Middle attacker Aaron Milstead walking back to the King bench midway through the first game had a simple and pointed observation about Ohio State and outside attacker Jacob Pasteur.
“Their superstar is starting to get a little hot,” Milstead could be overheard telling the King bench and coaching staff.
The senior turned out to be right.
Pasteur led all players with 17 kills and had a season-high .667 attack percentage as Ohio State swept King 25-20, 25-16, 36-34 in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Sunday in Fairfax, Virginia.
The MIVA Player of the Year had 10 of those kills in the final game, including five kills during a 22-point overtime session. In addition, Pasteur in the overtime had two kills on King game-point chances and then had a kill that set up the eventual match-point.
This was the third consecutive postseason match that Pasteur had more than 15 kills. Pasteur, who spent the offseason playing overseas with the U.S. Men’s National Team, entered the NCAA Tournament among the national leaders with a 3.86 kills per game average.
Pastuer was one of three Buckeyes to have double-digit kills in the NCAA Tournament match that was played in front of 1,910 people in attendance.
Freshman Shane Wetzel contributed 10 kills with half them coming in the final game, while outside attacker Jack Stevens had 10 kills.
Setter Michael Wright guided the Ohio State offense to out-hit the ConfCarolinas champions .370 to .263.
Outside attacker Warren Davis in the loss had a team-high 14 kills. Davis helped King make its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in five years after having a combined 70 kills in three victories during the ConfCarolinas Tournament.
King middle attacker Kellan Kennedy also had nine kills and hit a team-best .462 against the Buckeyes.
The Tornado were limited to zero aces – the second time all season King did not record an ace.
Along with the offensive performance, Pasteur was second on the team with 19 service receptions and no errors. Libero Thomas Poole had a team-high 24 receptions and a match-high 10 digs.
King held Ohio State to one ace with libero Justin Sawyer having a match-high 29 receptions and zero errors.
King led the third game 17-13 before Ohio State tied the score with a 4-0 run that featured back-to-back kills from Pasteur. The Tornado rebounded and later in the game fought off two match-points to force an overtime.
The Tornado overcame seven more match-points in the overtime and had three of their own game-point opportunities that they failed to convert. King nearly had another game point opportunity at 34-33, but Ohio State coach Kevin Burch successfully challenged that a King blocker touched an Ohio State kill attempt and the call was reversed.
Ohio State following that successful challenge won two of the next three points to close out the second-longest overtime in the NCAA Tournament during the 25-point rally scoring era.
Ohio State had a match-best .500 attack percentage in its nine-point second game win. Pasteur led all players with four kills in the game, including two kills as part of a 5-2 late-game run.
Ohio State won the opening game despite being limited to less than a .200 attack percentage. The Tornado and Buckeyes were tied at 17-17 but Ohio State was able to close out the game on an 8-3 run that featured six errors from King.
King committed 15 errors in the first game, including an errant set that closed out the match.
Ohio State with this victory will advance to play Penn State in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday.
This will be the third meeting between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions this season. Penn State defeated Ohio State in the opening week of the season, and then the Buckeyes upset the then-No. 1/1 Nittany Lions in five games in March.
Ohio State and Penn State’s last meeting in the NCAA Tournament was 2008 when the Nittany Lions won en route to winning the national championship.