The Ohio State women’s volleyball team began its 2015 home schedule on Labor Day weekend with a trio of wins to take first place in the 10th annual Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic at St. John Arena.
OSU (5-1) topped Northern Iowa (3-3) and Florida State (3-3) in a doubleheader on Saturday before beating the Seminoles for a second time on Sunday.
A proficient .387 attack percentage helped OSU capture its second win of the weekend over No. 14 Florida State in four sets (25-19, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21).
Middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe led her team with 19 points, by way of 15 kills, five blocks (one solo) and an ace. After being named to her second consecutive all-tournament team, the junior said her confidence is high; both in herself and in her team.
“(We’re) ready to show what we’ve got and I’m really looking forward to these upcoming weekends,” Sandbothe said. “I think people should look out for the Buckeyes.”
Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell, who now is in her second season with OSU after transferring from Duke, led the team with 16 kills and also blocked four shots.
Both OSU setters were used heavily, as freshman Taylor Hughes assisted on 24 Buckeye points and senior Emily Ruetter added 21 helpers.
In the second game of the tournament, OSU won a back-and-forth match against No. 14 Florida State in five sets (21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 15-11).
The story of the game for both teams was defense. OSU held the Seminoles to a .102 attack percentage and tallied 14 blocks. The Buckeyes were held to a .110 attack percentage and had 15.5 shots blocked.
A big reason for the defensive success of OSU was libero Valeria León, who had 32 digs, the fourth-highest single-game total in school history and a personal best for the junior from Puerto Rico.
“It’s easy when my teammates around me are doing their jobs,” León said. “So I just do whatever I can to win the games. Our team is doing a really good job and I’m just trying to do my part.”
Sandbothe came up big for the Buckeyes’ defense as well, with seven blocks (three solo). She added 17 kills and two aces to lead the Buckeyes with 24 points.
Campbell and Hughes contributed to the win with double-doubles.
Campbell, who also broke the 20-point mark, had 20 kills and 11 digs to go along with three blocks (one solo).
Hughes had 42 assists and 13 digs, providing the OSU offense with a spark after entering the game in the middle of the first set with her team struggling. The freshman also added four kills, four blocks and two aces.
Before handling Florida State twice, OSU swept its first match of the weekend against Northern Illinois (25-21, 25-18, 25-14) and never trailed in the first or third set.
The Buckeyes did trail for most of the second frame but mounted an impressive comeback. With Northern Illinois up 17-14, OSU went on an 11-1 run to take the set.
Senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell helped to lead the Buckeyes, racking up 13 kills at a .250 attack percentage. Sandbothe had an efficient showing with 10 kills on a .625 attack percentage and three blocks.
In her first game in St. John Arena, the Texas Tech transfer Ruetter had 30 assists, seven digs and four blocks.
Sandbothe was named the tournament MVP thanks to her team-leading 55 points on 42 kills, 16 blocks and three aces. Campbell (45 kills, 25 digs) and León (58 digs) were also named to the all-tournament team.
Sandbothe said she was proud of her team’s performance, but feels they have even more to show moving forward.
“I think that we had a lot to prove today and we think we have a lot to still prove, but I was really proud of the way we came out and the heart we had and showed,” she said. “And winning MVP, having the greatest teammates, the greatest support staff, is really, really special.”
OSU is set to head back out on the road next weekend as they take part in the Blackbird Invitational in Brooklyn, New York. The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on host LIU Brooklyn at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by matches against Syracuse at 10 a.m. and Arizona at 5 p.m., on Saturday.