More People Are Running Fewer Are Playing Bar Sports

Running, jogging and triathlons are in. Football, paintball and horseback riding are out. So are sports that can be enjoyed with a beer — or three.That’s the quick take on the latest survey from the Sport & Fitness Industry Association, released Monday. The group — a partnership of six industry associations — fielded nearly 20,000 surveys in January and February, asking Americans (both individuals and households) about their physical activity last year. Overall activity was flat, a turnaround from declines in recent years.Individual sports and activities, though, showed bigger changes, some of them dramatic. The number of people who participated at least once in adventure racing or a traditional triathlon increased by more than 25 percent last year compared with the year before. Meanwhile, nonmotorized scooter-riding and non-inline roller skating experienced big declines.Even with such a big sample, year-by-year changes in individual sports may not mean much. I limited the analysis to activities with an estimate of at least 2 million participants last year, but that still means a change of 10 percent could be a difference of just a dozen or so respondents. And that’s when looking at total participants. The group also reports more regular participants, but that means an even smaller sample size. (Also, as I noted when writing about this survey in a recent piece, the survey is fielded only in English, which could skew results for activities that are unusually popular or unpopular among U.S. residents who are less comfortable speaking to strangers in English.)We get a more reliable picture when looking at five-year trends.Triathlon and adventure racing still top the gainers list. Kayaking, trail running and yoga are other solitary or noncompetitive endeavors increasing in popularity. Meanwhile, activities popular in bars or in other venues where beer often is sold — including pool, darts and bowling — are losing ground. So are all varieties of football — though touch football sustained the biggest percentage decline, suggesting concussion fears aren’t solely to blame.To sum up: We’re bowling alone — or together — less often, but running, paddling or posing more. read more

