The defending NCAA champions used its conference tournament finals to deliver a resounding statement to rest of the nation.
No. 2/2 Ohio State days after surviving a five-game upset scare in the semifinals rebounded to sweep Grand Canyon 25-16, 25-22, 25-11 on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio and clinch a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The Antelopes with 16 errors had double the amount of attack errors than the Buckeyes and were held to a negative-.050 attack percentage in the final game. The 14-point win in the third game also was the Buckeyes largest margin of victory in a MIVA Tournament finals during the rally scoring era.
“The best thing for me was winning in three against that specific team. That was maybe the highlight of the year so far,” opposite Miles Johnson said in a postmatch interview with Ohio State athletics.
Johnson, the MIVA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, finished with a match-high 11 kills on a .348 attack percentage. The finalist for the Bryan Ivie Award also led all players with three ace and was at the service line during a 9-0 Ohio State run in the third game.
“I definitely set into a rhythm, and it helped that a bunch of Grand Canyon fans behind me were trying to heckle.” Johnson said. “I just fed off that energy.”
Ohio State out-hit Grand Canyon .464 to .118 and had three players with more than five kills and a .400 attack percentage.
Middle attacker Driss Guessous was a perfect seven kills on seven attempts and outside attacker Maxime Hervoir added nine kills while hitting .538. In addition, outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen, the 2017 MIVA Player of the Year, had nine kills on a .471 attack percentage.
“It’s a pretty good statement for our kids gaining confidence going into the next match,” coach Pete Hanson said in a postmatch interview with Ohio State athletics.
All-MIVA middle attacker Drake Silbernagel in the loss had six kills and was one of three Antelopes to have more than five kills.
Grand Canyon was making its first MIVA Tournament finals appearance. This also was the Antelopes final MIVA match before the team joins the MPSF next season.
Ohio State having earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will find out its tournament seed on Sunday. The Buckeyes are projected to be a top-two seed and earn a bye to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, according to the latest Off the Block bracketology.