Dec. 6, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In front of a blue-clad crowd, the #18 Ohio State women’s volleyball took out the host #13 Kentucky Wildcats (27-6) in four sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19) to advance to the Sweet 16. The Buckeyes (23-11) will face #2 Wisconsin (30-2) on Friday, Dec. 12 in Louisville, Ky., at the KFC Yum! Center.
Ohio State has now advanced to the Sweet 16 in 70 percent of its 20 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the third round for the 14th time (including three under the leadership of head coach Geoff Carlston). The Buckeyes are 31-19 (.620) in 50 NCAA Tournament contests.
Senior setter Taylor Sherwin averaged over 12 assists per set, distributing a total of 50 on the night. The OSU offense attacked at a .270 clip while the defense stymied UK with 67 digs and a dozen blocks. The Wildcat attack percentage sat at just .149 by match’s end.
Sherwin (50 assists, 12 digs) and Elizabeth Campbell (16 kills, 13 digs) each recorded double-doubles. It marked a team-high eighth for Sherwin and the fifth such performance for Campbell in her first season donning the Scarlet & Gray.
Ohio State’s success in limiting Wildcat runs was crucial. The Buckeyes posted a sideout percentage of 72 percent for the match. Kentucky’s longest consecutive points stretch maxed out at just three straight tallies.
Kentucky jumped out to 10-5 edge in the opening set and never relinquished the lead despite several threats from the Buckeyes. Ohio State clawed its way back to within a lone tally at 24-23 before a slick setter dump from UK closed the door, 25-23.
A consistent, balanced attack proved beneficial in set number two. Eight different Buckeyes put away at least one kill, including a set-high four terminations from the right arm of Campbell. A solo stuff from Taylor Sandbothe capped off the 25-18 triumph.
The Buckeyes rolled up the sleeves and got their hands dirty in the third set, grinding for 27 digs in the set. Sherwin splashed the stat sheet as well, racking up 17 assists. Six of those helpers went in the direction of Erin Sekigner and her half dozen terminations. Ohio State pulled ahead at 7-6 and remained on top the rest of the way.
The good times continued to roll in the final frame. Ohio State ripped off six straight points mid-set, stretching a 11-9 edge into a 17-9 lead. Back-to-back kills from Sherwin and Campbell moments later would serve as the finishing touches of a 25-19 clincher.
Ohio State Head Coach Geoff Carlston
Opening Statement …
“So proud of our team, Katie (Mitchell) is here because she came off the bench and helped us win that match. That is the type of team that we have been all year, winning some totally different ways. I couldn’t be prouder as a coach of the selflessness of this group. Obviously, Kentucky is a great team and great program. We knew that we would end up battling back here and getting another shot at it after two years ago – which really stuck with some of our players. We are going to be playing these guys a lot in the tournament, so for us and for our program it was a really strong match and I couldn’t be prouder of how we played tonight.”
On the adjustment he made after the first set …
“Yeah, again, it was kind of a squirrelly first set for both teams. The fact that we were even in it at the end of the first set was amazing to me. That is what I told our team, I said, `Look that was one of the worst sets that we have played all year.’ They (Kentucky) didn’t play great and it was sort of one of those sets you have to let go. Our serving got a lot better. Our serving made some adjustments in terms of making some shifts and they had some targets they were clearly going after. We had practiced that all week to be honest with you. We knew they were going to go after certain people so we did some movement and did some poaching to try to give them some different looks and I thought that made a difference. I just thought our serving overall got better and then Katie Mitchell came in and did a nice job. Luisa Schirmer did a nice job on the back row and has been doing a lot of good stuff, but was a little nervous today. Katie Mitchell is a really solid player. She started for us for most of the season. So I am really happy for her and how she played, kind of a breakout and she deserved it. So we picked up our defense and picked up our blocking, but mostly we sort of settled down and played our game and wasn’t worrying about what Kentucky was doing.”
On the team’s attacking effort …
“Kentucky is a great blocking team and when they are in and know where they are going, they are super physical, especially with us. What we were doing early on was we were trying to blast through that huge block cross court. The game plan was to work the line and try to stay away from their libero because she is exceptional. What we started to do at the end and Katie Mitchell was doing an exceptional job was challenging the line. That was a big difference because we knew they get energized by their blocking and we were doing a nice job of energizing them the first set. Those two did a nice job and Erin Sekinger got in a bit of a rhythm towards the end there because we were setting her too low. I told my setter, you cannot set her too high let her go up and absolutely throttle the ball. They were moving and shifting to 6-1 and she didn’t have enough time to go in there and get her hips around the ball and hit the ball to the line. Once we made that adjustment and established an A, that opened some things up. Erin did a great job for us because we basically said, `set her, set her, set her. A-10, A-10, A-10, which is a back set to Erin.’ She scored I think nine out of 10 swings.”
#17 Katie Mitchell, OH, Jr.
On her overall play …
“Well I mean coming off the bench, as a player we need to give a different look and change our things and not do the same things that our team has been doing. So coming in making a change and making a difference throughout the whole match, I am pretty sure they never scouted my hitting so that was a little helpful. Being able to adapt and make a difference.”
On playing a familiar Wisconsin team next …
“I think when you play in the Big Ten, you are playing against some of the best teams in the country and they have prepared us well playing against Wisconsin, Penn State, or Illinois for the tournament but we are definitely going to give them a different look, one that they haven’t seen. Might be the same players, but it’s a different game plan. We are going to attack them and remember tonight.”
#8 Taylor Sherwin, Setter, Sr.
On advancing in the NCAA Tournament …
“It is an amazing feeling. It is probably one of those feelings you can’t really describe, but I have a great group of girls around me and I couldn’t ask for more.”
On playing a familiar Wisconsin team next …
“You always make adjustments to any match you are going into. With that, we just keep building off of each weekend and building off ourselves.”
On having multiple options as a setter …
“Yeah it’s really helpful, a team with this many players that I know I can trust on the court and not just having just one person. It is nice to know when we are struggling or something I can look to every single person.”