Women’s Volleyball: No. 8 Ohio State gets second sweep of week over Maryland

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The Ohio State volleyball team celebrates after the final play during the Ohio State-Michigan game on March 19. Ohio State won 3-1. Credit: Sophie Yates | Lantern Reporter

No. 8 Ohio State women’s volleyball won 3-0 against Maryland Saturday at the Covelli Center to conclude the first week of Big Ten play at home.

The Buckeyes (12-2) defended their home court against a Maryland (13-3) team that took down then-No. 2 Wisconsin 3-2 during its Big Ten home-opener Sept. 24. Maryland opened the season 13-0, suffering its first losses against No. 9 Minnesota Sunday and No. 14 Penn State Wednesday.

“We knew they were going to come in and battle and present different challenges that we haven’t seen,” head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg said. “They are a great blocking team, so I think for us to come out and take it in three sets, that’s a good win.”

The Buckeyes took an early 8-2 lead in set one after two serving and hitting errors by Maryland. Freshman middle hitter Arica Davis and sophomore middle hitter Rylee Rader made an impact early with two kills each to force a Maryland timeout, 13-5.

Following the timeout, Maryland went on a 5-1 run to get  back within five points, 15-10. The Buckeyes were able to keep the Terrapins five points away until a stuff block by graduate student middle hitter Hannah Thompson and sophomore outside hitter Sam Csire put Maryland within two points, 19-17. A great dig by super-senior defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder gave Ohio State the momentum to close out the set, 25-21.

It was point-for-point to start the second set until the Buckeyes broke away with back-to-back kills to lead 9-5. However, Ohio State errors helped Maryland get back within one point, 11-10. Senior outside hitter Gabby Gonzales ended the Terrapins’ run as Ohio State strengthened its lead, forcing a Maryland timeout, 14-10.

After the timeout, Ohio State continued to roll with a 4-0 service run by sophomore opposite hitter Emily Londot, 19-13. Despite late kills from sophomore opposite hitter Laila Ricks, Maryland was unable to take the lead. Ohio State won the set 25-18.

The Buckeyes came out firing in set three with multiple players getting kills to force Maryland to take an early timeout, 8-2. After the break, Ohio State continued to lead with Rader recording two kills out of the middle, 12-7. Junior defensive specialist Kylie Murr would not let a ball hit the floor with multiple diving digs to force Maryland to take another timeout, 14-8.

Following the timeout, Maryland responded quickly with a powerful kill by Thompson, 14-10. However, the Buckeyes did not give up their lead and went on a 5-2 run to extend their lead, 19-12. Maryland fought off multiple match points, but the Buckeyes were able to close out the match, 25-19.

“We came into the game really wanting to play loose and free, the Buckeye way. I think we did a really good job of that,” Davis said. “We relied on each other, fed off each other’s energy, and it felt good walking into the gym and it felt good walking out.”

The Buckeyes look to continue playing loose as they fight their way through the Big Ten conference.

“It’s getting back to the basics and getting those touches and fine-tuning things so that when weird things happen, we are prepared for it,” Oldenburg said. “So, just another week of hard work.”

Ohio State will hit the road to play Michigan State at 7 p.m. Friday in East Lansing, Michigan.

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