Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) posted seven kills and a match-high 40 assists to pace the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team on Saturday evening, as No. 11 Ohio State University held on for a hard-fought four-set victory in non-conference play.
Ohio State (17-5) won the match by scores of 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, and 25-20, posting a .327 hitting percentage while holding Lees-McRae (16-11) to a .161 clip on the attack. The Buckeyes totaled 46 kills on the night to go along with eight blocks and six service aces. Lees-McRae recorded 48 smashes, including 16 in the third set, while posting seven blocks, six service aces, and 28 digs.
Jose Ribas (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) paced a balanced attack for the Bobcats with 12 kills, as Joshua Jones (Christmas, Fla.) added 10 smashes and three blocks (one solo, two assists). Brady Markle (York, Pa.) and John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) each posted eight kills, while Ramirez chipped in seven smashes, 40 assists, and two aces. Efrain Negron (Caguas, Puerto Rico) recorded a match-high 10 digs for the Bobcats.
Chen Levitan led the way for Ohio State with a match-high 13 kills, as Nick Gibson added 12 smashes and three block assists. Shawn Herron posted seven kills on nine swings, while Grayson Overman chipped in four smashes and a match high six blocks (one solo, five assists). Peter Heinen and Kyle Lawrence tallied 30 and 13 assists, respectively.
The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 9-3 lead in the first set following back-to-back blocks by Overman and Gibson. Lees-McRae answered with a 5-4 spurt, closing the gap to 13-8 on a solo stuff from Ramirez.
The teams would trade points over the next several minutes until the Bobcats went on a 6-3 spurt, cutting the advantage to 23-20 following a service ace by Ribas. Ohio State countered with two of the next three markers, claiming a 1-0 lead in the match with a pair of smashes from Levitan.
The Buckeyes carried the momentum into the second set, opening a 15-9 advantage following a Bobcat miscue. After Ribas countered for the Bobcats with a kill and a solo block to trim the margin to 15-11, Ohio State answered with a 7-2 surge, pushing the lead to 22-13 before closing out the set on a kill from Jonathan Newton.
Lees-McRae fought back in the third, rallying from an early deficit to take its first lead of the night at 17-16 following a Ribas smash on the heels of a 5-2 spurt. After the Buckeyes evened the tally at 21-21, the Bobcats answered with four of the next six points, halving the margin in the match to 2-1 following an emphatic smash by Ribas.
The Bobcats continued the run into the fourth, opening the frame with a 4-1 spurt before Ohio State answered with an 11-5 run, claiming a 12-9 advantage on an ace from Gibson. Lees-McRae battled back, cutting the lead to 16-15 following a Markle smash and back-to-back miscues from the Buckeyes.
After Ohio State countered with a 6-1 spurt to push the margin to 22-16, the Bobcats responded with three straight points, cutting the lead to 22-19 on a Buckeye miscue following an ace from Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio). The Buckeyes would stop the bleeding with three of the next four points, closing out the set and holding on for the 3-1 victory with a pair of kills by Michael Henchy.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Bobcats host King College in their Conference Carolinas regular season finale at 7 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium. The Bobcats will honor their 2013 senior class prior to the start of the match.
Photo Courtesy: Randy Ramirez, LMC Athletics