In a five-set battle against No. 3 Minnesota, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team fought relentlessly and eventually fell 3-2 in a closer battle than the Gophers have faced all season.
Minnesota (24-2) is the only undefeated team in the Big Ten with a 18-0 record, 12 of which were sweeps with only one other at 3-2.
Despite the loss, Ohio State head coach Geoff Carlston focused on the long-term team.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Patience is understanding that you’re not always going to get what you want when you want it,’” Carlston said. “There’s people in our locker room right now that are going to win national championships because of nights like tonight.”
In the first set, Minnesota cruised to a 6-1 lead before an Ohio State timeout. Junior outside hitter Ana Beatriz Franklin had six consecutive serves and took the Buckeyes to a 7-6 lead.
The Buckeyes (12-18, 3-15 Big Ten) won multiple points due to dropped balls by the Gophers. Ohio State led throughout the majority of the first set and held its ground against top-ranked Minnesota hitters.
Ohio State senior setter Olivia Daily had 53 assists.
“Liv kept us aggressive which we needed,” Carlston said. “We knew we needed to set the ball with some tempo to stress them out and she did a great job with that.”
The Gophers ranked No. 2 nationally in kills per set (15.08), and No. 3 in hitting percentage (.301) coming into the matchup.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Regan Pittman led Minnesota with 20 kills and sophomore outside hitter Stephanie Samedy followed with 17.
The Gophers tied the score at 19, but the Buckeyes fought back to win the match 25-23.
Ohio State’s defense kept the team secure. Junior defensive specialist Camry Halm had 32 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder had 14.
The Buckeyes kept the score close in the second set, but the Gophers took the win 25-20.
The Gophers held a lead for the majority of the third set and took a 25-13 win.
The Bucks carried a lead on-and-off throughout the fourth set. Ohio State called a timeout at a 21-19 Buckeye lead. The Buckeyes came out on top 25-23 to head into the battle of the fifth set.
Ohio State held on strong but a kill by Pittman ended the set in favor of Minnesota 15-11.
“You never want moral victories but with this group working as hard as they have it was fun to see them battle tonight,” Carlston said. “Especially the last match in this building it was pretty emotional.”
This match marked the end of an era at St. John Arena, as the team will be playing in the Covelli Center starting next season.
“There’s just something special about St. John Arena,” Franklin said. “Today was one of those days where the crowd was really into it and it was just another special day that we were lucky to play here.”
The Buckeyes will finish their season on the road with their last two matches against Nebraska and Iowa next weekend.