Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
When Ohio State women’s volleyball scored its match-winning point against the No. 4-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, emotions poured from the players.
The Buckeyes defeated Nebraska, 3-1, on Friday, delivering a home loss to the Cornhuskers for the first time in the last three years. On Saturday, OSU stayed hot, posting a 3-0 win at Iowa. Members of the Buckeyes said they’re now convinced they can beat any team.
“It was a huge win,” sophomore setter Taylor Sherwin said of the Nebraska win. “You know going into it, it was a little intimidating because they’re No. 4 in the nation, but we all were very confident in ourselves.”
With the two weekend wins, OSU improved 17-7 overall and 8-4 in its conference. The victory in Lincoln, Neb., was OSU’s first since 1991. The loss was also Nebraska’s first home loss since joining the Big Ten Conference.
After that final point against the Cornhuskers, Sherwin said she and her teammates rushed the court in celebration.
“I know going into the very last point watching, I had so much adrenaline on the bench, and I was just like screaming my head off and ran to the court when we won,” Sherwin said.
To senior middle blocker Mariah Booth, this was a victory that had a lot of meaning behind it.
“It was a really big win. It meant a lot to me being a senior,” Booth said. “Nebraska has only been in our conference for a second year, but obviously they are a very good team. So being able to beat them was amazing for us as a team and as a program.”
Every win in the Big Ten is special, Sherwin said, but victory at the NU Colesium was different.
“For me, winning that game was very exciting, especially winning it in Nebraska,” Sherwin said. “I know for the team winning at the Coliseum, which is nuts, was a very exciting game for all of us. I don’t think any of us could ask for anything better in that game.”
Coach Geoff Carlston said that he was proud of his team and how his players handled the intense environment in Nebraska. One thing that stuck out to him most was the leadership his seniors displayed even through adversity.
“It’s a sign of our four seniors,” Carlston said. “You don’t win that match without great leadership on the court, as much as I’d like to think that there’s some things we can do strategic and strategy wise, ultimately, it’s the group on the floor and the kids on the bench. Those 15 players are the ones that have to make it happen.”
OSU shows no signs of letting up at it continues its regular-season drive.
“We had lots of opportunities to choke that match away, but we just didn’t,” Carlston said. “They just refused to, and it was awesome.”
Carlston tells his players that every match is an important game. Against Nebraska though, even Carlston acknowledged the impact this game will have on not only the seniors, but on all of his players.
“Certainly looking back at the end of this season and these kids when they’re done with their career, I mean that’s only five teams have done that in the last decade, so it was a very big deal, and very proud of what they did,” Carlston said.
With wins at Nebraska and Iowa, the Buckeyes return home to play against Wisconsin on Friday and No. 10 Minnesota on Sunday at St. John Arena. Though the team is reeling off arguably one of its best wins in program history, coaches and players are making sure the team stays focused on the task at hand.
“Staying humble and not getting cocky, I guess you could say, but (we’re) just really staying focused in practice and working on the little things,” Sherwin said.
Booth knows that the challenge will be consistency, and that her team needs to play great every weekend.
“We’re definitely going to have to stay focused, and we can’t settle for last weekend even though that was a good weekend,” Booth said. “We still have many other weekends to do, so we can’t just live off of that in the past. We need to stay focused, keep pushing and hopefully we will end up where we want to be.”
With Wisconsin and Minnesota coming to Columbus, Carlston understands that staying focused will be a key to victory but also realizes his team knows what is important.
“I think this group understands that,” Carlston said. “I think the focus part is something that you’re always going to try to deal with because they’re dealing with stuff outside of volleyball. It’s changing of the weather, it’s finals and midterms, and we’re just trying to limit the distractions.”
With that win against Nebraska, Booth and Sherwin said they believe their team can do anything.
“Going into the second half of the Big Ten season, some teams are tired because it is a long season,” Sherwin said. “That (game against Nebraska) just boosts our confidence more to know that we can beat any team if we really put our minds to it, stay focused in games and don’t let runs come from other teams.”