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Shorthanded Buckeyes drop 2 against Michigan State and Michigan

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Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) hits the ball during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1. Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographer

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) hits the ball during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.
Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographer

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team, playing without a full lineup, could not end its lengthy losing streak when it took on No. 17 Michigan Saturday.

The Buckeyes, who have dropped eight straight matches, are still looking for a breakthrough in a tough Big Ten conference.

OSU is now 2-10 in the Big Ten after winning all 12 of its matches in non-conference play. It looked as if the streak might end as the Buckeyes took the first two sets against the Wolverines, but Michigan was able to win three straight, including a 15-7 decision in the fifth.

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell, who was cleared to play just in time for the Buckeyes’ Friday loss at No. 14 Michigan State after suffering an injury in practice earlier in the week, played in all five sets against the Wolverines.

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary recorded a career-high 31 kills against Michigan. Leary added 13 digs but also tallied 16 attacking errors. Freshman outside hitter Kylie Randall added 10 kills and senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo had a match-high 24 digs.

The Buckeyes had a .168 attacking percentage in the match, compared to a .226 clip for Michigan.

The Wolverine attack was spread out, as four players recorded double digit kills. Senior outside hitters Molly Toon and Lexi Erwin tied for the team lead with 16 kills. Senior middle blocker Jennifer Cross added 12 and freshman middle blocker Abby Cole pitched in 10.

The loss to Michigan, which is one of only two teams that OSU has beaten in conference play this year, came on the heels the Buckeyes’ second three-set loss to the Spartans this season.

The Buckeyes fell to Michigan State 25-21, 25-23, 25-17. Coach Geoff Carlston said OSU would be forced to play without two starters for the match in freshman setter Maggie Heim and Mitchell. Mitchell was cleared in time, but only played in the third set, while Heim missed both weekend matches because of illness.

The Buckeyes are also playing without junior middle blocker Anna Faul, who tore her ACL during non-conference play during the Blue and White Classic.

Randall led the shorthanded Buckeyes with 11 kills and Leary pitched in with 10, but the team finished with 22 errors, compared to 13 for Michigan State.

Spartan senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski led the match with 14 kills.

Coming off of two more road losses, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return home for their next two matches. OSU is set to host Indiana Friday before welcoming No. 16 Purdue Saturday.

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