Fourth Estate Sports Reporter Teodor Handarov
The Mason men’s volleyball team stepped out of conference play on Sunday afternoon and lost to Ohio State University 3-1 sets (25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23) at the RAC.
That was Mason’s second loss to the Buckeyes (11-14, 6-7 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) this season after the Patriots (13-12, 7-5 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) lost their season opener to Ohio State 3-0 sets in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes’ redshirt junior Andrew Lutz led all attackers with 19 kills while redshirt freshman Driss Guessous added 15 for the visitors. For Mason, redshirt sophomore Paco Velez and freshman Radoslav Popov scored double digits with 15 and 11, respectively. Redshirt freshman Graham Gresham registered eight block assist and one individual block, on top of his six kills.
The Buckeyes took control early on in the first set and accumulated a five-point lead at 9-4. The Patriots cut it down to two with after two consecutive attack errors by Ohio State’s Miles Johnson and a serve ace by Jonathan Lutz. However, the visitors managed to bounce back and regain the lead, forcing Mason’s coach Frederick Chao to call a timeout at 13-8. It was the Buckeyes who came off the front foot following the intermission and increased the lead to nine at 19-10. The Patriots managed to make a 5-2 run toward the end of the set to cut the lead to six, but a kill by Guessous and an attack error by Velez settled the set in Ohio State’s favor.
After they tied the score at 2 with a kill by Popov, the Patriots never trailed again in the second set. They then went on a 5-1 lead to force the Buckeyes into a timeout at 9-5. Mason led by five, the highest in the set, at 11-6 and although it was cut to two points, three consecutive errors by Andrew Lutz and Guessous made it 15-10 Mason. The Patriots held a comfortable lead for the following minutes but they were given a scare when a kill by Henchy and an attack error by Jonathan Lutz cut the lead to two at 24-22. However, the latter redeemed himself instantly with a kill to tie the match with one set a piece.
The beginning of the third set was extremely close with the Buckeyes not being able to pull up by more than one. Mason took its first lead at 7-6 and the lead slowly crept up to reach the largest margin of four. With the score 14-10 in Mason’s favor, the Buckeyes managed to cut it to two with a kill by junior Dustan Neary and an attack error by Gresham. Another kill by Neary later made it a one-point game at 20-19, but the Patriots answered back with a run to make it 23-20. The Buckeyes then took the momentum and even two timeouts by Mason could not prevent them to finish the set on a 5-0 run.
The Buckeyes took that momentum into the fourth set and took the lead early on, but Mason kept it close. An attack error by Velez gave Ohio State a three-point lead at 8-5 and it later grew to four at 13-9. Two consecutive attack errors by Henchy and one by Guessous made it 13-12 and the Buckeyes’ coach called for a timeout. A 4-1 run by the Patriots after the timeout gave them their largest lead at 16-14. Once again, though, Mason could not keep its composure and the team gave up a 7-1 run. The Buckeyes trailed by four up to 23-19, but then they made their life hard with four consecutive attack errors by Guessous and Andrew Lutz to tie the set at 23. Yet, that is as close as the Patriots came to tying the match because a serve error by Velez was followed by a kill by Guessous to end the match, with the Buckeyes winning 25-23 in the fourth set.
Mason will complete conference play with matches against Princeton University in the next two weeks. The Patriots will first host the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m. At the same time, the Buckeyes will wrap up their regular season against No. 1 Loyola University Chicago.