As the Ohio State men’s volleyball team got ready for this weekend’s NCAA championships, the Buckeyes got a visit from someone who knows about competing for national titles.

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer gave the team a pep talk on Tuesday.

“It was an experience for the guys to have someone who’s done some of those elite things like coach Meyer has to come in and want to talk to our guys and say we support you as well as us supporting them,” Buckeyes coach Pete Hanson said. “I thought it was a really neat moment.”

Meyer told the team that as this weekend got closer, it would become even more important for the team to close ranks and become selfless for each other.

Meyer has won three national titles, but the volleyball Buckeyes are trying to do something Meyer hasn’t achieved – win back-to-back championships. Ohio State plays Brigham Young in the championship match Saturday night at St. John Arena. It’s a rematch of last year’s finals, which the Buckeyes won in three sets.

“One thing he said that was very relevant was that winning one championship is crazy, (but) winning two championships is ridiculous,” junior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir said. “I think we just have to be ridiculous right now.”


Calm on the outside

While the St. John crowd was in a frenzy and the players on Ohio State’s bench were all standing and reacting after each point during Thursday’s semifinal victory over Hawaii, Hanson was the picture of calm.

Often sitting cross-legged holding his clipboard, the Buckeyes’ coach looked as impassive as someone filling out routine paperwork at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

It is by design, even if looks can be deceiving. He likened himself to a duck on water – seemingly calm on the surface, but paddling furiously underneath.

Hanson believes that in a sport like volleyball, with its quick ebbs and flows, it’s helpful to convey a sense of equilibrium to his players.

“This is a hard game to coach, and it’s a hard game for these kids to play,” Hanson said. “You’re asking them to play at their peak physically and try to be perfect and take chances, and if they miss, there’s an immediate point on the board (for the opponent).

“You want to get frustrated and let your emotions out. Then you have to tell yourself that they’re trying as hard as they can and doing the best they can. It’s hard, but as a staff you have to show the kids it’s OK to make an error.

“If you get on them about every error, they’re never going to try to take their game to the next level and play the way you can win and what you need to do to win.”

Hanson said he wasn’t always this way, and even now, he occasionally slips. He got ejected this year at Grand Canyon objecting to an official’s call.

But for the most part, he stays in the background. That’s often the case even in timeouts when he lets his assistants handle adjustments.

“As I’ve gotten older and less mobile,” said Hanson, who’s in his 33rd year, “it’s easier to just sit there and try to be a spectator and try to offer your insights when you can. I’ve got a great staff. I want those guys to be a part of it, and I’m just going to drive the bus and let those guys do their thing.”


BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said that he and Hanson agreed on Friday to have their teams play non-conference matches in the future. He said that the Cougars will play the Buckeyes in Columbus next season, with Ohio State making the trip to Provo, Utah, the following season.