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Dec. 12, 2014

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Ohio State women’s volleyball team went toe-to-toe with #4 Wisconsin (31-2) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, exchanging haymakers in a five-set scuffle (25-20, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-12). Ohio State caps the 2014 campaign at 23-12 overall and a third Sweet 16 trip in the last five seasons.

A gritty effort from the Buckeyes produced 93 digs with five different players reaching double figures. Valeria León dug a match-high 22 balls, followed closely by Elizabeth Campbell and her 17 digs. Campbell added 11 kills as well for her seventh double-double of the season. A stiff effort from the defensive frontcourt also played a role in limiting Wisconsin to a .130 attack percentage. Tyler Richardson got in on eight of the team’s 14 blocks.

Senior setter Taylor Sherwin continued her strong play, putting up over 11 assists per set (57 total). She fed the quartet of Campbell-Katie Mitchell-Taylor Sandbothe-Erin Sekinger to the tune of 11 or more kills on 35 or more swings apiece.

Ohio State grabbed the first two points of the match before the Badgers responded with eight of the next 10 to go ahead 8-4. The Buckeyes would battle back though and pull within a lone tally at 21-20, forcing a UW timeout. Wisconsin responded to the break in action, however, and ripped off four straight to close the door at 25-20.

Sandbothe unleashed a quick fury early on in set number two. She strung together a solo block, kill and teamed up with Sherwin for another swat ending three consecutive points as part of a six-point OSU run overall. The Buckeyes continued to pile it on and extend their lead to as many as eight points at 14-6. Wisconsin did anything but rollover, charging back and pulling even at 20-20. That’s when the script was flipped once again as Ohio State regained control and scored five of the last six tallies to knot the match at one set apiece heading into intermission. The Buckeyes drilled 19 kills at a .333 pace in the set.

Set number three was tight throughout with neither team leading by more than four points at any time. The lead exchanged hands eight times and there were 11 tied scores in the frame. Locked up at 22-22, Campbell stuffed Dominique Thompson one-on-one and followed by whacking a kill off the forehead of a Wisconsin player. Luisa Schirmer supplied the finishing touch, acing the Badgers for set point (25-22).

The road to victory didn’t get any smoother in the next set, another blow-for-blow affair that witnessed 10 tied scores and a lead exceeding no further than three points. Sekinger tried to carry the Buckeyes on her back offensively, connecting on six kills while her teammates out-dug Wisconsin 30-20. An eight-block effort from the Badgers made up for the digs differential, ultimately sending the contest into a fifth and final set (26-24).

Ohio State quickly erased a 3-1 deficit and owned an 8-7 edge as the teams swapped ends of the court. A block from Sandbothe and Richardson came next to lift OSU up 9-7. The Badgers countered by grasping six of the next seven to leap ahead for good. Sekinger fended off the first match point via her 17th kill of the match. The next point went in favor of Wisconsin, however, putting an end to a thrilling five-setter (15-12) played out in front of national audience on ESPN3.