Ohio State All-American outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen made one last case for why he should be the National Player of the Year.
Szerszen finished with a both match-high 20 kills and 16 digs as the No. 3 seed Ohio State rallied from a one-game deficit to beat the No. 6 seed George Mason 22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 in the NCAA Tournament play-in match on Tuesday at Penn State.
Szerszen, the 2016 Karch Kiraly Award winner as the nation’s top outside attacker, also added a match-high four aces was one of two Buckeyes with double-digit kills. All-American opposite Miles Johnson had 17 kills for the MIVA champions.
Johnson and Szerszen each finished with at least 40 attack attempts. Only one other Buckeye had double-digit attack attempts against the Patriots.
Freshman middle attacker Blake Lesson led the Buckeyes defensively with seven blocks, while all-conference setter Christy Blough added 12 digs.
George Mason outside attacker Jack Wilson in the loss finished with a team-high 18 kills.
Ohio State out-hit George Mason .263 to .110, including hitting a match-best .424 in the fourth game to secure the victory.
Ohio State in the third game held George Mason to a match-worst negative-.031 attack percentage. In addition, Szerszen led all players with eight kills in the third game.
Johnson led the Buckeyes in the second game with six kills to help Ohio State even the match. The Patriots in that game-two loss also hit less than .050.
George Mason to start the match rallied from an early 6-0 deficit and four Ohio State aces to win the opening game. Wilson finished with a game-high six kills and had all but one of the Patriots kills in that first game.
The Buckeyes with this victory extend the nation’s longest active winning streak to 22 matches. In addition, Ohio State has now won its three NCAA Tournament matches.
This was the first NCAA Tournament match for Ohio State since winning the national championship in 2011, which was also the last time Penn State played host to the event.
Ohio State will advance to play the No. 2 seed UCLA in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday. The Bruins defeated the Buckeyes at Penn State in January during the opening week of the college men’s volleyball season.
George Mason was playing in its first NCAA Tournament since 1988 after it won the EIVA Tournament championship.