Former Ohio State middle lifts U.S. to another win at World University Games

Photo courtesy of Ohio State athletics

China learned just how difficult it can be going up against former Ohio State All-MIVA middle attacker Blake Leeson at the net.

Leeson finished with a match-high four blocks and added nine kills on a team-best 57.14 percent offensive efficiency as the United States defeated China 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 15-13 on Saturday in a pool-play match at the World University Games.

This was the second consecutive match that Leeson helped lead the United States to a five-game victory. Leeson had a match-high five blocks and added 11 kills in the team’s pool-play opener against South Korea on Friday.

Leeson was one of five U.S. players with at least eight kills versus China. Both Penn State outside attacker Brett Wildeman and UCLA opposite Brandon Rattray led the United States with 12 kills, while Stanford middle attacker Kyler Persho and Princeton outside attacker Parker Dixon each had eight kills.

Persho also finished with a 54.55 percent offensive efficiency and joined Leeson as the only players in the match to have at least five kills and a 50 percent offensive efficiency.

Former Concordia-Irvine setter Chandler Gibb guided the U.S. offense to a better efficiency than China at 33.33 percent to 20.00 percent. This is the second consecutive match to open the tournament that the United State had more than a 30 percent offensive efficiency.

Despite the loss, China’s Pengzhi Wu finished with a match-high 20 kills.

The United States with this victory remains in second place in Group B. The team following an off day will play Russia on Monday in a showdown between the only two undefeated teams in Group B.

The top-two teams in Group B at the end of this four-match pool-play round will advance to the quarterfinals.