The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (11-9, 4-5 Big Ten) suffered a 3-0 loss to No. 5 Minnesota (18-2, 7-2 Big Ten) Wednesday night at St. John Arena.
Although each team had nine blocks, 16 errors and 124 attacks, it was Minnesota who came out on top, buoyed by a .274 hitting percentage and 50 kills.
“We’re not there.” head coach Geoff Carlston said. “I don’t like moral victories, but I thought we did a lot of good things tonight to build on.”
Junior setter Taylor Hughes, who led her team with 24 assists, knew the Gophers would pose a strong threat especially because of Minnesota junior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, arguably the Big Ten’s top setter.
“We were expecting a very fast offense by them … that’s kind of hard to keep up with,” Hughes said. “We put up a good fight.”
The first set started off slow for the Buckeyes as the Gophers went on a 4-0 run to open the match. The Gophers built a 17-4 lead when Ohio State called a timeout. Soon thereafter the Buckeyes went on a 7-2 run, but Minnesota’s defense remained strong with four blocks and 17 digs, earning them the set, 25-15.
Senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer’s second kill tied the second set at 4-4, the first of eight ties as well as two lead changes. The Buckeyes were able to play a close set against the Gophers with 15 kills, three blocks, and 29 digs.
Senior outside hitter Ashley Wenz contributed six kills on a .455 clip for the Buckeyes, but Minnesota’s freshman middle blocker Regan Pittman helped her team with five kills and a .625 hitting percentage, leading the Gophers to win the second set 25-20.
Minnesota picked up the lead in the third set and maintained it as the Buckeyes closely trailed. Although the Buckeyes tried to catch up, the Gophers’ 20 kills and .405 hitting percentage won them the set 25-18.
Carlston credited Minnesota and recognized the Gophers’ hard plays. Although he believes the Buckeyes played well, Carlston still sees room for improvement.
“I think we really stressed them out defensively with mixing up our shots, that was important for us,” Carlston said. “But I think we need to play better defense.”
Hughes agreed with Carlston that the Buckeyes need to focus more on their defensive strategy and remaining consistent.
“A lot of games are won and lost in the serve-and-pass game and [Minnesota] served really aggressively,” Hughes said. “Upping our serve for Sunday can help us a lot. Getting most teams out of system will give us the upper hand.”
Carlston thought his team came back well in the second and third sets, but in the end the Gophers had a fire that the Buckeyes were lacking.
The Buckeyes will face Michigan for the second time this season at 1 p.m. on Sunday at St. John.