After an upset victory Friday, Ohio State failed to carry that momentum into its Sunday match against Minnesota.
In this second attempt to beat the Gophers, Ohio State (13-13, 6-8 Big Ten) lost steam midway through the first set and dropped three straight (23-25, 20-25, 24-26) to No. 6 Minnesota (19-3, 13-2).
“I think we let them manipulate that game. I don’t think we pushed back at them at all,” freshman libero Kylie Murr said.
Fueled by the Wisconsin win, the Buckeye offense was aggressive early and garnered a lead in the first set. Freshman outside hitters Gabby Gonzales and Jenaisya Moore led the team from the pin with 13 kills apiece.
Though the outside offensive power remained consistent, the error rate increased and Ohio State’s momentum faded. Moore said the trouble for the Buckeyes came when they allowed Minnesota to go on long, unanswered runs .
“We started losing it when we were up and we kept letting them come back in,” Moore said. “You can’t come back five points. You can, but it’s really hard in this conference, and so we just didn’t really capitalize on keeping the lead.”
Minnesota and Ohio State were evenly matched in number of kills, but the Gophers outpaced the Buckeyes in hitting efficiency with a team percentage of .233. Outside hitters sophomore Adanna Rollins and junior Airi Myabe led Minnesota with 11 kills apiece. Myabe had a .450 hitting efficiency.
“Their outsides were on, they were like next level,” Murr said. “We couldn’t stop them at the net so we knew we had to defend behind them and I think we got them some but we just couldn’t stop them to win the game.”
Murr collected 22 digs for the team, but the Buckeyes’ passing percentage was low compared to the Badger’s 61.8 percent efficiency. In addition, the Buckeye block that was so strong against the Wisconsin hitters struggled to show up against Minnesota.
“Friday night our block was blocking balls left and right and today that kind of fell apart,” Murr said. “I think we got in our heads.”
Moore said Minnesota came out with a different game plan than in the previous matchup Oct. 30 and took an aggressive approach to the Buckeyes.
“You could tell they wanted it more,” Moore said. “I think we’re the better team. I just don’t think we believed it.”
The Buckeyes have two home matches left, and Murr said they need to come into every match knowing no one will be taking it easy on them.
“Not so much learning from that game but the one before, knowing that we have the capability of beating everybody we need to use that,” Murr said. “People aren’t going to give it to us anymore now that we beat Wisconsin.”
Ohio State will be back on the road this week to play Purdue Friday at 7 p.m.