As 4,583 fans gathered in St. John Arena Sunday afternoon, both Ohio State and Michigan felt eyes on them as the two rivals clashed for the second time this season.
The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (11-10, 4-6 Big Ten) was unable to enact its revenge on Michigan (14-8, 4-6 Big Ten) for the Wolverines’ win earlier this season, again losing the match 3-1.
“I think that the effort was there on our part, but I don’t think that we had necessarily the right attitude or energy level,” freshman defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder said.
The Buckeyes put together their strongest performance in the third set when they avoided the three-set sweep. With seven ties, six lead changes and consecutive kills by setter Taylor Hughes and outside hitters Bia Franklin and Ashley Wenz, the Buckeyes came back from a 24-21 deficit to tie the Wolverines 24-24 after trailing the entire set. Ohio State completed the comeback and won the set 28-26.
The Buckeyes took a 22-20 lead in the second set with a 7-0 run, forcing the Wolverines to call a timeout. But Ohio State was unable to continue its momentum as Michigan quickly regained the lead and won the set 25-22.
The first set went back-and-forth with 15 ties and four lead changes. The see-saw set did not tilt in the Buckeyes’ favor in the end, however, despite 12 digs, 10 assists and three blocks, as Michigan’s junior outside hitter Carly Skjodt notched two consecutive kills to secure the opening set for the Wolverines 25-23.
Twelve blocks from Ohio State’s defensive line proved insufficient in the fourth set as the Buckeyes quickly found themselves trailing in the set. After calling a timeout down 20-15, the Buckeyes proceeded to lose the set 25-19 and the match 3-1.
Senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer thought the Buckeyes were aggressive, but the Wolverines played harder.
“Michigan is a great team and I think they attacked us really well and stressed us out on our serving,” Schirmer said. “Like we always say in the Big Ten, today maybe wasn’t our day and we come back and reevaluate and come out for the next game.”
Gruensfelder said her team could have pushed harder and played with more energy playing at home in front of such a large crowd.
“[The Wolverines] were hitting pretty hard and they were definitely bringing their A-game,” Gruensfelder said. “We were all just kind of complacent with what was going on at the time, but we needed to do more. Just having that drive throughout the entire game is something that we can really work on.”
Moving forward, Schirmer and Gruensfelder believe the key to finding more success will come down to improving shot selection when in bad situations while also creating new opportunities for themselves.
“I think, in a sense, extending rallies when the ball isn’t in a great spot and letting the other team make the error and kind of play extenders at a point until we get the good set to make the kill,” Schirmer said. “I’d say that’s definitely something we’re working on in the gym.”
Ohio State will play Purdue at 7 p.m. Friday and Indiana at 8 p.m. Saturday. Both games will take place at St. John Arena.