Five times, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team faced match point in the fourth set of its NCAA semifinal Thursday night against top-seed Long Beach State.
Five times, the Buckeyes staved off elimination. But after Ohio State failed to convert on its only chance to extend the match to five sets, Long Beach finally put the Buckeyes away.
Ohio State’s Jake Hanes was just a tad late diving to save a soft kill shot by national player of the year Josh Tuaniga and the Buckeyes fell to the 49ers 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 32-30 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The loss ends the Buckeyes’ hopes of winning a third straight national title.
“I’m so proud of them,” Ohio State coach Pete Hanson said. “Those (match points) are all great learning moments for those young guys. That’s going to make us better in the long run. But it’s tough to accept it right now because they didn’t want it to go down that way.”
The 49ers (27-1) will play UCLA or Brigham Young in the finals Saturday.
Hanes, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman, had 21 kills and four aces for Ohio State (25-6). Nicolas Szerszen ended his brilliant career with 16 kills — and only two attacking errors — along with 12 digs. Fellow senior Maxime Hervoir had 17 kills.
Hanson said the Buckeyes played nervously at the start of the match. The Buckeyes trailed for almost the entire first set before closing within 23-22. But Long Beach won the next two points.
The Buckeyes led by four points three times in the second set. They led 21-19 on a kill by Hervoir, but Long Beach won the next three points. A kill by Bjarne Huus at 24-23 closed out the set.
In the third set, Ohio State won seven straight points on Blake Leeson’s serve to lead 18-12. But Long Beach tied it at 20 and staved off three set points before Hanes got a kill to give the Buckeyes the set.
That was just a prelude to the fourth set. Long Beach led most of the way before OSU took a brief 22-21 lead on a kill by Szerszen. Szerszen had a kill on the first and third match points. Hervoir had a kill to give Ohio State set point at 29-28, but a service error by Hanes followed.
Four points later, Long Beach finally ended the Buckeyes’ season.
“It’s very gratifying and comforting to know that our guys have the wherewithal to fight back in dire circumstance, to not quit and give in, and keep competing,” Hanson said. “I think they took a big step. It’s not a win where you can say, OK, that validates it, but on this stage and this environment, there are a lot of positives to come out of it.”
Alex Concannon scored with 11 seconds remaining as Johns Hopkins rallied to defeat Ohio State 6-5 in a Big Ten tournament semifinal in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Concannon's goal capped a second-half comeback after the Blue Jays (10-4), who face Maryland in Saturday's final, trailed 4-2 late in the second quarter.
Tre LeClaire, Jack Jasinski, Jackson Reid and Jeff Henrick helped give Ohio State (8-7) a two-goal advantage before Joel Tinney scored one of his two goals with 21 seconds left in the half to cut the Buckeyes' lead to 4-3.
Reid scored his second goal to give the Buckeyes a 5-4 lead early in the fourth, but Kyle Marr, who had a hat trick, scored a man-up goal with 7:52 remaining.
Blue Jays goalie Brock Turnbaugh made 16 saves, including seven in the fourth quarter.