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Ohio State volleyball ‘hungry for a win’ against Illinois

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Senior Kaitlyn Leary spikes the ball in a match against Michigan at St. John Arena Friday, Sept. 27. OSU won, 3-1. Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographer

Senior Kaitlyn Leary spikes the ball in a match against Michigan at St. John Arena Friday, Sept. 27. OSU won, 3-1. Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographer

After dropping its third straight Big Ten match, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team is not quite ready to hit the panic button.

The No. 17 Buckeyes have to keep their focus with yet another conference road match looming.  OSU is scheduled to travel to Champaign, Ill., to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary said in an email that the team is “hungry for a win.”

“Obviously, looking at the record, it’s not where we want to be,” she said.

Buckeye coach Geoff Carlston said his team has played well in tough situations, but is still searching for a way to get over the hump and finish off a victory.

“We need to get a win, we’re working hard to get one,” Carlston said. “We play well under pressure, we need to be playing like that when it’s 12-12.”

Senior libero Davionna DiSalvatore said in an email that the Buckeyes must return to their own brand of volleyball and put their recent struggles behind them.

“It’s not how we want to start,” DiSalvatore said. “We have to keep fighting and working hard in practice and get back to Ohio State volleyball.”

While it may not be where they want to be, Leary and her teammates agreed that there is no reason to be alarmed.

“The Big Ten is a battle every night,” Leary said. “The good thing about this conference is that we all have a chance to improve and play each other again.”

Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said in an email that she expects the team to step it up going forward instead of worrying about its 2-5 record to start conference play.

“There isn’t a time (to) panic because we are going to come back stronger (against Illinois),” she said.

The Buckeyes sit at 14-5 overall, but have fallen to No. 17 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll.  A loss to Illinois would mark two straight matches dropped to unranked opponents for a team that started the year 13-0.

Leary, Sherwin and DiSalvatore were an echo of each other as all three players said the team will focus on Illinois until the match is over, even with a date scheduled against No. 4 Penn State Oct. 23.

“We will be focusing on beating Illinois,” DiSalvatore said. “We focus on one game at a time.”

Carlston said the focus against Illinois will be to eliminate avoidable mistakes, adding that his team outplayed Northwestern in many categories during its most recent loss.

“We need to cut down on our errors, (against Northwestern) we gave them too many points,” he said. “We actually out-dug them, we won a lot of different parts of the game. The game that we lost is we made too many hitting errors, and that’s on me as the coach.”

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