In front of a season-high 4,248 home fans, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team came up well short against rival Michigan on Saturday night.
Aside from the second set, the match wasn’t all that close as the Wolverines (17-10, 7-9) broke their four-game losing streak by rolling over the No. 14 Buckeyes (21-7, 10-6) in straight sets (25-15, 31-29, 25-16).
“It was great having everyone come out and support us. I think we just came out a little unfocused,” senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson said.
OSU’s offense struggled mightily, as it put up a .104 attack percentage in the loss and was out-killed by Michigan 52-34.
Richardson said there were several areas the Buckeyes need to work on to improve their attack.
“Just the little things, you know, leadership, staying in the moment, just focusing on getting that pass, getting that set,” she said. “Those are all things we can work on this week during practice.”
The Wolverines had 10 blocks in the match — including seven from sophomore middle blocker Claire Kieffer-Wright — and got 30 digs from their combo of defensive specialist siblings, senior Lindsey Lerg (16) and freshman Jenna Lerg (14).
Things didn’t go much better for OSU on the defensive end, as Michigan attacked at a .328 clip and out-dug the Buckeyes 56-44.
The Buckeyes were overmatched in the opening frame as they registered only seven kills and a minus-.029 attack percentage. Michigan started the match on a tear, racing out to a 6-1 lead to force an OSU timeout before most of the fans had even found their seats in St. John Arena. The Wolverines never looked back, taking an early advantage en route to a 10-point blowout.
After gathering itself, OSU played much better in the second frame. Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell, who led OSU with 12 points in the match, picked up nine of those in the second set on seven kills, two blocks and one service ace as she tried to get her team back in it.
In what turned to be an absolute marathon between the rivals, the set featured 22 ties and 10 lead changes as neither team led by more than two at any point.
It ultimately took extra points to decide the battle. The Buckeyes took three separate leads as they tried to get the necessary two-point advantage, but the Wolverines just wouldn’t go away and took a 2-0 lead into the intermission with a 31-29 win.
“It was really frustrating,” Richardson said of dropping the fiercely battled set.
Michigan used the momentum of its extra-point victory to take another decisive win in the final set. The visitors never trailed, as the Buckeyes were again held to a dismal attack percentage (.061), while the visitors hit at a proficient .353 rate.
OSU will attempt to get back on track on Wednesday when it is scheduled to take on Iowa at 8 p.m. to begin a stretch of three straight road games. In the teams’ first matchup in St. John Arena on Oct. 2, the Buckeyes came away victorious in four sets.