In the last home match of their Ohio State career, Olivia Sneed and Anna Sanford found the match coming down to the two of them with the Buckeyes down 3-2 to No. 12 Northwestern and no other Ohio State players left.
Both fought to tie and take the match in a third set, but Wildcats junior Lee Or closed out the match with a 6-4 win over Sneed to give Northwestern (19-4, 11-0 Big Ten) the conference title and a 4-2 victory against the Buckeyes (13-7, 7-4 Big Ten).
Sneed trailed 5-2, but won two sets in an attempt to tie the match. With Or only needing one set to take the point, Or halted Sneed’s run with a 6-4 win to secure the team victory.
Both seniors were recognized prior to the match for senior day and finished their careers with three NCAA appearances and two Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.
Sanford is ranked top 10 in program history in career singles and doubles combined victories. Sneed is top 10 in program history in singles winning percentage and finishes her career with 76 singles and 76 doubles wins as a Buckeye.
“It’s been a great four years so it was something that was bittersweet,” Sanford said. “It is fun to play on your home court but at the same time it is sad because it is our last one.”
Northwestern secured the doubles point with a 6-2 win over Ohio State, giving the team an early advantage headed into singles matches.
“They are especially confident in their doubles point. I don’t think they’ve lost one yet so that’s a pretty big point for them,” Sanford said. “They’re just great competitors so we knew we were going to have a fight today.”
In singles, the Wildcats won the first two matches to take a 3-0 lead against the Buckeyes. Ohio State redshirt freshman Shiori Fukuda gave the Buckeyes their first point with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Northwestern redshirt senior Maddie Lipp.
Ohio State freshman Mary Beth Hurley quickly followed up with 6-4, 6-2 win versus Wildcats freshman Inci Ogut, closing Northwestern’s lead to 3-2.
Sneed and Sanford felt the pressure in front of a loud crowd, but both could not hold on and the Buckeyes ultimately fell to the Wildcats in their last regular-season match.
“I think we had a lot of chances and I don’t think they ever doubted themselves,” Sneed said. “They’ve had a really good season and I think confidence comes with that and they showed a lot of confidence today.”
The Buckeyes will travel to Minneapolis to compete in the Big Ten tournament Friday.