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Women’s volleyball knocks off defending national champion Nebraska

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Sophomore setter Taylor Hughes (left) and senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (right) block an attack from Northwestern on Sept. 28, 2016, at St. John Arena. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News Director

Sophomore setter Taylor Hughes (left) and senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (right) block an attack from Northwestern on Sept. 28, 2016, at St. John Arena. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News Director

In a seemingly “David-meets-Goliath” battle, the No. 19 Buckeyes traveled to Lincoln to take on the No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska owned a 28-game winning streak and an undefeated season heading into Saturday night’s match.

After four sets of play, OSU celebrated one of the biggest upsets in its school history, defeating the defending national champions, 3-1.

Saturday marked the first time that the Buckeyes have beaten a No. 1 team while on the road.

Prior to Saturday, the Buckeyes held a 1-2 record in the Big Ten, coming off of a three-set sweep against Northwestern in OSU’s home opener on Wednesday. The Cornhuskers, holding a perfect record so far in 2016, hadn’t seen a loss since Oct. 24 of last year against Big Ten opponent, Wisconsin.

Freshman outside hitter Bia Franklin saw her first conference play start.

Play stayed close, until the Cornhuskers began to inch away mid-way through the set after a handful of blocks. The Buckeyes weren’t able to counter Nebraska’s play and dropped the set, 17-25.

It was the Cornhuskers who jumped out to an early lead in the second set, but that’s when the Buckeyes’ offense took off. One by one, OSU slammed down kills to even up the score.

By the time the score flashed 20-18 in the Buckeyes’ favor, Nebraska coach John Cook had seen enough and took a timeout. A Cornhusker kill came out of the break, and then OSU coach Geoff Carlston followed suit with his own timeout.

With the score at 21-19 OSU, junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer went to work offensively. In the last six points, she accounted for a pair of kills and an ace to seal the set victory, 25-21.

The score would be tied 13 times in the third set. Identical to the second, the Buckeyes would take the lead at 20-19 off of a kill by senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe. She followed that with another kill, an assisted block and a service ace all before the set’s end at 25-21.

OSU would go into the fourth with the 2-1 advantage over the No. 1 Cornhuskers.

Earlier in the week, sophomore setter Taylor Hughes said that Nebraska had everything to lose and she and her fellow Buckeyes had nothing to lose, prior to the match. Little did she know at the time, the Buckeyes would have the defending champs on their heels.

With the momentum in their favor, the Buckeyes went on a six-point run to overtake Nebraska before tallying the score, 19-8. The Cornhuskers couldn’t handle the pressure from OSU and toppled over to take their first defeat of the season to the tune of a service error and a final set score, 25-13.

Hughes led the Buckeye offense with a .500 hitting percentage. She also added 41 assists. Schirmer contributed 16 kills, followed by Sandbothe with 12 kills and seven blocks.

Sandbothe leaped up in the record books after Saturday’s performance and now holds the second place spot in career blocks with 481. She’ll need just under 40 more to capture the school record.

Freshman defensive specialist Camry Halm led the defense with 14 digs.

After Saturday’s match, OSU has won on the road against Nebraska three consecutive times and has come out on top in four of the last five meetings.

OSU will continue its Big Ten play against No. 18 Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan, on Friday.

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