In a low-offense night, the Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on home-court energy and lost another at the Covelli Center Friday.
Ohio State (14-15, 7-10 Big Ten) dropped three straight sets (25-16, 25-21, 25-27) to Northwestern (12-17, 3-14), leaving three games for the Buckeyes to achieve their goal of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
“We just didn’t play well tonight and I don’t know why exactly,” head coach Geoff Carlston said.
Little offensive power was shown on either side, but the Wildcats racked up 12.5 total match blocks, and errors were an issue for the Buckeyes.
Throughout the first two sets and most of the third, the Buckeyes had more kills and total attacks than Northwestern, but errors contributed to dropped sets.
“We always talk about making them earn the points and I think a lot of times we were giving them the points,” junior setter Becca Mauer said. “That can really change the dynamic of the game.”
Despite the errors, senior middle hitter Madison Smeathers racked up 13 kills throughout the match with a .407 kill efficiency.
On the Northwestern side, freshman outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara totaled 12 kills and five blocks, and junior outside hitter Nia Robinson collected 11 kills.
The Buckeyes put up a fight at the end of the second and into the third set, but all Ohio State runs were snuffed out.
“We just weren’t able to sustain anything,” Carlston said. “They won the serve-passing game and that’s the area that we thought we should win.”
Carlston said there wasn’t anything specific that the Buckeyes were lacking, but an overall lack of energy in the match.
“There was nothing skill-wise, we just didn’t play with a lot of grit,” Carlston said. “While Northwestern, that’s the best they’ve played all year, and we didn’t respond. Credit to Northwestern, they played a great match.
Despite the loss, Mauer said she doesn’t feel like the season is lost.
Ohio State will play its last home game of the season Sunday at 1 p.m. and take on No. 25 Illinois.