The weekend wasn’t kind to the Ohio State women’s volleyball team, as they dropped two matches on the road against Michigan State and OSU’s main rival, Michigan.
Up first were the No. 21 Michigan State Spartans, who silenced the No. 14 Buckeyes in a 3-0 sweep on Friday. OSU then travelled to Ann Arbor to take on the No. 23 Michigan Wolverines. The Buckeyes would only secure one set before falling to their foe, 3-1.
The pair of losses comes on the heels of OSU’s upset over then-No. 1 Nebraska on October 1. After this weekend, the Buckeyes hold a 2-4 conference record. The team is 12-6 overall.
OSU would be starting another new lineup against the Spartans. Sophomore outside hitter and regular starter Audra Appold was still out due to an injury that originated before the Buckeyes’ match against Northwestern on Sept. 28.
The Buckeyes would be playing catch-up for the entire first set. Unforced errors forced OSU head coach Geoff Carlston to burn a timeout early on in the set.
The Spartans would go on a 4-0 run to make the score 18-9 before Carlston used his remaining timeout for the first set. The Buckeyes couldn’t respond to the Michigan State offense and would drop the first set, 18-25.
Much like the first, Michigan State would carry the lead for the entire second set. The Buckeyes pulled within reach of a tie mid-set until the Spartans started to gradually increase their separation. An OSU service error would secure the second set win for Michigan State.
The third set would carry a different tune as the teams would see 10 tie scores and the Buckeyes would hold their first lead of the match. Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe and junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer combined for nine kills and sparked OSU’s offense.
With the score tied at 21-21, it seemed like the third set could go to either team, but in the end it was the Spartans who would score the match point and complete the sweep of OSU, 25-23.
Sophomore setter Taylor Hughes led the team in hitting percentages with .429. She also added 23 assists and combined for four blocks.
In front of a sold-out crowd in Ann Arbor, OSU would face their school rivals, Michigan. The Wolverines started the match out strong, jumping out to 6-0. After an OSU timeout, Sandbothe hammered down a kill and finally put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard.
However, OSU errors would continue to dig a deep hole for the team. At 12-4, Michigan was boasting an errorless hitting game compared to five errors for OSU. The Buckeyes would score seven unanswered points later in the set to close the gap, but three costly OSU service errors would give the first set to Michigan, 25-20.
The second set saw 13 tie scores, two lead changes, and proved to hold true to the meaning of the rivalry.
Midway through the set, each team’s offensive numbers were explosive: .400 for the Buckeyes and .611 for the Wolverines. Schirmer put away seven kills alone in the second set.
It was Michigan who would get the first set point at 24-23, followed by an OSU hitting error. The Wolverines would have the advantage going into the third set, 2-0.
OSU may have been going into the third with a disadvantage, but they weren’t going down easily. The Buckeyes took the early lead at 11-7 and forced a Michigan timeout after an ace by Hughes.
OSU would get their first set point of the match from a kill by Sandbothe that would push the duel into four sets.
The fourth set was a crowd thriller. OSU was able to come back from an 18-9 deficit to even the score at 21-21. The Buckeyes were able to fend off two Wolverine set points, but two skill Michigan plays would secure their match victory.
Sandbothe and Schirmer paced the Buckeyes’ offense with 17 kills each, while senior libero Valeria León collected 23 digs.
OSU will be back at St. John Arena for a rematch with the No. 3 Nebraska Huskers on Friday.