The rematch of the last two NCAA Tournament finals is now set.
The defending NCAA champions Ohio State announced on Wednesday its 2018 schedule that features an early season non-conference home match against BYU on Jan. 13.
The Buckeyes have swept the Cougars in back-to-back national championship matches. In addition, this will be the second time this decade that two teams from separate conferences have scheduled a non-conference match against each other the season after playing in the NCAA Tournament finals.
Ohio State graduated two All-American starters from last year’s championship team but returns with All-American outside attacker Nicholas Szerszen.
The 2017 International Player of the Year finished last season in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.73 kills per game average. Szerszen also had a match-high 16 kills on a .480 attack percentage and two aces as the Buckeyes on their home court beat the Cougars to win their third NCAA title this decade.
BYU, similar to Ohio State, will have to replace two All-American starters from its 2017 team that earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, both All-American outside attacker Brenden Sander and Lloy Ball Award finalist setter Leo Durkin return for their senior seasons
This will be the first time since 2006 that Ohio State and BYU have scheduled a regular season non-conference match against each other.
BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said at a news conference before the NCAA Tournament finals that he wanted to renew the series with the Buckeyes. Olmstead also said he told Ohio State coach Pete Hanson during the recent NCAA Tournament that he wanted his team to play Ohio State in a 2018 non-conference match.
Despite the two recent losses in the NCAA Tournament, the Cougars still lead the all-time series 11-6 and are 5-2 on the road against the Buckeyes.
The BYU match will be Ohio State’s second of four consecutive non-conference matches against MPSF schools. Ohio State will play host to Stanford on Jan. 12 before traveling the following week to the West Coast for matches against UCLA and USC.