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Ohio State women’s volleyball looking to rebound against Illinois

Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor

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In tug-of-war type of game in which momentum and emotions flooded the floor, the No. 15 Ohio State women’s volleyball team defeated Northwestern, 3-1, on Wednesday night at St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes now own a 19-8 overall record and are 10-5 in the Big Ten.
Since their loss against then-No. 10 Minnesota on Sunday, coach Geoff Carlston said he has been focusing mainly on how his team would respond after a disappointing loss. Carlston was particularly happy in the way his team fought back after losing the second set against the Wildcats.
“I think we played some really good volleyball at times tonight, and you know … volleyball is volleyball that way,” Carlston said. “I really liked how we played in game three in particular, able to grind it out, win that one and respond after game two.”
Just like they did against the Gophers, the Buckeyes got off to a quick start. In set one, the Buckeyes looked like they may have been able to put the game on cruise control with a commanding 25-17 win in the first set.
Northwestern, though, seemed to have other plans in set two and orchestrated a comeback where OSU saw their 16-9 lead turn into a 27-25 loss.
For senior outside hitter Mari Hole, the third game was an important match that tested them both mentally and physically.
“Game three was just that, to try to come back from what happened in game two, and we did a good job of just staying focused, staying with the game,” Hole said. “Like they had the momentum coming into game three, so we knew they were going to be coming strong out of the locker room, and we just had to match that energy.”
Hole was proud of the way her team handled adversity, especially in a game where momentum didn’t seem to be on their side.
“I think we did a good job of just continuing, working on our stuff, and in game four we got the momentum back and we just kept going,” Hole said.
And at the end of the day, all that mattered to Carlston was that his team was the last one standing.
“I’m happy. It’s good to get out of here with a win,” Carlston said. “Get some rest and start getting ready for Illinois.”
As the season starts to wind down, Carlston acknowledged that this is the part of the year where they need to be sharp, stay fresh for upcoming games and for his younger players to adapt.
“I think everyone is tired,” Carlston said. “The Big Ten is grueling and so every team in our conference … this is where the freshmen, they’re already done with their state tournaments typically by now, and so they’re (younger players) in uncharted ground right now. We got five matches left, and they have been training hard for three months. We need to be fresh, as fresh as you can possibly be for Saturday’s match.”
Sophomore middle blocker Anna Faul said that it’s important to take care of their bodies in a strenuous season of the Big Ten.
“It’s definitely different than being completely fresh, but we just try to focus on taking care of our bodies and getting enough sleep so that it doesn’t affect us too much,” Faul said.
With the game against Northwestern in the books, Carlston is already expecting a tough fight from rival Illinois on Saturday.
“They’re another really good team that’s been ranked,” Carlston said. “Everyone is jockeying for their position for the NCAA Tournament, so I expect them to play well.”
Faul said every Big Ten game is important, but playing against Illinois will be an exciting game to her and to her team.
“Illinois will be an exciting team to play against,” Faul said. “It was an exciting match at their place, and I think we can get a good crowd at our home too.”
In order to defeat the Fighting Illini, Carlston pointed out a couple of key things that his team will need to do against a tough opponent.
“So we’re going to have to be healthy, be fresh and come out ready to fight from the get go,” Carlston said. “You just got to be ready to play.”
Faul said they just need to make sure that they don’t forget their basics, and continue to play their style.
“I think just staying focused the next two days, keep up our basics, keep up our basic digging, passing and hitting everything in the same groove we have been doing all season,” Faul said.
The Buckeyes play Illinois at 7 p.m. Saturday at St. John Arena.
 

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