Friday night’s women’s volleyball match at the Covelli Center was upsetting –– but only for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Ohio State (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten) pulled off a surprising four-set (29-28, 25-20, 20-25, 26-24) win against No. 4 Wisconsin (16-5, 12-1), handing the Badgers their first conference loss of the season.
“This has been a long time coming and I am so proud of this team,” head coach Geoff Carlston said. “That’s a product of our leadership really helping this group believe in what we can do.”
The Buckeyes stuck it out point-for-point with the Badgers to come up with narrow wins in three out of four sets. Omitting a small blip in the third, the Buckeyes were able to bear down at the end of each set to come out with a win over a dominant Wisconsin team.
There was no shortage of offensive power on either side. Ohio State freshman outside hitter Gabby Gonzales racked up 14 kills, and senior middle hitter Elle Sandbothe added 12 more.
“I really took it high and hard and knew that if I got blocked, I had five people behind me that have got my back,” Gonzales said.
On the Badger side, junior outside hitter Grace Loberg and redshirt junior outside hitter Molly Haggerty both had 13 kills apiece. The Badgers out-swung the Buckeyes 60 kills to 53.
Despite the high-output performance, the Wisconsin offense is capable of much greater damage if given the chance, Carlston said. With 10 service aces, the Buckeyes exposed holes in the typically strong Badger back row.
“The biggest thing is when they pushed we responded,” Carlston said. “[Junior middle blocker Dana] Rettke ended up hitting .269, but in the third set she was hitting a season-low, I think.”
But the block was the key to Ohio State’s success, Gonzales said. Ohio State finished the fourth and final set of the match with 11 blocks.
“I thought it was the biggest piece,” Gonzales said. “Not only is it a point but it’s a huge momentum swing for our team.”
With more than 60 percent passing efficiency, the Buckeyes’ success on serve-receive set them apart from the Badgers.
After the upset victory, the Buckeyes will continue their 2019 campaign in hopes of collecting enough wins to move on to the NCAA Tournament, Carlston said.
“We don’t have a limit,” Gonzales said. “We can do whatever we feel like we can do and there is no limit to what we can do.”
The Buckeyes will take on Minnesota in the Covelli Center Sunday at noon.