Nov. 26, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University women’s volleyball team closed out the regular season and sent off the seniors in their final home match by emerging victorious in five sets for the second straight night. Saturday was a 25-14, 21-25, 25-17, 16-25, 15-11 final ledger over the visiting Indiana Hoosiers (17-16, 6-14 Big Ten). Ohio State carries a 20-12 overall record and 10-10 conference tally into the postseason. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is set to air at 9 p.m. ET. Sunday (Nov. 27) on ESPNU.
Seniors Taylor Sandbothe and Valeria León lifted the Buckeyes in their last match at St. John Arena. Sandbothe attacked .514 to pace all players with 22 kills while León dug a match-high 17 balls to irritate the IU offensive attack. Sandbothe led OSU in blocks as well, stuffing four Hoosier attempts. Fellow senior Abby Fesl dished out 15 assists and connected on her eighth service ace in the last five matches.
Underclassmen Madison Smeathers and Taylor Hughes were also pivotal in the Buckeye win. Smeathers compiled a career-high 13 kills, crushing her previous best of eight kills. Hughes flashed her versatility once again, compiling 35 assists, 10 kills at a .529 attacking rate, seven digs, three blocks and three aces.
SET 1: Fesl’s ace finished off a 3-0 run to begin the night for Ohio State. After Indiana stormed back to even the score at 5-5, the Buckeyes rattled off six in a row and never looked back in a 25-14 whitewashing. Sandbothe terminated all six of her attack attempts and Ohio State swung .545 as a team in the lopsided opening frame.
SET 2: Sandbothe’s first three swings of the second stanza found pay dirt as well, aiding Ohio State to a 16-12 advantage and forcing a Hoosier timeout. Indiana responded well to the break in action, seizing the next four points to knot the score at 16-16. The stalemate continued at 19-19, 20-20 and 21-21 before a four-point IU spurt sent the match to intermission locked up at one set apiece.
SET 3: Fesl and Hughes evenly distributed 14 assists, seven each, in set number three — setting up the vast majority to middles Sandbothe and Smeathers. Sandbothe downed six kills hitting .444 while Smeathers dropped in five kills on seven errorless shots (.714). The Buckeyes leapt on top for good at 7-6, cruising to a 25-17 winner.
SET 4: Indiana flipped the script in the subsequent set, catapulting a five-point run at 10-9 to 15-9 and rolling 25-16 in the match equalizer.
SET 5: Hughes re-ignited the stagnant OSU offense in the final frame, connecting on three kills of her own and combining with Fesl to assist on seven of eight Buckeye kills. Steered by Fesl and Hughes, Ohio State hit .353 in the decisive period. Three different Buckeyes registered kills during a 5-1 run which broke up a 4-4 tie and gave Ohio State a 9-5 edge. Indiana would trim two points off that deficit by set’s end, but it wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes closed the door 15-11.