No. 24 Ohio State (5-3) played two matches against Notre Dame this weekend, one at St. John Arena Friday night, then in South Bend, Indiana, on Sunday. Although the Buckeyes beat the Fighting Irish, 3-0, at home, they were not as successful in Notre Dame territory as they dropped the match, 3-1.
During Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame, freshman libero Hannah Gruensfelder set an Ohio State record for most digs in a four-set match with 38.
In winning the first game of the two-match series, which was scheduled because of the cancellation of the Coastal Carolina Classic due to Hurricane Irma, Ohio State handed Notre Dame its first loss of the season, ending the Fighting Irish’s 6-0 winning streak.
“Notre Dame, they’re undefeated for a reason. They’re a very good team.” Carlston said.
Ohio State started off its first set Friday evening strong and was able to maintain the lead through most of the set. Its defensive line proved successful in the first set with four blocks and 24 digs.
The Buckeyes established their rhythm quickly and won the first set 25-20.
The second set was no different for the Buckeyes as they took the lead early once again.
Outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and setter Taylor Hughes contributed four kills each, adding to their team’s total of 18 kills and leading Ohio State to a 25-21 victory.
The Fighting Irish matched the Buckeyes point for point early in the third set, even taking the lead a 6-4 lead at one point. They stayed neck and neck with the Buckeyes all match long.
As tensions rose, Ohio State called a timeout with the scored tied at 23. The Buckeyes were able to pick up the pace and win the set 25-23 with two final kills by Hughes and middle blocker Lauren Witte.
Although the Buckeyes won the match 3-0, coach Geoff Carlston thought neither team played as well as they could have.
“I have a feeling there are going to be some adjustments by both of us since we play them on Sunday, “ Carlston said. “I would say that was an ugly win, but a win over a really good team.”
Outside hitter Ashley Wenz also thought the Buckeyes could have played a stronger game against Notre Dame.
“I think that we have a lot that we can work on,” Wenz said. “[We could work on] having better eyes on defense, being able to kind of read the hitters a lot better and play balls that should be easier than they were tonight.”
Coming off the 3-0 sweep of the Notre Dame Friday, the Buckeyes said they expected the Fighting Irish to be more difficult to put away in their match Sunday.
“Both teams will play harder, it’ll be a lot closer,” Wenz said. “I definitely think they’re going to try and play against our strengths and we’re going to try to do the same.”
After a full day of preparation, the Buckeyes traveled to Indiana Sunday for their second match against Notre Dame.
Ohio State was able to lead for most of the first set, but Notre Dame came back to take the lead near the end of the set, winning 25-22.
The Buckeyes picked up the pace in the second set and played a close game throughout most of the set. Wenz was responsible for nine kills of the set, leading the Buckeyes to a 25-21 victory.
Ohio State proceeded to drop its final two sets in convincing fashion, losing the third set 25-14 and dropping the fourth and final set 25-17 to close out the game. Although Ohio State racked up 61 kills and 109 digs, its .141 hitting percentage paled in comparison to the Fighting Irish’s .244 hitting percentage.
The Buckeyes will be back at St. John Arena Friday to begin the Buckeye Invitational. They host Western Kentucky at noon and Northern Illinois at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, they will go against Dayton at Capital Center in Bexley, Ohio.