After the women’s volleyball season opener against Texas State, senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe posted 999 career kills – just one swing away from a milestone few players are able to reach.
It would not be until the ninth point of the first set against a scrappy North Texas team that she would be able to celebrate her personal feat. In addition to Sandbothe’s own achievement, she also posted 19 kills and assisted with three blocks to help push the Buckeyes to two, early straight-set victories in the North Texas Challenge tournament on Friday. In addition, she was the overall kill leader with 26 in the Buckeyes’ bout against Texas A&M on Saturday.
Her efforts were combined with the swinging power of fellow senior middle blocker Kylie Randall. She shined in the first two matches, attacking at a .750 efficiency against Texas State and .538 versus North Texas.
Overall 14 players saw the floor this weekend, including the six Buckeye freshmen – holding true to the “tribe” mantra they created at the beginning of the season.
OSU reigned supreme at the tournament and clinched their first win over a ranked opponent this season during their match against Texas A&M.
The Buckeyes had no trouble with the Texas State Bobcats, holding them to under 20 points in each set. Texas State only saw two leads in the entire match, which were quickly taken back by OSU.
The Scarlet and Gray held Texas State to a mere .088 team total attacking percentage, which was no match for the powerful .413 number the Buckeyes put up.
OSU also served eight aces, three of which came from the hand of sophomore setter Taylor Hughes.
The Mean Green went tooth-and-nail with the Buckeyes, with the lead changing hands 12 times and coming to a stalemate on 30 occasions.
Even as North Texas moved within closer range, they were shut down in three sets: 25-23, 25-17 and 25-19.
Two Buckeye “tribe” members grabbed double-digit digs during the match: 13 by junior outside hitter, Luisa Schirmer and 10 by senior libero, Valeria León.
The third match pitted No. 15 OSU against the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies and proved to be the biggest challenge of the weekend for the Buckeyes. The teams came into the match without a loss on either side, and it would take a back-and-forth, five-set battle to see who would still be on a winning streak.
Texas A&M out-swung OSU 14 kills to 10 in the first set winning it 25-21.
The tone changed in the second set as the Buckeyes jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. However, A&M did not give up easily and was able to play back to a 12-10 advantage before OSU called a timeout. The lead changed multiple times before an attack error by A&M’s Emily Hardesty gave the Buckeyes their first game point opportunity.
It was a missed opportunity though, and play went into the 30’s before a kill by OSU’s Randall secured the second set win.
In the third set, OSU held a five-point lead before the Aggies took control at 21-20, and did not look back. At the end of the set, the Buckeyes were only hitting .179 as a team compared to over .300 by Texas A&M.
OSU needed a set win to stay alive, and win is exactly what they did, leading almost the entire fourth set. A&M tried to use a timeout to slow the momentum of OSU’s Sandbothe, but she was able to come right out with another kill. The Buckeye “tribe” then used their collective efforts to score the 25-18, much-needed victory, evening the match score 2-2.
The Buckeyes took the lead early in the fifth and final set and were able to remain calm even when the Aggies’ Jazzmin Babers had a kill to make the score 14-13. A collective block from Hughes and Randall ended the match.
OSU came out on top with a 3-0 record at the conclusion of the tournament. Hughes led the team with 13 digs and 44 assists while sophomore outside hitter Audra Appold contributed 13 kills.
The Buckeyes will have a week to rest up before they face LIU Brooklyn at Nationwide Arena on Sept. 2.