The Ohio State’s women’s volleyball team continued to struggle over the weekend against Big Ten opponents.
The No. 14 Buckeyes fell to 2-4 in conference play after dropping their match against No. 11 Minnesota in three sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-19) Saturday.
Leading the way for the Buckeyes was senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, who finished with 10 kills, but it was not enough to overcome the Golden Gophers, who finished the match with a .337 attacking percentage.
“We made a ton of mistakes and they didn’t and we knew that,” said coach Geoff Carlston. “We told the team that was going to be their game style.”
Leary said it is time for the Buckeyes to forget about their losses and return to their non-conference form.
“We just need to go back to the basics and what we worked on in the preseason when we were playing well, playing well together,” Leary said. “We’ll get back to that.”
OSU started off the season 12-0 heading into conference play before beating Michigan in its Big Ten opener. Since then the Buckeyes have lost four of five, but Leary said the team can still learn from its recent struggles.
“Every Big Ten game is a battle,” Leary said. “I mean, we’ve learned form every single game we’ve played so far so we’ll take a lot from this, get better this week and be ready for next weekend.”
Carlston said his team has to re-evaluate where they are as a group.
“We’re trying to find our identity a little bit,” he said. “That consistency is just not there right now.”
Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said the Buckeyes recognize they can play better, even coming off of the loss to Minnesota.
“It’s very frustrating just cause we know we’re all better than that,” she said.
Carlston added that the Big Ten, which currently features eight teams ranked in the Top 25, can force players to regroup on the fly.
“(The Big Ten) forces you to kind of look at yourself in the mirror because you just don’t have any easy matches. There’s no break,” Carlston said.
The loss to Minnesota came a day after the Buckeyes fell in five sets to No. 19 Wisconsin (20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-21, 15-10).
Sherwin said the match was tough to handle because the Buckeyes were in a position to win.
“There was disappointment because that was a match we were in the whole time,” she said. “But I think those matches, we just need to thrive (off) and just keep working hard in practice.”
Against the Badgers, Leary had 17 kills and 15 errors, while freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe added 13 kills with five errors and freshman outside hitter Kylie Randall tallied 12 kills with six errors.
While the offense was not at its best over the weekend, Carlston said the team has a lot of room to improve on defense.
“Our defense right now is terrible, it’s not good,” Carlston said. “We can be better on that end, I think we have really good players on our team, we have to commit to getting back to where we were two weeks ago.”
Carlston said his team’s conference record is not an indicator of its ability.
“We’ve got to remember that we’re a pretty good team, we’ve got some talent,” he said.
OSU is set to hit the road starting with a Wednesday match against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., before taking on Illinois in Champaign, Ill., Sunday and Penn State in State College, Pa., Oct. 23.
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