Ohio State women’s volleyball got what it aimed for in the Buckeye Invite this weekend: a 3-0 outcome.
After coming out on top against Miami (Ohio) Thursday night, the Buckeyes (7-5) continued the streak with a pair of wins against Illinois State (7-4) and Dayton (6-6).
“We definitely flipped a switch,” sophomore outside hitter Mia Grunze said. “I definitely think this weekend was totally different from our previous weekends. I think we got it figured out and felt the vibe for sure.”
Even a mid-set delay in the second set couldn’t stop the Buckeyes from besting Illinois State in three sets (25-21, 25-18, 27-25).
After a slow start, Ohio State pulled out quick first and second set wins and finished with a tight win in the third.
“To play that steady against a team that good, I’m really proud of the team,” head coach Geoff Carlston said. “They’re a top 25 team and they were coming in hot and to play that well against them was awesome.”
The third set took a slightly different tone as the Buckeyes battled from behind for most of the set. While Ohio State outside hitters Mia Grunze and sophomore Adria Powell brought in a combined 23 kills, Illinois State freshman outside hitter Sarah Kushner countered with 10 of the team’s 32 total kills.
The Buckeyes pulled out a two-point after coming back from a 19-24 deficit.
“We were just saying, ‘We got this,’” Powell said. “I feel like we had all the momentum, we were down but we were still fighting. So in my mind, I knew my teammates got me.’”
Resiliency was imperative for the third set win, but Carlston said the team’s early success came from winning the serving battle and limiting errors.
After a first set loss, the Buckeyes came back to beat Dayton in four sets (24-26, 25-16, 25-20, 25-23).
Dayton get the edge in a point-for-point first set, but Ohio State quickly stifled the threat and coasted to second and third set wins.
“We made sure our energy was high, our vibe was really good in the huddle,” Grunze said. We just did our best to clean up the errors and stay disciplined.”
Ohio State dominated at the net throughout all four sets. Sophomore opposite side hitter Vanja Bukilic recorded 19 match kills and Grunze added 11 to the team’s 60 total.
“As soon as Vanja, Mia or Elle [senior middle blocker Elle Sandbothe] or someone gets a great kill it’s just wild,” freshman libero Kylie Murr said. “I get chills all up my body because the crowd is just so intense.”
The Buckeye offense was assisted with a tight defensive performance. Working off their earlier Friday win, Ohio State continued to prioritize serve-receive and provided strong digs to fuel the offense.
“We knew coming in that they were going to be a great serving team,” Murr said. “We knew it was going to be next level, Big Ten-like serving, so we knew if we could nail it now then we can do it in the future in the Big Ten.” Murr said.
Murr contributed 21 of Ohio State’s 65 digs, which were coupled with nine team blocks across four sets –– five in the second set alone.
Murr’s performance aided the Buckeyes in suppressing Dayton redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jamie Peterson, who contributed 14 kills, and graduate student middle hitter Rachael Fara, who added 11.
“The last two games we were down in all the sets and we came back and fought,” Murr said. “I think that’s a great thing that we can take into the Big Ten.”
Ohio State will kick off conference play at Maryland on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. start time.