Inside One Of The Best Defensive Matchups In Super Bowl History

Source: Football Outsiders, FootballPerspective During the 2015 regular season, the Broncos and Panthers allowed the NFL’s fewest and second-fewest yards per play, respectively, and finished 1-2 defensively in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) ratings. It’s only the eighth time the top two DVOA defenses1Using estimated ratings for seasons prior to 1989. have met in a Super Bowl, and the average defensive index of the teams involved ranks third all-time, trailing only Super Bowls XIV and IV. Everyone is obsessing over the study in contrasts at quarterback — Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning — but it’s the two defenses that should be taking center stage in the lead-up to Sunday, because by just about any measure, this is one of the best defensive matchups in Super Bowl history. BroncosRunning the ball against the Broncos’ defense is like running into a brick wall erected around another, thicker brick wall. It had the league’s fourth-best defensive DVOA against rushing plays during the regular season and was particularly fearsome up the middle, allowing the league’s fourth-fewest expected points per rush between the tackles. According to ProFootballFocus.com’s player grades, defensive end Derek Wolfe was the eighth-best interior run defender in the NFL; Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall also ranked among the top 11 run defenders at linebacker, with Von Miller ranking ninth against the run among edge rushers. If the Broncos have a weakness against the run, it’s in short-yardage situations — they allowed the league’s second-highest power success rate2Defined as the percentage of runs that achieved a first down or touchdown on third or fourth down with 2 yards or less to go, or on first- or second-and-goal from the 2-yard line or closer. — but they offset that with one of the league’s highest rates of stuffing runners behind the line of scrimmage, and they almost never allowed long runs. Only 7.4 percent of carries against the Broncos went for more than 10 yards, the third-lowest rate in the league.And Denver’s ability to stop the run is by far the weaker aspect of this defense. According to DVOA,3Again, indexed relative to the league’s distribution of pass defenses. the 2015 Broncos’ pass D ranks as the 11th-best of the Super Bowl era after blowing away the competition this season. The Panthers’ DVOA against the pass ranked second in the league but was about two-thirds of a standard deviation worse than Denver’s. 2004Buffalo135129135 2002Tampa Bay146114148 1988Minnesota144121146 2015Denver135120135 1999Tampa Bay12791134 YEARTEAMOVERALLVS. RUNVS. PASS Best pass defenses of the Super Bowl era (1966-2015) 2008Pittsburgh133125133 1980Washington11886132 2009N.Y. Jets136114134 1991Philadelphia150147142 2013Seattle137114140 1994Pittsburgh131114132 1974Pittsburgh139130138 2003Baltimore135125132 1985Chicago135119137 1982Miami12785143 1998Miami133114137 1977Atlanta127115132 1969Minnesota134123132 2012Chicago140130136 DEFENSIVE DVOA INDEX 1970Minnesota135118136 What makes the Broncos so great at defending the pass? For one thing, they led the league in adjusted sack rate, with coordinator Wade Phillips dialing up five or more pass-rushers on 42 percent of opposing pass plays, fourth-most in football. Those plays are statistically graded as blitzes, but in a Denver 3-4 alignment featuring some of the game’s top pass-rushing linebackers, the lines between a blitz and a D-line that simply creates pressure on its own start to blur. According to PFF, Miller was the top pass-rushing edge defender in the game, and his partner on the opposite side, DeMarcus Ware, ranked sixth. Meanwhile, Wolfe and Malik Jackson also finished among the top 11 pass-rushing interior linemen. And when the Broncos do need to blitz from unusual places, safety T.J. Ward can create havoc; he tied for sixth among DBs with a pair of sacks this season.But the front four is only part of the equation — a blitz-heavy scheme falls apart quickly without the ability to cover receivers. This Denver D doesn’t necessarily rely on its secondary as ball hawks; Aqib Talib’s modest total of three interceptions led the roster, and the team’s interception rate was merely average. Instead, all of the Broncos’ primary defensive backs (Talib, Ward, Chris Harris Jr., Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby) and linebackers (Trevathan and Marshall) ranked among the upper quartile at their positions in PFF’s coverage grades, sticking to receivers so effectively that only St. Louis allowed fewer air yards per completion. (“Grading” players is often a fool’s errand, since you can never be sure about coverages and assignments, but when pretty much the entire secondary grades out in the upper crust, those problems are minimized.) And no team allowed fewer overall passing yards per attempt or yards per completion than the Broncos did.PanthersFor all the lofty achievement and outright dominance by the Denver squad, the Panthers’ defense might actually have the edge in star power: Not only will it have arguably the best player on the field Sunday in LB Luke Kuechly, but Carolina’s D also outearned Denver’s in first-team All-Pro selections (3 to 1) and tied it for Pro Bowl nods (4 apiece).It’s indicative of the way these defenses stack up: Carolina’s top defensive players — Kuechly, CB Josh Norman, LB Thomas Davis (playing Sunday with “a plate and probably around 11 or 12 screws” in his arm, which he broke during the NFC championship), DT Kawann Short — can hold their own with anybody on Denver’s roster. But the lesser Panthers defenders aren’t quite as good, which makes Carolina’s statistical profile sort of “Broncos Lite.” Their strengths are similar, but the Panthers are slightly inferior to Denver whether they’re defending the pass or the run.Stylistically, however, the Panthers do operate differently in some important ways. At the most elemental level, they run a 4-3 scheme that relies less on creative blitz packages and pressure from the edges, instead using Short to generate a pass rush from the middle of the defense, and fellow DT Star Lotulelei to occupy blockers and eat up space. The end result was fewer sacks and less pressure overall, but that only makes Carolina’s performance in coverage even more impressive. Despite giving opposing passers the league’s sixth-most seconds in the pocket per drop-back, the Panthers allowed the 11th-fewest air yards per attempt and seventh-lowest completion percentage.It all starts with Norman, who has few peers when it comes to blanketing receivers. Alongside him, the Carolina secondary is littered with such solid cover DBs as Kurt Coleman, Roman Harper, Cortland Finnegan and Tre Boston, all of whom PFF rated among the top half of their respective positions in terms of pass coverage. This depth proved important because Carolina used five or more defensive backs on 463 pass plays this season (26 percent more than the NFL average), more than any other team despite a banged-up secondary that suffered a number of key losses.Speaking of which: The only glaring hole in the DB corps might be Robert McClain, whom PFF rated as one of the worst cover corners in football since signing with Carolina at midseason after a rash of injuries befell the team. But coverage ratings for individual players often don’t tell the whole story, and the rest of Carolina’s roster rates well in pass coverage — Kuechly was graded by PFF as the game’s best cover LB. The all-around cover skills of Carolina’s entire D helped them yield the league’s second-lowest rates of yards per attempt and yards after the catch.Against the rush, Carolina profiled a lot like Denver: It was poor at stopping runners in power situations (worst in the league, in fact), but it also stuffed a lot of runs behind the line of scrimmage. The biggest difference is that, unlike the Broncos, the Panthers did yield some long runs; they ranked 15th at preventing what Football Outsiders calls “open field” yards — i.e., rushing gains starting more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — per carry (Denver ranked second). That’s one reason why this is a good run defense but not a great one.All told, this is the 15th-most evenly matched defensive matchup in Super Bowl history according to DVOA. And the quality of offensive competition each defense will face ought to help level the playing field even more. Denver’s historically great D is facing a very good Carolina offense led by the suddenly amazing Newton at QB; Carolina’s great-but-not-historically-so defense is facing one of the worst offenses to take the field in a Super Bowl — particularly when it comes to passing.The Super Bowl is all about pomp and spectacle, razzle and dazzle, offensive fireworks and star quarterbacks booking FastPass times at the tea cups. Sometimes that leaves little room for an appreciation of subtler things, like defense. But in this case, all eyes should be on that rougher side of the football — it will be a long time before you see another defensive clash of this caliber on Super Bowl Sunday.Check out our live coverage of Super Bowl 50. read more

