Despite defeating then-No. 15 Illinois in October, the No. 17 Ohio State women’s volleyball was unable to complete a season sweep in Champaign, Ill., on Wednesday, as it lost in five sets (17-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 12-15).
However, a pair of Buckeyes set career highs against the now-No. 12 Fighting Illini.
Senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger also set a career high in kills with 27. Her 27 kills is also a season high for the Buckeyes. Sophomore libero Valeria León set a career-high in digs with 26. Her previous high came against both Syracuse and Michigan State earlier in the season with 23 in each outing.
In addition to Sekinger, who led all players in kills, junior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell added 18 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe had 17.
Senior setter Taylor Sherwin also moved into OSU’s all-time top five for assists ahead of setters Jen Flynn (1996-99) and Jen Boleyn (1994-96) when she got her 3,215th career-assist. She had 55 assists for the night and now has 3,264 helpers in her career.
But the big numbers still weren’t enough for OSU.
Illinois senior opposite side hitter Liz McMahon, a native of Liberty Township, Ohio, led the Fighting Illini in kills with 15, followed by redshirt-junior outside hitter Jocelynn Birks with 14. Junior setter Alexis Viliunas had 42 assists and freshman defensive specialist Brandi Donnelly had 19 digs.
Buckeye junior outside hitter Katie Mitchell said nothing had changed much from the first match back in October.
“We followed the game plan,” Mitchell said. “Defensively we’ve gotta make some adjustments, but we’re gonna get better. We have another week in the gym to get better on our defense.”
Junior middle blocker Andrea Kacsits said every team improves throughout the season, but added that the Fighting Illini played well in areas it hadn’t planned for.
“They just grew in some ways that we weren’t able to defend tonight,” Kacsits said.
With the loss, the Buckeyes are now 18-9 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten, and have played in nine five set matches this season. Illinois moved to 20-6 this season and 12-3 in conference play.
In the past three seasons, the Buckeyes have gone to five sets against the Fighting Illini in four of six matches.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Michigan — which has lost six of its last seven matches — on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The match is set to start at 5 p.m.
Clarification: A previous version of this story said Illinois was No. 9, when in fact, it was No. 9 in RPI and No. 12 in the AVCA poll.