support we had from Buckeye Nation was unbelievable, I felt like it was a home match and that was a great thing for us. The kids just played flawlessly and I’m so proud of them. They earned every point and they earned a national championship tonight.”
Miles Johnson, who had 15 kills and two aces, was named the tournament’s most valuable player. His team opened play Tuesday by beating EIVA-champion George Mason in a play-in match and then second-seeded UCLA in the semifinals. Any time you can go back-to-back over the MPSF’s top teams you’ve earned it.
BYU certainly had chances, especially with seven opportunities to close out the first set.
“it’s definitely stressful anytime you have to fight off game point seven times, it was a bit much to
handle,” Johnson said. “Everyone just played really well together and we just focused in on the game plan and executed pretty well. I think just staying calm and not getting too freaked out if they bounce a ball, just staying calm and focusing.
First-year BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said his team has bounced back from first-set losses before, but obviously not this one.
“There were a few plays here or there, but we still had a pretty good turnaround in the second set and we were in a good spot where we needed to be at the end of the set and from there we just couldn’t make a few plays,” Olmstead said. “Right now I can’t recall exactly what happened so I won’t attempt to but I just know that I felt like we were in a pretty good spot in the second set.”
Ohio State’s most effective damage came from the middle, as Driss Guessous and Blake Leeson combined for 21 kills on 27 attacks. Christy Blough averaged nearly 15 assists per set, steering the OSU offense to a .374 team attacking efficiency on 44 assists.
Brenden Sander led the Cougars with 14 kills and three blocks. Jake Langlois and Price Jarman each contributed five blocks and Ben Patch added seven digs and 10 kills. Leo Durkin had 32 assists and four blocks.
Both teams should be in the hunt next year. Ohio State loses just one senior who played, senior outside Christian Franceschi, while BYU loses only senior middle Michael Hatch among its starters.
To view the boxscore, click here.