The Ohio State women’s volleyball team showed it had matured since the last matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers. But it was growing pains and damaging mistakes that kept the Buckeyes from sealing the victory.
No. 3 Wisconsin swept OSU in three sets at St. John Arena (25-19, 26-24, 25-22) Wednesday night. The Buckeyes drop to 15-10 on the season and 5-8 in the Big Ten. The loss comes just before OSU is scheduled to play Indiana on Saturday.
The last time the two teams faced off, the Badgers walked away with a victory and won with a combined a combined margin of 23 points. This time around, OSU gave Wisconsin a fair fight for nearly every point, and loss by a margin of 11. Wisconsin entered the match on a three-game win streak and held a 19-2 season record.
OSU coach Geoff Carlston said his team made good strides tonight, but consistency wasn’t on their side.
“We were steady, but we just weren’t steady enough,” he said. “We just didn’t have any rhythm or sync.”
OSU held the lead and the momentum in the first set until a costly string of errors put them on the defensive. Another Badgers three-point run caused the set to slip away from the Buckeyes and would put Wisconsin up 1-0.
Junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said allowing a team like Wisconsin to score multiple points in a row in a close match is fatal.
“Three-point runs really can make or break a match for you because they get such momentum,” she said.
OSU would go on their own four-point run late in the second set to retake the lead after a brief Badger advantage, but errors from all points of play from the Buckeyes evened the score at 20-20 and gave the Badgers hope of a comeback. Wisconsin senior middle blocker Haleigh Nelson would go to work for the last two points of the match to secure her team the set victory.
The Buckeyes has several uncharacteristic errors, including 10 service errors 10 service errors during the match, four of which came during the second set. Schirmer said the errors were the result of working to serve more aggressively.
“We had a few more misses than normal, but you could see we were going after it,” she said.
The Buckeyes were ahead of the Badgers midway through the third set until they started to fall behind after a pair of kills from the Badgers’ Romana Kriskova. OSU battled back within a single point, but Wisconsin’s hitters capitalized on a handful of opportunities and secured the match victory.
Even though OSU didn’t pull off a win, another one of its own wrote her name in the Buckeye record books. With three blocks on the night, senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe locked down the top spot for most career blocks in school history (518) – a record that stood for more than 25 years prior to tonight.
Carlston has had two seniors smash milestones this season. Senior libero Valeria León clinched the career digs record on Oct. 22.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into that so it’s cool for (Sandbothe and León) to have their names locked in on those (records),” he said.
Looking ahead, the Buckeyes will play the Indiana Hoosiers for the first time this season on Saturday. Carlston said learning from tonight’s game will be critical for success.
“We can’t miss as many serves as we did. (We need to) lock our passing up a little bit better – that’s where it starts,” he said.
Schirmer said the Badgers attacked the Buckeyes’ weak spots tonight, but she’s hopeful her team can get the loose ends sewn up before their match against Indiana.
The Buckeyes will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to face the Hoosiers at 7 p.m. on Saturday.