Does A Team Need A Championship To Be The Best Of All

FiveThirtyEight Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (June 21, 2016), we talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and wonder how much championships matter when we talk about history’s greatest players and teams. Then, we welcome ESPN FC’s Mike Goodman to chat about the USMNT’s run to the semifinal of the Copa America. Finally, Mike stays around to break down the opening games of the 2016 Euros, and we ask him what’s going on with Cristiano Ronaldo. Plus, a significant digit on the matchup between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA.Links to what we discuss are here:Ben Morris wonders if the Steph Curry revolution is over already.Ben Morris’s original piece on why Steph Curry is revolutionizing basketball.Reuben Fischer-Baum writes the Warriors aren’t even the second-best team ever.Neil Paine says LeBron led the Cavs on one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history.ESPN Stats & Information Group breaks down how LeBron carried the Cavs to the title.LeBron is so great, says Bryan Armen Graham in The Guardian, he should now be considered the greatest of all time.Mike Goodman asks whether the USMNT has finally turned the corner under Jurgen Klinsmann.The Guardian wonders why casual fans have stayed away from this year’s Copa America.Over at the Euros, The Upshot breaks down how teams can qualify for the next round.And, Sam Borden looks at what the new tournament structure has meant for fans from smaller countries.Borden also delves into Cristiano Ronaldo’s frustrations after Portugal’s tie with Austria.You can find Mike Goodman’s new soccer podcast, The Double Pivot, here.Significant Digit: 23. That’s the combined number of games the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx had played in this season’s WNBA without losing. The Sparks lost 72-69 to the Lynx on Tuesday evening. If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. read more

Tulane Safety Devon Walker Suffers Serious Spine Fracture

Tulane safety Devon Walker was seriously injured during Tulsa’s 45-10 victory over Tulane, with reports indicating that Walker actually stopped breathing on the field and needed CPR and a tracheotomy.Reports later indicated that Walker suffered a spine fracture after taking a blow to the head delivered by a teammate as they both attempted to make a tackle right before halftime of Saturday’s game against Tulsa in H.A. Chapman Stadium. After Walker was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, he was diagnosed with a cervical spine fracture and edema (swelling) in his spinal cord. Doctors say Walker will need spinal surgery and it’s not clear whether the injury has caused any paralysis.But Tulane team Dr. Buddy Savoie seemed intent on downplaying the drama of the on field emergency. He said drama said Walker never lost consciousness and his life was never in danger, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.“I think it went as well as it could go,” Savoie said. “There are always concerns about stability, but he is stable right now. He was stable when we transported him. I do not think based on the information we have that his life was ever in danger.”Some sideline media reported seeing medical staff giving chest compressions consistent with CPR, and the Golden Hurricane’s trainer reportedly said Walker had a collapsed lung in addition to the broken neck.The Tulsa World reported: “Medical personnel administered CPR as Walker was motionless at the north end of the field.”Savoie did not say whether Walker had feeling or the ability to move his extremities. He did not respond to text messages from the Times-Picayune looking for more detail.In the press conference, he did say Walker’s spine was swollen, that Walker was in traction (immobilized) and would need surgery in the next day or so.“It was just a difficult day, probably the most difficult day ever,” Tulane first-year coach Curtis Johnson said after the game. “Just seeing one of our guys, one of our family members out on the ground, go in an ambulance. … I don’t know they could focus on what they are doing. … I thought about saying hey, let’s just not doing anything else. Let’s just get on the road and go and see Devon.”“The current plan is for him to have surgery in the next one to two days,” the Tulane athletic department released in a statement. “He is being treated by specialists. The Tulsa physicians did a great job taking care of Devon.”Walker is a hard worker in the classroom as well as on the field, where he made the team as a walk-on. Walker is a cell and molecular biology major with designs on becoming a pharmacist like his sister, Yolan Bender. read more

