Szerszen clutch serving leads Ohio State past Hawai’i in NCAA semifinals

COLUMBUS, Ohio — All-American outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen showed exactly why he was named the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year.

Szerszen tied a NCAA Tournament record during the 25-point rally scoring era with five aces as the No. 1 seed Ohio State swept the No. 4 seed Hawai’i 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 in the semifinals on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

The 2017 International Player of the Year and MIVA Player of the Year also had both a team-high 10 kills on a .409 attack percentage and eight digs against the Rainbow Warriors.

Szerszen was one of four Buckeyes with more than five kills and a .400 attack percentage to help the defending NCAA champions return to the NCAA Tournament finals. Middle attacker Driss Guessous had eight kills while hitting .800, while outside attacker Maxime Hervoir added seven kills with a .429 attack percentage.

All-American setter Christy Blough guided the Buckeyes offense to out-hit the Rainbow Warriors .358 to .256.

Opposite Stijn van Tilburg in the loss finished with a match-high 13 kills.

Along with the Ohio State offense, the Buckeyes out-blocked the Rainbow Warriors 11 to 1. Middle attacker Blake Leeson led all players with seven blocks.

Ohio State midway through third game had zero attack errors and was hitting as high as .900. It also finished with a match-best .647 attack percentage to close out the sweep.

With the second game tied at 8-8, Guessous had a kill that was then followed by three consecutive aces from Szerszen. The Buckeyes would lead by as many as eight points before winning to take a two-game lead.

Ohio State led by four points midway through in the opening game but Hawai’i rallied to tied the game at 22-22. However, Szerszen would have two kills on the final four plays of the game to help the Buckeyes win the first game.

With this victory, Ohio State will play BYU in the NCAA Tournament finals for the second consecutive year.