Last Wednesday, it was a huge performance from junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe that guided the Ohio State women’s volleyball team to a win over Illinois.
This Wednesday, it was freshman outside hitter Audra Appold who stepped up to guide the No. 16 Buckeyes (22-7, 11-6) to a win over Iowa (12-18, 2-15) in four sets (25-14, 26-28, 25-19, 25-20).
The Hawkeyes had no answers for the native of Perrysburg, Ohio, as Appold racked up 30.5 points on 29 kills and three block assists. Her kill total was the highest of any Buckeye this season and tied Purdue senior outside hitter Annie Drews for the most in a four-set match by a Big Ten player this year.
Appold’s .489 hitting percentage was also a game-high among players who had at least 10 attempts and helped lead her team to an overall .336 clip.
It wasn’t just a solo effort for OSU, however, as Sandbothe picked up 12 kills and senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell added 11, while freshman setter Taylor Hughes had 48 assists.
On the defensive end, the Scarlet and Gray reverted back to their stingy ways, holding a team under a .200 hitting percentage for the 11th time in 17 conference matches behind 13 total blocks.
Per usual, junior libero Valeria León led OSU in digs with 18, while Sandbothe chipped in a game-high six blocks. Senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson (five blocks), Campbell (four) and Hughes (four) also made their presences known against the Hawkeye attack.
OSU shot the lights out in the first set, attacking at a .591 rate, and did not face another deficit after breaking an early 5-5 tie, rolling to an 11-point win. Campbell and Appold led the way for the Buckeyes, picking up five and four kills, respectively.
As a team, the Buckeyes cooled off considerably in the second set (.154 hitting percentage), but Appold continued to heat up, racking up 10 more kills. It wasn’t enough, however, as Iowa took an early 9-4 lead and withstood a late Buckeye comeback to win in extra points, tying the match at one.
Hughes continued to feed her fellow freshman after the intermission, as she picked up seven more kills in helping her team retake the lead. The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 10-4 advantage in the set. Iowa would close the gap to 11-10, but OSU responded with an 11-2 run to put the frame out of reach.
The offense closed things out the same way it started, overwhelming the Hawkeye defense with a .438 attack percentage behind eight more putaways from Appold. Iowa managed to keep it close until late as the teams were locked at 16, but the Buckeyes pulled away with a 9-4 run to close the match out.
The win marks OSU’s 14th straight against Iowa, a streak that dates back to 2008, and improves its overall record against the Hawkeyes to 61-9.
A date with No. 10 Wisconsin is next on the itinerary for OSU, which came out victorious in five sets in the teams’ first meeting in Columbus on Sept. 27. The match is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. in Madison, Wisconsin.