How The Spurs Turned It Around

According to our projections, the San Antonio Spurs currently have an 87 percent chance to make their 22nd consecutive playoff appearance. But only two months ago, our projections gave them just a 4 percent chance of making the postseason while they were struggling with new players and a bad defense. In the video above, Chris Herring walks through what’s changed for San Antonio and where things stand for the franchise as we march toward the playoffs.

The 2016 NFL draft class a special one for Ohio State

Former OSU defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) celebrates after making a sack during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 in College Park, Md.Credit: Lantern file photoOhio State coach Urban Meyer was all smiles on Friday on the NFL Network’s set for the 2016 NFL draft. Meyer could be seen celebrating every time one of his former players had his name called this weekend. The 2016 OSU draft class is one for the books.Mostly led by underclassmen from Meyer’s first recruiting class, OSU was a metaphorical pipeline for the NFL, producing 12 overall selections through the weekend.Although Joey Bosa was considered by many to be a potential first overall pick as the 2015 season concluded, his draft stock slowly dropped after producing what many deemed to be subpar numbers for a player of his expected caliber at the NFL combine.Even with the criticism, the San Diego Chargers made Bosa the first Buckeye taken in the draft with the third overall pick. His presence of the edge should be immediately felt next season.Ezekiel Elliott was the next OSU product to be selected. The Dallas Cowboys took the former high school track star at No. 4 to bolster a running game that suffered last year after the departure of Demarco Murray. The remainder of the first round saw Eli Apple taken at No. 10 by the Giants, Taylor Decker selected by the Lions at No. 16 and Darron Lee picked up by the Jets with the 20th pick.Five picks in the first round ties the mark set by the 2006 draft class for most players drafted in the first round for OSU. This marks the second time OSU fell just shy of the record of selections in the first round, which is six, set by the University of Miami (Fla.) in 2004. All five of the picks were within the top 20. Two more Buckeyes saw their NFL dreams come true in the second round, as the New Orleans Saints selected both wide receiver Michael Thomas at No. 47 and safety Vonn Bell at No. 61.Thomas was a favorite of the Saints coaching staff and provides a solid target for veteran quarterback Drew Brees.Bell was also sought after by Saints coach Sean Payton but was not expected to fall into the second round. Multiple mock drafts saw Bell being a late first-round selection.Both Thomas and Bell join former Buckeye linebacker James Laurinaitis, who was signed as a free agent this offseason by New Orleans. Three more former OSU starters found new homes in the third round, highlighted by Braxton Miller to the Houston Texans. The Texans had previously selected former Notre Dame standout receiver Will Fuller. Both athletes are known for breakaway speed and stellar athleticism.Adolphus Washington became a member of the Buffalo Bills, and Nick Vannett will be playing at CenturyLink Field next season with the Seattle Seahawks. The final two selections for the Scarlet and Gray went on opposite ends of the fourth round, as linebacker Joshua Perry became the fourth pick of the the fourth round, and quarterback Cardale Jones was the last player drafted in the fourth. Perry joins his Bosa in San Diego. It came as a surprise to no one, as Bosa appeared on camera in California to announce the 102nd pick. The crowd roared as the two members of Meyer’s “Silver Bullets” were reunited.Jones was the final Buckeye selected in the 2016 NFL draft but found a good fit with the Buffalo Bills. Bills coach Rex Ryan likes athletic quarterbacks who can push the ball downfield, and Jones fits the bill.Two notable former OSU players, H-back Jalin Marshall and safety Tyvis Powell, did not hear their names called over the course of the three-day festivities. However, Marshall was picked up after the draft by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent, along with former offensive lineman Chase Farris, who signed with the Detroit Lions. Powell, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz, will sign as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. The 12 players mark a new record for the NFL draft for most players from one program selected through four rounds.Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to update where Tyvis Powell signed as an undrafted free agent. read more

