by Cory Guinn
WILSON, N.C. – This weekend, the Barton College men's volleyball team will face arguably its toughest test in program history when it travels to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Ohio State Invitational.
Barton, picked by league coaches as the Conference Carolinas preseason favorite, will match up with No. 1 Ohio State University on Friday night at 7 p.m. on the Buckeye's home floor before taking on St. Francis (Pa.) University on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. The No. 4 team in the country, Long Beach State University will also be in attendance but is not scheduled to play against the Bulldogs.
Included below are details about Barton's trip to Columbus as well as links to live coverage of the event and additional information regarding the invitational.
When: Friday, Jan. 27 – Saturday, Jan. 28
Where: Value City Arena at The Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio
All-time Series: This weekend will mark the first ever matchup between the Bulldogs and the Buckeyes, however BC and the Red Flash of SFU will take the court against one another for the third time. St. Francis won the first match 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-19) in 2015, while Barton won last year's contest 3-2 (16-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12) in Wilson.
+The Bulldogs are 3-1 so far on the season, posting a 2-1 record in conference play after defeating North Greenville University and falling to Limestone College last weekend.
+Barton sophomore Vasilis Mandilaris ranks in the Top 25 of the NCAA with 3.36 kills/set, while brother Aggelos Mandilaris, a freshman, ranks 10th overall with a .462 hitting percentage. Senior setter Federico Pagliara 152 total assists and is 5th in the NCAA ranks with 10.86 assists/set.
+Ohio State, the defending NCAA Men's Volleyball National Champion, has won 30 consecutive matches dating back to February 2016 and are 7-0 on the season. The Buckeyes have also strung together 17 set wins in a row spanning the last six matches.
+Junior Nicolas Szerszen is the reigning AVCA National Player of the Year, and leads the Buckeyes with 4.13 kills/set and a .410 hitting percentage. Szerszen also has 16 aces on the year, while senior setter Christ Blough records 11.13 assists/set.
+Saint Francis has struggled to begin the 2017 season, posting a 3-4 record after taking on three nationally ranked teams including Ohio State one week ago.
+Senior Jeff Hogan leads the Red Flash attack with 97 total kills and 3.46 kills/set, redshirt-junior Stephen Braswell (83 kills) and redshirt-freshman Michael Fisher (79 kills) complete a balanced SFU offense.