Ohio State is projected by Off the Block to be No. 8 in the preseason national rankings.
Off the Block throughout December will reveal its projected men’s volleyball preseason top 10 national rankings and will profile a top-10 team each day. The Off the Block projected preseason rankings were created independently of the AVCA Coaches Poll and the Volleyball Magazine Top 10 Media Poll.
The college men’s volleyball season begins on Jan. 3 and concludes with the Final Four in May.
Check out what to know about Ohio State as it enters the 2012 season.
2012 SEASON PROSPECTUS
Ohio State will attempt to defend its national championship with three starters from last year returning for the upcoming season. Among the returning starters includes outside attacker Shawn Sangrey. Sangrey, an Off the Block Preseason All-American, ended last season in the nation’s top 15 for kills per game average despite missing about a month of the regular season with an injury. Ohio State will replace three all-conference players who graduated at the end of last season — Kevin Heine, John Klanac and two-time MIVA Player of the Year Steven Kehoe. If Ohio State can win the MIVA regular season title this upcoming season, it will become the first team in the MIVA 51-year history to win six consecutive conference championships.
2011 SEASON RECAP
Ohio State ended last season defeating UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA championship match and became the first Midwest team to legally win a NCAA title. The Buckeyes reached the Final Four after winning the MIVA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. In addition, Ohio State during the regular season had a nation-best 17-match winning streak that included victories against Penn State and UC Irvine. It also won the MIVA regular season title — becoming the first team since Ball State in the 1960s to win five consecutive conference regular season championships.
EARLY-SEASON MATCH TO WATCH
For the first time since 2009, the Buckeyes will play a home match against a West Coast team. Ohio State will play matches against Stanford and Pacific as part of its home non-conference tournament, the Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational, on Jan. 27-28. Stanford ended the 2011 regular season No. 3 in the national rankings but missed the Final Four, while Pacific was No. 15 in the final rankings. For more on the Buckeyes’ upcoming schedule, check out the team’s complete schedule breakdown.
5 QUESTIONS WITH COACH PETE HANSON
Off the Block: The last time we saw your team in May you were holding the NCAA championship trophy. What has the last eight months been like for your team as the NCAA champions?
Pete Hanson: It’s been really nice. We finished the season as champions and to get all the recognition and perks that comes with that, it is neat. At Ohio State it was nice for our guys that we were recognized at halftime of a football game and were introduced as the national champions. We’ve had everything from people coming up and saying, “great job” to “I didn’t even know that we had a men’s volleyball team.” … It’s at least nice that now they know that we have a program and we are making that step to where more people are aware of us.
OTB: Has there been a championship hangover with your team during the preseason and are you concerned that there might be a hangover with your team at the start of the 2012 season?
PH: I don’t know if there has been that hangover. We had so many guys graduate that I don’t think it’s been something we’ve had to deal with. We have set a standard the last five years. It was set in other gyms and now that standard is in our gym. And our players know that you have to work to be as good as a Kevin Heine or a Steven Kehoe.
OTB: You’ve lost a lot of starters from last year’s team. Have you settled on a new starting lineup or is it something that you will be figuring out throughout the season?
PH: I think we are going to be in that position all year long. We [have depth and] have some really good guys. … We got some freshman guys that could compete for a lot for time in the lineup. We’ll see who settles in and steps into the starting lineup. The big thing for us is getting ready for that stretch run in April. The best guys are going to be on the floor each weekend.
OTB: You’re opening the season at the UC Santa Barbara Invitation. It’s not often a Midwest team competes in this tournament. What are your thoughts on the tournament?
PH: We’re excited and have talked about the competitive teams that we know we are going to see out there. … I think it’s a great event and you are going to know where your team is at by the end of the tournament. I felt last year when we traveled out there to play Pepperdine [to open the season] it exposed us to some stuff that we needed to work on and we continued to work on it throughout the season. This [tournament] will be a test on the guys.
OTB: This season you have a chance to become the first MIVA team to win six consecutive championships in the conference’s history. What do you think about that milestone and what it means for your program?
PH: We take it year-by-year, and we don’t spend time looking back or forward or looking at the uniqueness of what we’ve accomplished. … I think our guys don’t spend too much time talking about if they are on the verge of doing something historic in the conference. It’s just kind of like what everyone always brings up when we play Ball State and the record winning streak we have against them. It really doesn’t matter for us. Whether it’s a record against Ball State, a record for the conference or a NCAA record, for us it’s all about who are the teams we have to beat Friday and Saturday. That is our sole focus. Right now we are just really focused on Jan. 6 at Santa Barbara and the biggest thing we are thinking about is UC Santa Barbara.