Young Ohio State wrestling team topples Virginia Tech

The No. 10 Ohio State wrestling team knew they would have to wrestle above their years in order to beat an older and more experienced No. 15 Virginia Tech team. With three matches decided in the final 10 seconds of play, the team did just that in beating the Hokies, 21-12, in front of 2,474 fans in St. John Arena Sunday. “I think they grew up a lot,” coach Tom Ryan said of his team. “It is an exciting group.” The match started in the 174-weight class with No. 4 redshirt sophomore Nick Heflin earning a victory by decision 6-2 to give the Buckeyes an early three point lead. Redshirt junior C.J. Magrum, the most experienced wrestler for OSU, followed that match up at 184 pounds with a 12-6 decision victory. One of the most exciting matchups of the meet was No. 14 freshman Andrew Campolattano against redshirt sophomore Nick Vetterlein. Campolattano held a 3-1 advantage heading into the final period. After a Vetterlein escape, the lead was down to 3-2. “Andrew … is not used to being in matches like that,” Ryan said. “He made a positioning mistake with 10 seconds to go.” With just two seconds remaining in the match, Vetterlein earned a takedown on Campolattano for a 4-3 victory to tighten the meet to 6-3 Ohio State. With the heavyweight matchup, the Buckeyes took a decisive lead in the meet as redshirt sophomore Peter Capone defeated No. 17 redshirt senior David Marone by injury default. Capone was in a position behind Marone and buckled Marone’s right knee in a takedown attempt. Marone fell to the mat crying out in pain and after two injury timeouts, the match was declared over. “It is a legal move, but it’s terribly unfortunate,” Ryan said. “This early in the year, he’s a good heavyweight and it certainly impacted the match. Hopefully it’s not bad.” With a 12-6 lead, the Buckeyes never looked back. Freshmen No. 16 Cam Tessari and No. 15 Hunter Stieber each earned decision victories back-to-back on takedowns with less than 10 seconds left. After both victories, Ryan ran around the bench in excitement pumping his fist. “It felt great,” Tessari said. “I felt like I was kind of being the aggressor the whole match and it wasn’t going my way. I knew if I kept it up the whole match it would happen for me.” Stieber said that despite the win, the team’s performance was “average” and did not wrestle as well as they could have. “We wrestled good period, but we didn’t wrestle good matches,” Stieber said. “And that’s what we got to do to win.” Stieber’s older brother, No. 4 redshirt freshman Logan Stieber, won his highly anticipated match against No. 5 sophomore Devin Carter 6-1 to improve his record to 8-0. No matches were won by more than six points and each match except one, Capone’s injury default victory, was won by decision. “Normally they are up by twelve … they’ve won so much,” Ryan said of his young team. “The matches we won late were because we attacked and the matches that we lost late were because we didn’t attack. You gotta keep attacking.” The Buckeyes (4-0) will be back in action Dec. 2 and 3 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. read more

Ohio States LaQuinton Ross professional future unclear after conflicting reports

Junior forward LaQuinton Ross (10) skies for a shot during a game against Dayton March 20 at First Niagara Center. OSU lost, 60-59.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorAll season long, Ohio State men’s basketball struggled with scoring.In 19 of the Buckeyes’ 35 games this season, they scored less than 70 points, going 11-8 in those matchups en route to finishing the season 25-10.The team has already lost three players for next season — senior guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., as well as sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle, who is heading back to Europe — and now might be without its leading scorer.According to a report Monday by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, junior forward LaQuinton Ross has decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.Ross, however, took to Twitter to dispel any rumors that he is in fact leaving Columbus after leading the Buckeyes with 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 2013-14.“To all the people tweeting me I haven’t said anything so guys are wasting your time!! I didn’t make a decision!” a tweet posted at 3:24 p.m. from Ross’ personal account, @qross2011, read.An OSU athletic spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Monday afternoon.The report comes two days after sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle announced via Twitter he was leaving OSU to pursue a professional career in Europe.Ross’ departure would leave the Buckeyes with 10 scholarship players on roster for next season, even with the addition of the four players already signed for the 2014-15 season. Among those are guard D’Angelo Russell, center David Bell and forwards Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate.Without Ross, OSU coach Thad Matta would have three scholarships to work with to try bolstering the roster, as NCAA rules allow college programs to have 13 players on scholarship each season.Following OSU’s 60-59 loss to Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, Ross said he would decide on his future “in the next couple of weeks.”“Just basically how I feel, get insight of where I could go (in the NBA Draft),” Ross said Thursday after the loss to the Flyers about the factors that would play into his decision. “What we would have next year, sit down with my coaches and my family. Taking that advice in.”After losing to Kentucky 62-60 in the Sweet Sixteen as the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed in 2011, former Buckeye stars Jared Sullinger and William Buford elected to come back to OSU for another year — Sullinger’s sophomore year and Buford’s senior year. But after the loss to Dayton, Ross said he doesn’t know if he’d do the same.“I don’t know man. They knew what they was coming back to. They had a great system, a great system for them,” Ross said. “That year that Will came back they brought in our class and they knew they were going to have players around them.”Ross is projected as the 18th pick of the second round by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Draft according to DraftExpress.com. The draft is set for June 26.On his final call-in show of the season Monday with 97.1 The Fan, Matta said he spoke with Ross that afternoon, and then would do the same in the evening to discuss his future. After seeing his team bow out to Dayton in the second round Thursday, Matta said he “always wants what’s best for our guys.”“If it’s right, I’ll be the first to tell him to go,” Matta said. “He’s got to sit down and look at it. I think he’s capable of coming back here and having a great senior year if he wants to do that.”Ross did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment Monday. read more

