The No. 25 Ohio State women’s volleyball (7-4) hosted the Buckeye Invitational this weekend, losing on Friday to Western Kentucky, 3-0, at St. John Arena before bouncing back that night with a win against Northern Illinois, 3-1, and another victory the next day versus Dayton at the Capital Center in Bexley.
Ohio State returned to St. John Arena Friday to play its first game of the weekend against Western Kentucky, who picked up an early lead in the first set.
Middle blocker Madison Smeathers contributed five of her team’s 13 kills, but the Hilltoppers took the first set 25-17.
The Buckeyes began the second set with with four matched points, but could not hold on to the lead as Western Kentucky pulled ahead to take the second set, 25-20.
Setter Taylor Hughes and outside hitter Ashley Wenz each tallied four kills in the third set, but WKU won 25-16, defeating Ohio State in a 3-0 sweep.
Despite the loss, outside hitter Ayanna Swan was responsible for eight kills in the first start of her career. Alongside Swan, Smeathers assisted her team with 10 kills.
“Western Kentucky is a great team and you’ve got to give them credit for coming out with a bang,” outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said.
The Buckeyes returned to St. John Arena Friday night to play their second match of the day, this time taking on Northern Illinois.
Ohio State battled back-and-forth with the Huskies early in the first set with three early ties and two lead changes, but the Buckeyes quickly found their tempo.
Swan carried her momentum from the previous match into this one, recording seven kills in the first set, leading the Buckeyes to their first victory of the day, taking the set 25-19.
The Huskies started the second set strong, but the Buckeyes were able to match the Huskies’ high energy with 13 kills and 19 digs. Ohio State took the second set 25-21.
The Huskies picked up the lead in the third set and the Buckeyes trailed with only one tied score. The Buckeyes did not find their momentum fast enough to catch up to the Huskies, as Northern Illinois’ middle blocker Chrystal McAlpin contributed four kills to the set. The Huskies had a total of four blocks against Ohio State.
Northern Illinois took the third set 25-22, sending the match to its fourth set.
The Buckeyes took the lead to begin the fourth set and never looked back. Middle blocker Lauren Witte was responsible for five kills, with a total of 17 for the Buckeyes.
With a .394 hitting percentage, 13 digs and four blocks, Ohio State took the set 25-18, beating the Huskies 3-1.
The Buckeyes’ final game of the weekend seemed the most intense as both Ohio State and Dayton fans enthusiastically cheered each team on at Capital Center in Bexley, Saturday afternoon.
With a win and a loss under their belts, the Buckeyes played an energetic first set against the Flyers. Both teams played a close game, but with 23 digs and 18 kills, Ohio State took the set 25-22.
The Buckeyes picked up the pace in the second set, leaving the Flyers behind them with a 17-10 score by the middle of the set.
Although the Flyers tried to catch up, the Buckeyes took the second set 25-18. Despite the loss, Dayton saw a strong performance from its outside hitter Lauren Bruns who tallied six kills with a .385 hitting percentage.
Tensions rose in the third set as both teams battled back-and-forth for the win in a match filled with 12 tied scores and nine lead changes. The Buckeyes were able to pull through 25-21, sweeping the Flyers in a 3-0 match.
Outside hitters Ayanna Swan and Luisa Schirmer contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively, to the match against Dayton, both earning spots on the Buckeye Invitational All-Tournament team.
Schirmer said she believes her success is a product of team effort the Buckeyes supplied her with this weekend.
“Taylor is a great setter and she puts us in really great situations so I can’t thank her enough for all she does for the team,” Schirmer said. “Our passers stick their necks out to make really good passes … I wouldn’t have been able to do that without them.”
Coach Geoff Carlston said he was proud of the two players for their accomplishments this weekend as well as the entire team.
“We’ve had a lot of people contribute to what we’re doing, and we’re going to need that going forward,” Carlston said.
Although the Buckeyes lost their first match of the Buckeye Invitational, Carlston said Ohio State’s non-conference schedule is the fifth-toughest in the country and was built to help challenge the team.
“We’ve had some adversity, but I think in the end it’s going to bode well,” Carlston said. “It’s built some calluses, a little bit of toughness and all that resiliency.”
The Buckeyes will head back to St. John Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to face Maryland in their first conference game.