Nov. 11, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 14th-ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State (21-6, 10-5 B1G) arose victorious in another Top-25 tilt inside St. John Arena, sending away No. 16 Illinois (17-9, 8-7 B1G) in four sets (16-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-23). Ohio State returns to the court Saturday at 7 p.m., hosting the Michigan Wolverines in a pivotal conference clash.
Taylor Sandbothe was a terror throughout, racking up 19 kills and a career-high 11 blocks. The rejection total is sixth highest by a Buckeye in school history and the third-best mark against a conference foe. The last Buckeye to reach 11 blocks in a match was Mariah Booth back in 2010 against Kennesaw State. Sandbothe inflicted a great deal of damage offensively as well, attacking .417 en route to her 19 kills. Fellow middle blocker, Tyler Richardson, accompanied Sandbothe with seven kills and a lone error on nine attempts (.667).
Elizabeth Campbell was also an offensive force, terminating 16 kills on the night. She added 13 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Valeria León averaged nearly five digs a set, accumulating 19 as the team’s libero. Taylor Hughes’ 47 assists in her return to action matched the entire team total for Illinois.
Illinois burst out of the gates and assumed a 9-1 lead in the opening frame. The two teams essentially split points from there and the Fighting Illini nabbed the early advantage at 25-16.
The Taylor Sandbothe Show really got going in set number two, highlighted by seven kills and four blocks from the Missouri native. She produced back-to-back kills immediately followed by a solo stuff mid-set to jumpstart a five-point run which stretched the Buckeye lead to 17-9. Ohio State limited the Illini offense to a .000 hitting percentage and wrapped up the set 25-17 winners to even the match heading into intermission.
Ohio State never trailed in the third frame when Sandbothe’s herculean effort was flanked by several additional impressive individual performances. Hitting on all cylinders, the Buckeyes swung .415 and bounced 19 kills. Meanwhile, León and Audra Appold combined for 15 digs on the defensive side of the net as OSU rolled to a 25-18 victory.
The match had a fifth set written all over it midway through the fourth with Illinois on top 15-10. Ohio State refused to concede, however, battling back to earn the lead at 20-19 on a León ace and forcing an Illini timeout. The subsequent pair of tallies went in favor UI though, turning the tables and causing the Buckeyes to call for a break in action. Ohio State responded favorably to the their timeout, too, corralling five of the next seven points to close the door 25-23. Kylie Randall headed the final push, putting away three kills on four errorless swings in the set.
St. John Arena re-opens its doors Saturday evening, playing host to the Michigan Wolverines for a 7 p.m. showdown.