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Ohio State’s Driss Guessous, left and Christy Blough try to block a kill attempt by IPFW’s Albert Klimek.

Mastodons sweep Buckeyes

IPFW advances to play top seed Loyola in semis

The set-up was similar and the outcome was the same, but the journey was a little different – and quicker – for the IPFW men’s volleyball team.

Just like the two previous times against Ohio State this year, the Mastodons won the first two sets in the MIVA quarterfinals Saturday needing just one more to close things out.

In those two earlier matches, the Buckeyes rallied to win sets No. 3 and No. 4 to make IPFW sweat out two five-set wins.

But Saturday at the Gates Center, there wasn’t as much perspiration as the fourth-seeded Mastodons closed the match out in a 3-0 sweep, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19, over the No. 5 Buckeyes to keep their season alive.

“The important part this time was we knew we couldn’t play around with them, and we had to start out strong,” IPFW sophomore Andrew Sellan said. “In the beginning of the third set, we had some big points. We call them real points, that’s where we get points off our serve, and we can continue to take advantage of them.

“We were fired up, and we had a big crowd. We knew it’s tournament time. We look at it as those two wins were last season.”

The chat between the second and third sets was real simple.

“We had done it twice, so let’s not do it again,” IPFW coach Arnie Ball said of the message. “We needed to come out and play at a higher level than what we played the previous two times.

“It was very similar to last time we played them. In the third set we settled down offensively and made some really good choices. Once the momentum turned, they kind of got frustrated, made some errors, and we didn’t.”

The Mastodons beat the Buckeyes 3-2 after winning the first two sets at home March 5 and on the road April 4.

IPFW (21-6) advances to play at top-seeded Loyola of Chicago (25-1) in the MIVA semifinals Wednesday. The Ramblers come into the semifinals as the top-ranked team in the nation and beat the Mastodons 4-1 and 3-0 in two matches this year.

“Obviously they are very good and the No. 1 team in the country, but they also have all the pressure on them,” Ball said of Loyola. “Maybe that’s in our favor.”

IPFW got 15 kills from Sellan, nine from Eddie Rivera and six each from Bryan Saunders and Albert Klimek.

Omar Rivera had 38 assists.

Against the Buckeyes, IPFW went up 19-13 in the third set, held a 20-16 advantage and was never really challenged at the end.

“We felt the pressure but we adjusted pretty well to it,” Sellan said.

After their second win against the Buckeyes, the Mastodons swept Quincy and Lindenwood 3-0 for a three-match winning streak to create some momentum heading into the MIVA tournament.

“We know we are playing at the top of our game,” Sellan said. “We played well tonight, but we can always play better.”

Ohio State finished the season 11-16.

gjones@jg.net

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