Rankings are nothing in Big Ten volleyball.
The No. 17 Ohio State women’s volleyball fell to unranked Northwestern in four sets Wednesday in Evanston, Ill. The Buckeyes fall to 2-5 in conference play while the Wildcats made their own case for a Top 25 ranking with their second consecutive win over a top-20 opponent.
OSU has struggled in the Big Ten, but its first four in-conference losses came against ranked opponents. Since starting the season 13-0 overall, the Buckeyes had not dropped a single match to any team ranked outside of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll before facing the Wildcats.
Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary recorded a double-double for the Buckeyes, finishing with 22 kills and 11 digs, but added 10 errors.
OSU dropped the first set 25-20, even though Leary led all players to that point with eight kills. In the second set sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell did her best to spark the Buckeye offense, eventually leading to a set win. Kills from Mitchell and sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits finished off a 25-22 victory.
With the match tied at one set apiece, OSU took a 10-8 lead in the third, but eventually found itself down 22-16, eventually losing the set 25-19.
The Buckeyes trailed for the majority of the fourth set, but still nearly made an unexpected comeback. The Wildcats sat at 24 points, needing just one more to end the match, but OSU went on a run to make it 24-23. The Buckeyes could not hold on any longer and dropped the set 25-23.
After Leary, freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe tallied 13 kills and Mandolfo finished the match with 25 digs.
Behind Morin, Stephanie Holthus recorded 14 kills for Northwestern and Katie Dutchman added 11.
OSU (14-5, 2-5) return to Columbus briefly, as the team heads back to Illinois for a match against Illinois in Champaign Sunday.
The Buckeyes continue their string of road games Oct. 23 with a match at No. 4 Penn State in State College, Pa.