The Ohio State Buckeyes repeated as NCAA National Champions this year in front of their home crowd in Columbus Ohio. Combined with their 2011 Championships and Loyola’s 2014 & 2015 Championships, Eastern teams have won the last 4 NCAA National Championships and 5 of the last 7. Penn State made history in 1994 being the first school based outside of California to win an NCAA Championship. Coach Pete Hanson from the Ohio State Buckeyes took the time to meet with us about his programs success and the growth of men’s volleyball across Division 1.
“I think boys volleyball is growing nation wide in the US. If you want to be successful at this sport you can go anywhere across the country and have a high level of success collegiately. 20-30 years ago if you wanted a better than average chance to win you had to go to the west coast. I think that’s definitely changed. “
When asked about Motor MVB’s Project to create more opportunities for boys volleyball in the United States, Coach Hansen said “We would love to see growth at the division 1 level. I would love to see the Big 10, Pac 12, ACC or SEC or any of the power conferences. Getting it to be a little more on par with where the women’s game is in terms of being a main stream sport in those conferences.”
One area of the game that Ohio State has invested in that has contributed to their success is their world class serving. Ohio State was very aggressive from the service line this year with standouts Nicolas Szerszen, Miles Johnson, and Christy Blough. “It’s easy to potentially deal with 1 server, but when you’ve got 3 that keep coming at you. It eventually wares you down and breaks you. It’s a relentless amount of pressure.“ When asked how coaches can instill this philosophy with their own teams Coach Hansen said “We decided as coaches we needed to buy into this. We need to turn these guys loose and allow them to do this and understand if we’re on we’re going to be great and if we’re off some there is a chance we lose or things don’t go well. But it’s worth the risk.”
The need for getting teams out of system contributed to the patience Ohio State had with this serving philosophy. “When the setter is on the net with all options and the back row guy is available they are going to score at will on you when they are in system. You have to find a way to minimize that and serving has become a component of that.” Over the season the Ohio State players managed their errors and continued their relentless level of pressure. During the season Ohio State earned 225 aces while their opponents earned 98 against them.
Canadian fans are aware of Ohio State’s playing style. The Buckeyes have had a relationship with McMaster University over the last few seasons. “Coach Preston’s team plays a great level of volleyball. They beat us pretty good and that was good for us. There was some differences for us and we didn’t respond to the situation very well.” Fans can get excited, McMcaster has announced their schedule for the 2017-2018 season that includes a two matches against the Buckeyes October 21 and 22. “Our experience with Coach Preston and McMaster has been extraordinary and we’d like to continue it. I like to play different opponents and different styles of opponents. I think it’s good for both programs. Now we just have to find a way to beat these guys.”
Looking ahead to the 2018 season, Ohio State will have a good core of players including Nicolas Szerszen return as they compete for their 3rd straight national title. If the Buckeyes capture their 3rd straight title they would join the UCLA Bruins as the only two teams to hold this record in NCAA Men’s Volleyball history.