After quickly jumping out on top of Iowa with a first-set win, Ohio State women’s volleyball maintained steady pressure and hitting consistency to come out with a crucial Big Ten win.
Ohio State (10-9, 3-4 Big Ten) hosted Iowa (7-11, 1-6) Wednesday and nabbed the win in three straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 26-24).
After a loss to Penn State on Saturday, Ohio State entered the game looking for a Big Ten win. With the goal of minimizing errors, head coach Geoff Carlston said this match was an improvement from weeks past, especially in the team’s response to tight scores in each of the sets.
“I’m really proud of the team in that we made some of our best plays after 20 points, which is the opposite of last week when we played Michigan and Michigan State, where we played really well up until 20,” Carlston said. “That was the difference today.”
Freshman outside hitter Jenaisya Moore led the Buckeyes with 16 kills out of the team’s 50, and senior middle hitter Elle Sandbothe was not far behind with 12 kills and a .526 hitting percentage.
“When you manage your game and start realizing your streaks you start realizing the shots you have and start becoming confident,” Moore said.
However, the Hawkeye offense provided a consistent challenge for the Buckeyes to defend, which kept each of the three matches close in score. Junior outside hitter Griere Hughes had 12 of Iowa’s 40 match kills. To counter, the Buckeye defense racked up 54 team digs and five blocks.
“I think sticking to the game plan and stopping their hitters honestly tightens the game because defense wins games,” Moore said.
Carlston said he hopes his team won’t always need a first-set win in order to win a match, but with a young roster this season, it does increase the likelihood of success later in the match.
Starting with a strong momentum swing is one thing, but Moore said the team emphasizes locking in and staying focused throughout the entire match.
“We kind of get squirrely at times, but momentum is such a huge thing because once you have momentum you just keep building off of that,” Moore said. “When it was 23-all, 24-all, staying locked in and having that momentum helps us push through those crunch-time moments.”
Carlston said he is proud of the team for pulling it out against a top 50 opponent.
“If you win, things feel great and the sun’s out and there’s rainbows,” Carlston said. “If you lose, it’s like, ‘How the heck did I get to my driveway?’ Because you’re just grinding in your head on how you could have done better. Yeah, it’s a big win against a good team.”
In addition, Carlston said it is important to win at home, and is looking forward to adding to the win column as the next two matches take place in Columbus.
The Buckeyes will be back in the Covelli Center on Saturday to face Purdue at 7 p.m.