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Ohio State women’s volleyball splits weekend matches against Illinois and Northwestern

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) gets set before a serve during a match against Illinois Nov. 22 at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1. Credit: Tim Moody / Lantern reporter

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) gets set before a serve during a match against Illinois Nov. 22 at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1.
Credit: Tim Moody / Lantern reporter

Still fighting to grasp a semblance of tournament life, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team picked up a much-needed win against Northwestern, after falling to Illinois one night before.

The Buckeyes (17-13, 5-13) topped Northwestern (16-14, 8-10), 3-0, Saturday in a late-night match.

First serve was pushed back from 7 to 8:30 p.m. because a 3:30 p.m. kickoff for Ohio State’s football team.

Senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo said her team came in knowing it needed at least one win over the weekend, and hoping to redeem themselves against the Wildcats.

“(Northwestern) beat us when we went there and we were extremely frustrated,” she said of the Oct. 16 match. “So we came in here and we weren’t going to let them play with us.”

OSU jumped out to a 20-14 lead in the first set and never looked back, eventually winning 25-16. Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary led the way with 7 kills and just 1 error in the opening period.

From there, the Buckeyes went up, 7-2, in the second before the Wildcats pushed back. The Scarlet and Gray were eventually able to pull out a 26-24 win.

After that, OSU fell behind, 7-3, early in the third, but fought back to take a 12-11 lead. The Buckeyes eventually finished off the sweep, 25-18.

“It was a great start to finish match,” coach Geoff Carlston said. “The kids did the game plan perfectly. It’s exactly how we drew it up, exactly how we wanted to play.”

Leary posted 23 kills on the night to lead the way as the Buckeyes finished with a .298 attacking percentage as a team, compared to the Wildcats’ .148. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell added 10 kills while junior setter Taylor Sherwin had a match-high 46 assists.

“(Sherwin) put me in really good situations with their setter being up,” Leary said. “She kept giving me the ball and setting me where I needed to be set.

“She did a really good job this weekend.”

The victory against Northwestern came on the heels of a Senior Night loss to No. 20 Illinois Friday. OSU came out playing well, but eventually fell 20-25 in the first set. The Buckeyes followed that up with a 25-17 victory in the second, but could not hold the momentum as they dropped the final two sets (21-25, 20-25).

Leary led all players with 16 kills, finishing the match with a .324 attacking percentage, while freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe and junior outside hitter Erin Sekinger each tallied 13 kills.

Carlston employed a two-setter approach against Illinois, as Sherwin tallied 27 assists and freshman setter Maggie Heim added 23. Mandolfo led all players with 26 digs.

After the match, OSU’s three , Leary, Mandolfo and libero Davionna DiSalvatore were honored during Senior Night festivities.

Even though the team lost on Senior Night, Mandolfo said it felt good to get at least one win out of the weekend.

The three seniors will have one more chance to play in St. John Arena, though. OSU is scheduled to wrap up its home schedule Wednesday against No. 2 Penn State. The Buckeyes are set to travel to Iowa City, Iowa, after their date with the Nittany Lions for their regular-season finale against Iowa Saturday.

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