FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s volleyball team dropped a five set thriller against Ohio State (25-21, 20-25, 26-28, 27-25, 15-12) on Thursday, April 7 at the Gates Sports Center on Arnie Ball Court. 

With the loss, the Mastodons’ overall record drops to 15-11 and 6-7 in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. Ohio State’s record improves to 12-13 overall and 6-7 in the MIVA.

After dropping the first set, the ‘Dons got out to an early 9-5 lead in the second. During the stretch, Rico Wardlow had two kills, while Kade Bontrager, Jon Diedrich and Vicente Ibarra added kills. Bryce Walker also added two service aces. The Buckeyes eventually took a 19-17 lead. However, the ‘Dons finished the set on an 8-1 run. The serving of Carlos Mercado was a big reason for the late push. He had one ace in the stretch, but his service pressure flipped the set in the Mastodons’ favor. It helped force the Buckeyes to bench starting setter Noah Platoff late in the set.  

Neither team led by more than two points to start the third set. Despite being down 22-18, the ‘Dons went on a 6-1 run to tie the set at 24-24. Zach Solomon had two service aces during the run. The ‘Dons scored four of the last six points to win the set. In the stretch, Diedrich had two kills and scored the set clinching point off a service ace. 

In the fourth set, Ohio State led by as much as 13-8. The ‘Dons responded with a 15-10 run to tie the set at 23-23. In the stretch, Diedrich, Wardlow and Ibarra each had multiple kills. The ‘Dons turned away two set points but ultimately the Buckeyes won the set. 

The Mastodons and Buckeyes went back and forth to start the fifth set. The ‘Dons scored consecutive points once, to go up 3-2. It was their only lead of the fifth set. Ohio State scored consecutive points to go up 4-3, 9-7 and 15-12. 

As a team, the ‘Dons hit .349 and had 11 service aces. Walker recorded a career-high six aces. 

Offensively, the ‘Dons were led by Diedrich with 22 kills and. He hit .357. Ibarra added 14 kills and hit .414. Solomon had a career-high 51 assists. Over the last two matches, Solomon has 93 assists and is averaging 10.33 assists a set. Troy Gooch led in digs with 14, a season high for a MIVA match. This is the seventh time Gooch notched 10+ digs in a match. He reached 200 digs for the season in the match. 

The Buckeyes hit .437 as a team. Samuel Clark led the Buckeyes with 21 kills. 

The ‘Dons host Ball State on Saturday, April 9 (7 p.m.) in the regular season finale. The ‘Dons will celebrate senior night and will honor three graduating student-athletes prior to the game.