Retribution was served on the table tonight as the No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers took down the No. 19 Ohio State women’s volleyball team in four sets at St. John Arena.
Nearly two weeks ago, it was the Buckeyes celebrating a four-set upset on Nebraska’s home turf. The Huskers are the defending national champions and, at the time, stood undefeated. Tonight, Nebraska travelled to Columbus and handed OSU payback. The Buckeyes now stand at 12-7 on the season.
OSU was able to collect the first few points of the first set, but Nebraska quickly countered back with a six-point run and took the lead. Another Husker four-point run later in the set would put the score at 14-6. OSU could not reign in the Huskers and dropped the first set, 25-20.
The Buckeyes would only be able to hold onto an early lead in the second set for a short time before Nebraska’s hitters took the reins, forcing an OSU timeout. The Buckeyes played catch-up for the remainder of the set. They would eventually lose the second with a score identical to the first set, 25-20.
OSU went on its own four-point run early in the third set to be on top, 5-3. Buckeyes coach Geoff Carlston used his challenge card on a ball that was called out of bounds. The call was reversed, fueling OSU’s fire, lifting OSU to a lead as high as seven points. The Huskers closed in on the Buckeye lead, but some aggressive offensive play would give OSU its first set victory, 25-23.
In an arena swarmed with 2,600 fans covered in scarlet, it was hard to differentiate between those cheering for the home team or the visiting Huskers in the final set of the evening.
Going into the fourth set, both teams were fighting for their own motivations – OSU battling to continue the match and Nebraska to end it. In all, the score tied 14 times, with the lead changing hands five times.
The crowd was on the edge of its seats as each ball dropped to the floor. OSU came back from a three-point deficit late in the game to even the score at 24 each. The energy was tense as Nebraska’s Andie Malloy put down a kill to give the Huskers the set point. Malloy would then serve an ace, giving Nebraska the match win.
Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe led the team in kills with 19 and also combined for seven blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Audra Appold chipped in for 11 kills. Senior libero Valeria León added 16 digs to OSU’s defensive efforts, along with 13 digs from junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and sophomore setter Taylor Hughes.
OSU team members agreed the first two sets of the match showed the Buckeyes’ weak spots.
“(Nebraska) came out pretty good in the first and second sets. I feel like we should’ve given more competitiveness to it,” freshman defensive specialist Camry Halm said.
Appold shared Halm’s feelings and said the beginning of play didn’t speak the team’s true colors.
“We were pretty flat in the first two sets as a team…that’s not what we’re about,” she said.
Appold has been out with an injury since the last time the Buckeyes played in St. John on Sept. 28. She said she considered today to be her first time playing on home territory.
OSU won’t have much time to recover from tonight’s loss before they see play again. The Buckeyes will host the Iowa Hawkeyes tomorrow evening.
Halm said the key to bringing home a win tomorrow is simple.
“I just think that getting rest tonight is key and just going out there (tomorrow) and playing hard,” she said.
Appold said learning from Friday’s loss is important, but also knowing the team’s potential to be great.
“We know that we can be up there with the top teams,” she said. “(It’s) waking up tomorrow and getting after it in practice and getting it done.”
The Buckeyes will take on the Hawkeyes at 6 p.m. tomorrow at St. John Arena.