It’s been a season of streaks for the Ohio State women’s volleyball team: the Buckeyes won 13 straight to kick off the season, then lost eight in a row. Now OSU has won two straight and is hoping to build on its current streak.
OSU got back to its winning ways Friday in impressive fashion. The Buckeyes swept Indiana at St. John Arena, marking their first three-set victory of Big Ten play. The next night, OSU notched another victory, topping No. 14 Purdue, 3-1.
“Our confidence level has been renewed and supported, but I’m not going to sit here and say it’s high,” sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell said after beating the Boilermakers Saturday. “We know we still have a lot to work on.”
Regardless of work left to do, freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said the pair of wins can be a difference-maker for her team going forward.
“It feels like we’re right where we want to be honestly,” she said. “I think that this is going to be the turning point for us — this is just a lot of motivation for us going forward.”
Mitchell, who sparked the Buckeyes with 10 kills off the bench against Purdue, said her team was ready from the outset.
“Firing from all cylinders, ready to go,” she said. “Everyone’s on top, not only the front row, but the back row — everyone’s working together.”
Coach Geoff Carlston praised Mitchell’s play: “It was huge, it was absolutely huge.”
Mitchell’s career high in kills was good for fourth on the team, as senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary led the Buckeyes with 18 kills while Sandbothe and freshman outside hitter Kylie Randall each added 12.
Junior setter Taylor Sherwin tallied 48 assists and a service ace against the Boilermakers, despite dealing with an illness the night before against Indiana. Against the Hoosiers, she recorded 30 assists and a service ace.
“Taylor Sherwin is sick as a dog, we didn’t even think she was going to play today,” Carlston said after the sweep of the Hoosiers. “If we would’ve played another set, I don’t think she could’ve played.”
In the streak-breaking victory against Indiana, Leary tallied 19 kills while Sandbothe chipped in with 14.
“(Sandbothe) played really aggressive tonight,” Carlston said. “She’s got a toughness and a swag about her, and I thought she played excellent and showed that.”
That aggressiveness paid off as the freshman picked up a kill to close out the sweep for her team’s first win in more than a month.
“It’s huge to get that last kill, and it just feels so good and it feels so right for us right now,” Sandbothe said.
Leary said the wins were about the team, and not about any individual’s success.
“It was just a great team win,” she said. “Our passes were on and our defense was on. (Sherwin) did a great job of finding all of us hitters.”
With the sweet taste of victory in their mouths, the Buckeyes will have some time to rest before their next match. OSU is scheduled to travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for a match against No. 11 Minnesota, Friday, before traveling to Madison, Wis., for a faceoff with No. 14 Wisconsin Sunday.