After beating Iowa in convincing fashion on Wednesday, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team was hoping to build some momentum and end Wisconsin’s nine-match winning streak.
But the No. 16 Buckeyes (22-8, 11-7) were unable to complete the season sweep and stop the red-hot No. 10 Badgers (22-6, 14-4) on Sunday afternoon, falling in straight sets (25-21, 25-16, 25-21).
Despite three blocks from junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe and a game-high 16 digs from junior libero Valeria León, OSU simply couldn’t slow down Wisconsin until it was too late. The Badgers attacked at a .321 percentage and blocked 11 shots in their victory.
Wisconsin junior middle blocker Haleigh Nelson proved difficult to contain, as she notched 12 kills on a .579 hitting percentage, while blocking six shots to lead all players with 17 points.
OSU also had a tough time dealing with All-American junior setter Lauren Carlini, who picked up a double-double with 38 assists and 10 digs.
Despite solid performances from Sandbothe (nine kills, .364 attack percentage) and senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson (eight kills, .533), the Buckeyes’ offense struggled as a whole, hitting at a lowly .205 rate for the match.
After picking up a career-best 29 kills on Wednesday against Iowa, freshman outside hitter Audra Appold built of that success early on, as she had five kills give OSU a quick 11-8 lead in the first set. But Wisconsin made adjustments and locked down Appold and the Buckeyes for the remainder of the set, battling back to take the lead and pull away late in the set.
It was another outside hitter, senior Elizabeth Campbell, who got hot in the second set, picking up seven of her nine kills for the match. The teams were locked in a back-and-forth affair for the first half of the second set, finding themselves tied up at 13. However, the Badgers flipped the switch at that point, going on a 12-3 run to close out the set and put the Buckeyes in a hole that proved to be insurmountable.
The third frame turned into a defensive battle, as both teams hit .139 and blocked five shots. As such, it proved to be the tightest set of the match as OSU fought to force a fourth set. But with the score tied at 20, Wisconsin went on another run, closing the match out on a 5-1 tear.
Things are not likely to get any easier for the Buckeyes when they return to the court on Nov. 25. They are set to play their final road regular-season game against No. 3 Minnesota.
OSU lost its first matchup with the Golden Gophers in five sets to open up Big Ten play. First serve is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Minneapolis.