The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (9-6, 2-2 Big Ten) returned from its road trip to Michigan empty-handed as it suffered its first two Big Ten losses of the season, losing in four sets to No. 23 Michigan (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten) and in a sweep versus No. 16 Michigan State (10-2, 3-0 Big Ten) over the weekend.
No. 23 Michigan
Michigan handed Ohio State its first conference loss in a 3-1 match (25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22) Friday night.
Both teams played a closely-contested game in the first set, but it was not long before the Wolverines picked up the lead. Although outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and middle blocker Madison Smeathers contributed four kills each, it was not enough to catch Michigan as the Wolverines took the set 25-15.
The second set did not look good for the Buckeyes as they were down 9-4. Although they were able to tie the score at 17, Michigan took the lead once again and won the set 25-20.
The Buckeyes came back strong in the third set and were finally able to get ahead of the Wolverines with a 19-15 score. Although Michigan kept it close, Ohio State won the set 25-22 on the strength of 18 kills and a .326 hitting percentage.
The fourth set started well for the Buckeyes with a 17-11 lead. After a timeout by Michigan and two tied scores, the Wolverines took the set 25-22, defeating Ohio State 3-1.
Middle blocker Lauren Witte and outside hitter Ashley Wenz put away nine and eight kills, respectively, while defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder picked up 24 digs on the night.
Setter Taylor Hughes took the eighth spot in the program’s all-time assists leaders, passing Amanda Peterson (09-12), with 43 assists in the match against Michigan and a total of 2,765 so far in her career.
No. 16 Michigan State
On the strength of 48 kills and a .396 hitting percentage, Michigan State defeated Ohio State in straight sets to hand the Buckeyes their second loss of the weekend.
The previous night’s loss seemed to affect Ohio State’s performance against Michigan State as it started off slow in the first set. The Spartans jumped out to an early 20-9 lead and eventually captured the set 25-13.
The Buckeyes tried to build momentum in the second set with 10 kills, but the Spartans hit back with 16 of their own. Michigan State outside hitter Brooke Kranda contributed six kills to the set, helping defeat the Buckeyes 25-18.
Michigan State did not give up its lead in the third set as the Buckeyes fought for the victory, but still trailed. Although Wenz pushed through with five kills, it was not enough to help the Buckeyes. The Spartans won the set 25-17.
Wenz recorded nine kills and Wenz added 22 assists for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes will have opportunities to gain back its strength against Penn State Friday at 7 p.m. and Rutgers Saturday at 8 p.m. Both matches will take place at St. John Arena.