Football Ohio State names 2017 team captains

OSU redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) scans the field after a snap during the 2017 Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 15, 2017. Credit: Mason Swires | Former Assistant Photo EditorNine Ohio State football players, including redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett, the first three-time captain in program history, were named team captains Monday evening.The players, which include five defensive players and four players on offense, were voted captains by their teammates.Redshirt senior center Billy Price and redshirt senior defensive end Tyquan Lewis join Barrett as multi-year captains. Only 10 players in Ohio State football history have been named team captain more than once.Three underclassmen — redshirt junior defensive end Sam Hubbard and redshirt junior receivers Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell — and three other upperclassmen — senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes, redshirt senior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle and redshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley — were also named team captains. read more

Mens Volleyball No 1 Ohio State drops first match of the season

Junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen spikes the ball during the NCAA national championship game on Saturday. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterIt took five sets, but the No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball team (3-1) upset No. 1 Ohio State (2-1) 3-2 Saturday night at St. John Arena in front of 2,237 spectators. The first set of the early-season rematch between the two teams in the past two NCAA championship games foreshadowed what proved to be a competitive match. The Cougars had an impeccable set for serving, committing only two service errors. Despite powerful jump-serves drilled by the Cougars, the Buckeyes were able to get the ball up and to setter Sanil Thomas, who was then able to work in-system plays.Consistent, quick and powerful attacks from senior outside hitters Nicolas Szerszen and Maxime Hervoir and redshirt senior opposite Jake Hanes put the ball to the wood and started the Buckeyes off with a win in the opening set 25-21.Despite losing the first set, the Cougars came onto the floor hungry for the second set. The Buckeyes won the first point after a kill from Hervoir, but the Cougars managed to side-out and take the lead and run with it for the entire set as communication diminished on Ohio State’s side of the net. BYU’s defense improved significantly in the second set, lowering Ohio State’s hitting percentage from .750 in the first set to .300. The Cougars claimed the set 25-21. In the third set, the Cougars maintained their momentum, shutting down Ohio State’s offense with three blocks and 13 digs. Ohio State’s hitting percentage dropped further to .258 and the home team was unable to overtake the Cougars, losing 25-20. Ohio State won the first point of the fourth set after a right-side kill by Szerszen and kept swinging hard throughout the set, eventually adding a second set 25-21. Thomas assisted on 15 of the Buckeyes’ 18 kills.At the beginning of the fifth set, the game remained largely up for grabs. BYU pulled away after a 5-5 tie and ended the fifth set 15-8, winning the match 3-2.Cougar outside hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez scored 24.5 points in the match — the most for both teams. BYU setter Leo Durkin assisted on 42 of the Cougars’ 53 kills. Outside hitter Brenden Sander contributed 15 of BYU’s match points.Hervoir had 20 kills for the Buckeyes, the most kills in the match by a player for both teams. Thomas topped both teams in assists with a total of 55, and Szerszen tied second for kills in the match with Cougar player Garcia Fernandez with 19 kills. read more