(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – No. 1 seed BYU men’s volleyball fell to No. 3 seed Ohio State in three sets (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) in the national championship match of the NCAA tournament at Penn State's Rec Hall Saturday night.
“Hats off to Ohio State," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "They put together a remarkable season. They were absolutely the better team tonight. These are the moments when you have to dig deep and be as composed as you can. They put a lot of pressure on us that we just couldn't overcome in the end. I'm proud of the guys for an outstanding season.”
Brenden Sander led the Cougars with 14 kills on a .500 clip while adding three blocks. Jake Langlois and Price Jarman each contributed five blocks and Ben Patch added seven digs and 10 kills. Leo Durkin collected 32 assists and four blocks.
A pair of kills and an ace from Sander helped BYU (27-4) take a 6-5 lead against Ohio State (31-3) to start the first set. Durkin completed a dump kill to extend the lead at 10-8. The score remained tight, though, as the Buckeyes tied the set 15-all on an overpass kill. Sander, Durkin and Michael Hatch teamed up for a triple block that gave the Cougars a 20-18 edge, forcing Ohio State to take its final timeout of the set. The Buckeyes countered with a 3-1 run to tie things up at 21 apiece, but BYU collected its first set point on a Patch, Langlois and Jarman block. After multiple Cougar set points, Ohio State took the lengthy set 32-30.
BYU took a 3-1 lead to start the second set from a Patch kill. The Cougars then capitalized on back-to-back blocks to take an 8-5 advantage. The score was tight from there as a Sander kill kept BYU ahead 12-10. A kill by Langlois helped the Cougars stay in front 17-15, but a 4-1 Buckeye run tied the set at 20-all. Ohio State took its first lead of the set since the 1-0 mark at 22-21, and then closed out another close set 25-23 on a BYU service error.
The Buckeyes took a 3-1 advantage in the third set and stayed ahead 13-7, fueled by consecutive service aces, en route to a 6-1 run. A Langlois kill ended the Cougars' drought and BYU stayed within four, down 16-12, after another Sander kill. An Ohio State kill put it up 22-14 before another kill closed out the set and match 25-17.
Sander and Langlois were added to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Additionally, Jake Arnitz (UCLA), T.J. Defalco (Long Beach State), Blake Leeson (Ohio State), Nicolas Szerszen (Ohio State) and Miles Johnson - MVP (Ohio State) were also added to the team.
The Cougars lose just one starter, Michael Hatch, and five additional seniors from the 2017 BYU squad.