Sunday, May 8, 2011

Buckeyes Triumph to Conclude Bizarro Season

The NCAA men's volleyball season concluded last night. For UC Santa Barbara, which vanquished powerhouse USC in Thursday's semifinals, the Gauchos' gaudy hitting percentages of late (roughly .400 at the team level and as high as the .800s at the individual level) were (for the most part) nowhere to be found. Instead, it was an Ohio State squad, whose season featured such inauspicious outings as a loss to UC San Diego and a five-game match with Princeton, left standing.

The championship-match scores were 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, and 15-9.

The hitting heroes last night were wearing Buckeye red and white (box score). Grayson Overman hit .800 with 12 kills and no errors on 15 attempts (fear the faux-hawk!). Shawn Sangrey played more of a workhorse role, garnering 30 kills (with 9 errors) on 54 attempts (.389). OSU hit .329 as a team, compared to .198 for Santa Barbara. The Gauchos' stalwart, Jeff Menzel, was barely in positive territory (.025).

Obviously, winning Game 2 was important for Ohio State, not only to prevent an 0-2 deficit, but also (at least in retrospect) for how it seemed to shock UCSB. What I thought was key to Game 2 was OSU's high siding-out percentage (76%), which prevented the Gauchos from getting much traction whenever they went back to serve. In the decisive Game 5, the Buckeyes took siding out to a new level, 100%, while hitting .714 for the game.

The Buckeyes had 26 service errors, although a lot of them were at the beginning of the match. Perhaps the risky serving was an attempt by OSU to signal right from the start that it would be pulling out all the stops to try to win.

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