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Ohio State women’s volleyball continues Big Ten struggles against Illinois

The Big Ten continued to take its toll on the Ohio State women’s volleyball team Sunday.

The No. 17 Buckeyes fell to 2-6 in conference play after falling to the unranked Illinois Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill., 3-1.

The Buckeyes got off to a quick start, looking like they might be able to get back to their early season form. Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, who came into the match with 995 career kills, sparked OSU on its way to a 10-point set victory in the first.

Leary, who made it to 1,000 career kills in the first set, ended up leading the match with 20 kills on the night, but it was not enough to overcome the Fighting Illini.

OSU started off the season 13-0, but since then the Buckeyes have dropped six of seven matches and are still searching for their first victory since beating Indiana Oct. 5.

After a convincing win in the first set, OSU dropped the second as the scores flipped. Illinois took all momentum from the Buckeyes on its way to winning three consecutive sets to close out the match.

The team’s win over the Buckeyes marked its second victory over a ranked team in Big Ten play; Illinois beat then-No.14 Michigan in five sets on Oct. 5.

On top of Leary’s 20 kills, sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits chipped in with nine of her own, but the Buckeyes also recorded 21 attacking and eight service errors.

Illinois outhit OSU with a .275 attacking percentage compared to a .193 clip for the Buckeyes.  For the Fighting Illini, Liz McMahon led the way with 18 kills, Morganne Criswell chipped in with 15 and Jocelynn Birks added 14 of her own.

OSU is scheduled for a short break before heading back out on the road to face No. 4 Penn State in State College, Pa., at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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