In a match consisting of both teams exchanging points back and forth in short rallies, Ohio State (12-13, 3-10 Big Ten) was unable to knock off the No. 4 Illinois (21-3, 10-3 Big Ten), losing in four sets. The Fighting Illini have now defeated the Buckeyes four straight times.
“I thought today we did some good things,” Ohio State head coach Geoff Carltson said. “I really like what we did today in terms of our energy and we played some good defense. They’re a Final Four team, and aside from the third set, I thought we played pretty good volleyball, they just played better at the right moments.”
The first set saw teams trade points back and forth, before Illinois grabbed a 14-10 lead, prompting Carlston to call a timeout. Ohio State fought back at 17-14, but the Illini pulled away late, going on a 5-0 scoring run and taking the opening set.
“It’s late in the season but we are growing. I think we come off strong. We work together. We’re gonna keep building on it,” junior outside hitter Ana Beatriz Franklin said. “It wasn’t the outcome we were looking for, but there’s a lot to grow.”
In the second set, after a really nice block from Illini senior setter Jordyn Poulter, Ohio State pulled away late, tying the game 1-1 with a 25-18 victory.
Franklin played one of her best games this season, tallying ten kills in 31 attempts, and also nodded seven digs.
“We are going to look on video tomorrow and try to work to Sunday,” Franklin said. “We aren’t looking back, just looking forward and trying to improve. We can be better about building on our game plan.”
After Ohio State fought back after Illinois took a 4-0 lead early in the third set, Illinois went on a rally, extending its set lead to 16-8, running away with it late, winning the set 25-11.
Illinois sophomore defensive specialist Morgan O’Brien added nine digs to her team-leading 37 digs against the Buckeyes on Friday
After getting as close as 13-10 in the fourth set, Illinois secured the win, winning the fourth set 25-19.
Carlston said he felt Ohio State’s offensive and defensive effort, especially in the third and fourth set, was good.
“I was really proud with how we played tonight actually,” Carlston said “I thought our effort was good, we just didn’t pass the ball well, so we were kind of just playing from behind the eight ball the whole time. Overall, that’s what we’re trying to find is consistency.”
Ohio State will try and end its five-game losing streak Sunday, facing Northwestern at home at 1 p.m.