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Women’s volleyball: Ohio State set to play Missouri State in first round of NCAA tournament

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Members of OSU women's volleyball team celebrate after a point during a match against Nebraska on Oct. 14 at St. John Arena. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News Director

Members of OSU women’s volleyball team celebrate after a point during a match against Nebraska on Oct. 14 at St. John Arena. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News Director

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team was selected for the NCAA tournament draw and will play Missouri State in the first round of postseason competition in Manhattan, Kansas at 6 p.m. on Friday.

The tournament selection tallies 22 NCAA appearances for the Buckeyes during the program’s history. In 2016, OSU advanced to the regional semifinal game before falling to Washington in five sets.

The Buckeyes will be going into the match with the Missouri State Bears carrying a 20-10 overall record and 10-10 within the conference.

OSU experienced all the emotions that playing in the Big Ten brings during the regular season. Upsets were common on both sides of the net, referred to by senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe as “the nature of the beast” that is the conference’s competition.

The Buckeyes stunned the No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Oct. 1 with a 3-1 victory. OSU also broke a decade-long losing streak to Penn State when they defeated the Nittany Lions in five sets in front of the fourth-largest crowd in St. John Arena history. On an individual scale, Sandbothe and fellow senior Valeria León made their own marks when they broke the career blocks record and career digs records, respectively.

Amidst the victories, the Buckeyes also were surprisingly unraveled by other Big Ten foes. They split the series 1-1 with both Maryland and Indiana, two teams ranked at the bottom of the conference standings.

OSU faced a tough schedule draw that required the team to adjust to life on the road. The Buckeyes went weeks without seeing the floor of St. John Arena, and on many occasions, the team members said that being away from home was an exhausting factor.

Friday won’t be the first time that OSU has battled with the Bears. The Buckeyes traveled to Springfield, Missouri, early in the season and lost a tight five set match to Missouri State as part of the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational tournament.

The Bears are currently hitting .238 as a team, led by outside hitter Lily Johnson with 596 kills this season. This marks 12 NCAA tournament appearances for Missouri State. Last year, the Bears were knocked out in the first round by Missouri, 1-3.

If the Buckeyes can secure a win against the Bears, they will move on to the next round to face the winner of the Lipscomb and No. 14 Kansas State match.

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