Heading into conference play, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team is firing on all cylinders.
OSU captured its third straight tournament title this weekend at the Golden Grizzlies Invitational in Rochester, Michigan, extending its winning streak to 11 in the process. The Buckeyes wrapped up their non-conference slate by defeating Eastern Illinois (5-8) and Western Michigan (3-11) on Friday, followed by a win against tournament-host Oakland (5-8) on Saturday.
The third and final game of the weekend proved to be the toughest test for OSU, but the Buckeyes were able to defeat Oakland in four sets (25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-18).
OSU survived a scare in the first set, but wasn’t so fortunate in the third, dropping a set for the first time on the weekend. The team responded well, however, winning the fourth set without ever trailing.
Big contributions came from across the board, with five different Buckeyes recording 10 or more points in the match.
Senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson led the way with 15.5 points on 11 kills and six blocks (three solo).
Junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe and senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell were next with 15 points, as both had 13 kills and four block assists. Campbell also added 12 digs for her second double-double of the weekend and fifth of the season.
Also registering double-digit points were senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell (13.5) and freshman outside hitter Audra Appold (10.5).
After getting limited playing time in the first two games of the weekend, senior setter Emily Ruetter assisted on 36 of those points after stepping in midway through the first set.
Defense again played a big role in an OSU win, as the Buckeyes recorded 11 blocks and held the Golden Grizzlies to a .154 attack percentage. In what has become a regular occurrence, junior libero Valeria León led all players with 18 digs.
In game two of the weekend, OSU made quick work of Western Michigan, coming away with a convincing sweep in three sets (25-11, 25-20, 25-21).
After trailing 7-6 in the first set, the Buckeyes were able to grab the lead for good and did not face a deficit again for the remainder of the contest.
Campbell had her first double-double of the tournament, leading the OSU offense with 12 kills while adding 10 digs and two aces. Freshman setter Taylor Hughes also had a double-double — her fourth in five games and fifth overall — with 29 assists, 11 digs, two kills, two blocks and two aces.
Sandbothe (10 kills, three blocks) and Richardson (seven kills, five blocks) again had solid all-around games.
OSU fell behind only once in its first game of the weekend, as the Buckeyes handled Eastern Illinois (25-13, 25-20, 25-16) with ease.
Campbell again led the OSU attack, picking up 12.5 points on 12 kills and a block assist. Mitchell added nine kills — seven coming in the second set — and Appold nearly had her first collegiate double-double with nine kills and 11 digs.
Hughes saw her three-game streak of double-doubles come to an end, but she still continued her strong stretch of games with 31 assists, eight digs, five kills and three blocks against the Panthers.
Fresh off her MVP performance in OSU’s previous tournament win and a Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week honor, León led all players with 22 digs.
The game also featured the return of junior outside hitter Kylie Randall, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury last season and had yet to play this year. Randall had two kills in her 2015 debut.
Sandbothe was named the most valuable player of the tournament, finishing the weekend with 29 kills, 10 blocks, nine digs and one service ace. For the third straight weekend, Sandbothe was joined by Campbell (37 kills, 24 digs) and León (56 digs, two aces) on the all-tournament team.
A date at home with No. 23 Minnesota on Wednesday is next on the ledger for OSU as it starts play against the Big Ten conference, which currently boasts eight ranked teams.