PHOENIX, Ariz. -- For the first time this season Ohio State ventured into a fifth set, emerging victorious 15-11 to hand Grand Canyon (9-7, 5-3 MIVA) its second 'L' of the weekend. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, extended their current winning streak to 40 matches in a row -- pulling even with the 2014-15 Loyola Ramblers for the longest in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. It also marks just the sixth 40-match triumphant stretch in NCAA D I-II men's volleyball history (UCLA owns the record of 47 straight in both 1979-80 and 1983-85.
• Ohio State is riding a 40-match winning streak
• Marks the longest winning streak in OSU Athletics history for teams competing in head-to-head competition
• The Buckeyes last suffered an NCAA loss on February 6, 2016 (386 days)
• Ohio State has won 120 of 145 sets (83%) during the victorious stretch
• The streak includes six wins over Top-5 opponents and nearly half (18) against teams ranked inside the Top-12
• Also included in the streak are 18 straight wins in true road matches
• Loyola also strung together a 40-match run (2014-15), now tied for the longest in MIVA history
• UCLA set the all-time record of 47 straight in both 1979-80 and 1983-85
Ohio State took sets one, three and five to depart from the desert with two wins in hand (25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-27, 15-11). The heated contest saw a total of 35 tied scores and 17 lead changes.
Under a constant barrage of "oh-ver-rated" chants from the home crowd, Nicolas Szerszen delivered a match-high 22 kills and seven digs. The 2016 National Player of the Week served the final four rallies of the match, including a blistering ace to push Ohio State ahead 14-11. He followed by dropping in a float serve to set up a match-clinching triple block to close things out.
The Buckeyes accumulated 15 blocks, paced by Blake Leeson's eight stuffs. Driss Guessous and Miles Johnson helped host the block party as well, getting in on six (two solo) and five rejections, respectively.
Set 1: Szerszen proclaimed his spot as the afternoon's top point-producer right off the bat, blasting eight kills and roofing an Antelope attack attempt. While Szerszen was responsible for nine points sole-handedly, the entire GCU squad managed only 10 points as the recipients of eight OSU unforced errors. His Buckeye brethren added in four more blocks to hold the Antelopes at a .000 team attacking efficiency. Ohio State corralled 14 of the last 21 points to break up an 11-11 tie, arising victorious 25-18.
Set 2: A 10-3 run by Grand Canyon flipped the table in set number two, transforming a 14-10 deficit into a 20-17 advantage. That three-point margin would remain at set's end, a 25-22 equalizer for the Antelopes.
Set 3: The Buckeyes built an early 8-3 lead only to see Grand Canyon storm back and even the score at 13-all. The ledger remained all-square at 22-22 before a three-point spurt for Ohio State sealed the deal. Hervoir ignited the quick OSU spark with a kill, accompanied by a 'no-doubt' block from Blough and Leeson, and an Antelope attacking blunder.
Set 4: Gabriel Domecus record the 735th dig of his career in the fourth frame, moving up into third place all-time in Ohio State history. He surpassed Craig Geibel (734 digs; 1990-931) and Jose' Bengoa (733 digs' 1994-97) to reach his new position in the school standings. Despite the statistical ascension of Domecus, the Buckeyes were unable to close out the match in Set 4. Ohio State fended off the first two GCU set-point opportunities before finally giving way at 27-25.
Set 5: The truncated fifth set did not get off on the right foot for the Scarlet & Gray, dropping back 2-0 and 10-8 before calling a timeout. Ohio State emerged from the break in action on a mission, reeling in seven of the next eight points to come away as 15-11 victors. Szerszen served out the final four rallies, victimizing GCU's Shalev Saada on a monstrous ace to present Ohio State with match-point.
St. John Arena is the place to be next Friday (March 3) when the Buckeyes play host to Saint Francis at 7 p.m. Free admission. Free parking. Free fun.