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At the time, the moment was as 2014 Homestead graduate Blake Leeson called it, 'almost surreal and funny.'

It was match point in the NCAA Division I men's volleyball championship on May 7 against BYU and veteran Ohio State setter Christy Blough threw a wink at the 6-foot-8 Buckeyes redshirt freshman middle hitter and asked him 'What do you want?'

Leeson answered that he wanted the ball. He got a perfect set, slammed the shot down the middle and the Buckeyes were national champions.

And now Leeson, who three years ago was wondering whether his athletic career was over due to a traumatic injury, and who only started seriously playing volleyball four years ago, is marveling at how karma, good luck, hard work and having a body 'that decided it wanted to do a new sport' conspired to put him on top of the collegiate athletic world.

'I'm so lucky,' he said. 'The coach (at Ohio State) gave me an opportunity and I feel so blessed to have been able to take advantage of it.'

The title resulted in the Buckeyes making a 'red-eye' trip back to Columbus where they went to a women's softball game, stood on top of the dugout and let the subsequent standing ovation wash over them.

This has been quite a journey for Leeson.

It started in gym class in the spring of his junior year of high school.

Leeson, who started high school as a 6-foot-2 football player but who was quickly growing out of that sport and into a career as a state place-winning high jumper on the track team (third place his senior year) as well as a budding volleyball star, was working out on an exercise bike that was the wrong size for him.

'And I wound up rolling the bike and my foot got caught in the gear,' he said.

The result was a 75-percent tear to his Achilles tendon and a harrowing odyssey of visiting one doctor after another. One of whom said immediate surgery, another said rehab and still another said 'you'll never play a competitive sport again.'

Leeson and his family decided to stay optimistic and went the rehab route, including six to eight months of intense therapy that included ultrasound and soft tissue massage.

'It turned out that I was lucky,' Leeson said. 'The cut was pretty straight and that allowed it to grow back cleanly.'

He was able to salvage a small portion of his senior volleyball season in 2013 and was healthy enough to become a state-level high jumper in the spring of 2014 for the track team.

'I was just happy to get back,' he said.

While competing for the track team, he was getting back into volleyball through the Milwaukee Volleyball Club. He became part of a very good club team, of which he said 'about five or six guys' got NCAA Division I offers. That team would go on to place fifth in nationals in 2014.

Area volleyball coach Lisa Johnson at Elite Sports Club took an interest in Leeson.

Johnson thought that Leeson had a lot of potential so they put together a highlight video and sent it out on YouTube to as many collegiate coaches as they could find.

'She said 'We have nothing to lose,'' said Leeson.

As it turned out, the Ohio State coach Pete Hanson saw the video. He was coming into the Milwaukee area to look at other players and decided to watch Leeson, too.

The story, said Blake's mom Patricia, gets a little crazy after that point.

'Nine hours later, the coach from Ohio State contacts him and says that he wants him to come there,' she said. 'I remember him (Blake) looking at me and saying 'Mom, this is kind of a dream.''

Leeson took the partial scholarship and headed down to Columbus, where he was immediately red-shirted, getting a crash course in high-level volleyball. Ohio State is a major player on the NCAA level and had won a national title in 2011.

Blake Leeson said his learning curve has been steep.

'They liked the fact that I hadn't played that much,' he said. 'They told me that they get guys sometimes that have played so long they've developed some really bad habits. I didn't have those and they said they could teach me to do things the right way.

'The coaches just pay so much attention. I discovered it was a really different mindset.'

That included lifting weights and eating better. He is a much stronger 190 pounds as opposed to the skinny 170 he weighed in high school. It also included paying attention to his studies, which he did, having earned scholar/athlete honors in both academic years he's been at the school.

Following his redshirt year, Blake Leeson knew that he would have a shot because several seniors at his position graduated in 2015.

'We had a total of 21 guys out and everybody was going to get a chance to play so I really pushed myself,' he said.

The hard work paid off as he became the starter from day one (34 matches), finishing with 185 kills and an impressive .419 kill percentage with 90 total blocks.

'We hadn't been so hot the last few years (by the team's standards), but we had a feeling we'd be good, but we didn't realize that we'd be this good,' Blake Leeson said.

The team hit its stride in early February and never looked back. The Buckeyes would complete the campaign on a 23-match winning streak, including the MIVA Conference championship and all three NCAA matches.

'I think we were underdogs in all three of our NCAA matches,' said Blake Leeson.

A 3-2 win over UCLA in the semifinals was the most harrowing step along the road. The 3-0 win over BYU in the finals at University Park, Pennsylvania, stunned everyone, especially Leeson, who wound up being named to the All-Tournament team after a finals effort of 11 kills in 13 attempts.

As Leeson notes, life for him has taken some very positive swings lately.

That includes financially, too. As his value to the team rose, so did his scholarship. He said its value has essentially 'quadrupled.'

'If I hadn't gotten more money I probably would have gone to Minnesota (with its tuition reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin) or Oshkosh,' said Blake Leeson, 'because a lot of my friends are there.'

But now he's a committed OSU student having won the team's Buckeye Power Award for Work Ethic and Attitude. He is thinking of majoring in business/sports management and would love to coach in the near future.

He's happy now that his body decided it liked volleyball most of all.

'I would love to travel overseas for a few years and play for awhile (after school),' he said. 'It would be a great way to see the world.'