Oct. 8, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the second consecutive match, Ohio State Women’s Volleyball shielded away multiple fifth-set match points and rallied for a 16-14 victory over a top-15 opponent. The Buckeyes trailed No. 15 Illinois 14-10 in the fifth set before storming back with six points in a row and improving to 12-5 overall, 3-2 in Big Ten play (25-14, 22-25, 25-14, 27-29, 16-14). The Fighting Illini drop to 11-5, 3-2 after an unwelcoming visit to St. John Arena.
Senior setter Taylor Sherwin conducted a high-octane offense to an attacking percentage over .300 in four of five sets, including a .462 clip in the opening set. The reigning Big Ten Setter of the Week began her title defense by racking up 55 assists while also pacing the team with 16 digs on the defensive side. Sherwin chipped in three kills and two blocks as well. She was one of four Buckeyes to notch double-digit dig totals, joined by Valeria León (12), Elizabeth Campbell (11) and Alyssa Winner (10).
Taylor Sandbothe served as Sherwin’s most explosive offensive weapon. The sophomore middle blocker bounced 14 kills on 21 swings committing just three errors for a .525 attacking efficiency. She added four rejections (2s, 2a) and three digs to her stat line. Erin Sekinger (15), Katie Mitchell (15) and Elizabeth Campbell (14) connected on 14 or more kills, too. Tyler Richardson played a large role in Ohio State out-blocking Illinois, 10-9, getting in on six block assists individually.
Kills from Campbell and Sekinger gave Ohio State the first two points of the night and the Buckeyes never looked back in leading the entire way of a 25-14 first set win. Sekinger buried five kills in the frame and Sherwin dished out 14 assists as OSU hit a blistering .462 (16-4-26).
Despite the Buckeye offense staying hot in set number two, it was Illinois coming out on top 25-22. The lead exchanged hands four times, including a final swap when back-to-back kills from Morganne Criswell turned an 18-17 deficit into a 19-18 lasting edge for Illinois.
Ohio State got back to business in the third set, punching the replay button to the tune of another 25-14 winner. Mitchell went berserk, smoking seven kills to match Illinois’ team total for the set. The Buckeyes dug 20 balls to limit the opposition to a putrid .029 hitting percentage.
It was then back to nail biting and sprouting of gray hairs in the fourth frame as the conference adversaries exchanged blows in a back-and-forth dramatic affair. The Buckeyes climbed out of a 22-18 hole and evened the tally late at 24-24. That was the start of eight alternating points in a row to extend the set into an eventual 29-27 final score. The Fighting Illini were finally able to close out Ohio State on their sixth set point opportunity.
Illinois kept it rolling into the fifth and final set, building advantages of 3-0 and 8-4 as the teams swapped ends of the floor. Their four-point edge remained at 14-10 with four set points in their quiver. Sandbothe was the first to deny defeat, however, obliterating her 14th kill of the night to keep Ohio State alive. Kills from Campbell and Sherwin further resuscitated the Buckeye comeback. Jocelynn Birks then sent an attack long and OSU freshman Luisa Schirmer stepped up with a huge strike to push the Bucks on top. Campbell, named the ESPNW National Player of the Week earlier in the day, toed the service line next and delivered a net-clipping ace which lightly rolled over the tape and fell to the Illini side of the net for a match-clinching ace.
The Scarlet and Gray are back at inside St. John Arena Saturday night at 6:30 pm. Ohio State will take on its third consecutive top-25 foe in No. 24 Northwestern, broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.