Fort Wayne, IN - Out of gas after an impressive two-set comeback, the IPFW upset bid of No. 13 Ohio State fell just short in the fifth set, 26-30, 21-30, 31-29, 30-24, 12-15.
From the first serve, the Buckeye offense dominated the pace, scoring the first four points of the match, a lead that they would maintain throughout much of the first period. The 'Dons made a late rally to cut the lead to three at 26-23, drawing a timeout from the Ohio State bench. The whistle calmed the visiting side and they came out of the huddle sharp, rounding out the first set with a 30-26.
The Mastodon front line out-blocked the Buckeyes in the first frame.
Ohio State carried over the momentum in the second set, riding runs of six and five points en route to a commanding 20-8 lead. A late challenge cut the lead to eight at 29-21, but heading into the second set two sets behind, the 'Dons chances looked slim.
But something happened in the second set break. With a shuffled line-up, featuring senior Corey Stewart at the setter position, the 'Dons took control and shined. The Buckeyes built and held a steady three-point lead throughout the set. With their backs against the wall, and the score at 28-25 in favor of the visitors, the IPFW offense clicked.
A laser kill off the hand of Jonathan Meyer, followed by an attack error by the Buckeyes, warranted a time-out from the Buckeyes bench. On the next play out of the huddle, the crafty Stewart tapped a ball into a Buckeye gap and followed that up with a pair of picture-perfect sets to give the 'Dons a 31-29 third set victory, sending the IPFW crowd into a frenzy.
In the third set win, the 'Dons hit at a .351 clip as a team as the balanced offense saw six hitters log kills.
With the crowd on their feet to start frame four, the 'Dons fed off the energy, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the set. A three-point run gave the Buckeyes a 13-12, but the IPFW answer came moments later as they rattled off six consecutive points to take a 21-17 lead. A late three-point run cut the lead to one at 24-23 but sophomore middle hitter Corey Frain lifted the squad, posting a huge block and kill combo to push the lead out to 27-23. A huge stuff by Oliver Kook and Elon Fyfield, sandwiched between Buckeye attack errors closed the set at 30-24, a commanding fourth set victory to send the match into a decisive fifth frame.
Stewart's play at the setter position led to a .314 hitting percentage in the match while the front line presence of Oliver Kook, Elon Fyfield and Corety Frain amassed seven denials in holding the Buckeyes to a .059 hitting percentage in the set.
The fifth set was neck-and-neck up until the 24th serve of bonus volleyball. Holding a 12-11 advantage, the Buckeyes' Kevin Heine slammed home a kill to take a two-point lead, followed quickly by a Buckeye time-out. Two of the next three plays, though, would come off the Mastodons' swings - unfortunately, one found the net and a service error bounced to the hardwood to close the outstanding match 15-12 in favor of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Darryl Shank, who posted 31 kills a night ago, responded with 24 tonight. Elon Fyfield followed with nine in the match. Corey Stewart posted 38 assists in the loss and Shank and libero Shaun Dryden posted 14 and 13 digs respectively.
As a team, the 'Dons posted 21.5 blocks, their highest tally thus far in the 2010 season. Shank led that category as well with seven block assists.
The heartbreaking loss drops the 'Dons to 7-8 overall on the year and 2-5 in MIVA play. Head Coach Arnie Ball and the Volleydons will return to action next weekend as they visit The University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras for a pair of Spring Break matches.