The Ohio State women’s volleyball team kept rolling over the weekend, as it captured a pair of conference victories on its home floor in St. John Arena, including a win over a top-five team.
OSU (14-2, 3-1) defeated Iowa (10-7, 0-4) on Friday, followed by an upset win against No. 4 Nebraska (12-2, 3-1) on Saturday.
The Nebraska game was another five-set match for the Buckeyes — their third in four games of Big Ten play — as they grabbed the win over the Cornhuskers (22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 17-25, 15-10), who had handed top-ranked Penn State its first loss the night before.
“What I told them between games two and three is that this is our opportunity,” OSU coach Geoff Carlston said. “Do we want to be the 15th-best team or do we want to show who we really are? I basically said, ‘You deserve this, you’ve worked hard. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t go out there and win this match.’”
Freshman outside hitter Audra Appold led the way for the OSU attack against Nebraska. Appold came out firing for 19 of her 22 kills in the first three sets and added 17 digs to pick up her first career double-double.
“I just went out with a go-for-it mentality,” Appold said. “And everyone was doing their job, so it was a full-team effort.”
Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell also came up big in the win with a double-double — her eighth of the year — by way of 20 kills and 17 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Luisa Schirmer added 14 digs, nine kills and a solo block. Freshman setter Taylor Hughes nearly topped a personal best set last weekend against Wisconsin with 50 assists.
“We had a lot of heroes tonight,” Carlston said. “Everyone on this team really is climbing the mountain together, and that’s what’s important.”
OSU took a quick lead in the first set against the Cornhuskers and led by as many as five points, but couldn’t hold on as Nebraska used a late 6-0 run to steal a 1-0 advantage.
The two teams went back and forth for much of the second and third sets, but OSU slowly pulled away in each to take a 2-1 lead. The fourth set belonged to Nebraska, however. After the teams were tied at nine, the Cornhuskers went on a 16-8 run to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
In the final set, the Buckeyes set the tone by racing out to a quick 3-0 lead, which they never gave up as they took their third win in their last four games against Nebraska. OSU upset the Cornhuskers last season in Lincoln in their only matchup.
“Someone said in the locker room, ‘Now the tables have turned and we see that anyone can win,’” senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell said after the match. “Everyone can play really well in this conference and everyone has off nights.”
The weekend started off with four-set OSU win over Iowa (25-22, 25-19, 18-25, 25-11) on Friday night.
The Buckeyes held Iowa to a .122 attack percentage as they logged a season-best 16 blocks in the victory. Seven of those blocks came from junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe and five from senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell. Junior libero Valeria León led her team with 20 digs.
“We preach that you wear your heart on your sleeve and it’s reflected in how you play defense,” Carlston said.
Campbell led all players with 17.5 points on 14 kills, three block assists and two aces. Sandbothe (15.5), Appold (12.5) and Mitchell (11) also had double-digit point efforts. Hughes continued her hot streak with 41 assists and 11 digs for her seventh double-double of the season.
Behind six kills and no errors from Campbell, OSU rolled in the first set, in which it never trailed. Campbell had five more kills in the second set, helping to lead the Buckeyes to a .400 attack percentage as they grabbed a 2-0 advantage over the Hawkeyes.
Just when it looked like OSU would run away with an easy sweep, Iowa came charging back after the intermission to force a fourth set.
The Buckeyes came out firing in the last set, picking up half of their blocks for the whole game in the deciding frame as Iowa was held to a minus-.138 attack percentage. Mitchell had four of her five total blocks in the set, at one point scoring five of six OSU points on three solo blocks and two kills.
OSU is next set to head out on the road for its first away conference games next weekend, as the Buckeyes are slated to play Northwestern on Friday and Illinois on Saturday. Both matches have a scheduled start time of 8 p.m.