The No. 6 Ohio State women’s volleyball team lost 3-1 to the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, after being dominated at the net and out-played on the pins.
The Badgers (16-1) are second in the Big Ten standings with their only loss coming from Maryland in five sets Sept. 24. The Buckeyes (16-3) came into the match 37-43 in the all-time series with the Badgers . The teams did not meet during the 2021 spring season, with the most recent match belonging to Ohio State in a 3-1 win at the Covelli Center Nov. 8, 2019.
It was a battle of the middles to start set one with Ohio State middle hitters freshman Arica Davis and sophomore Rylee Rader registering two kills each, while graduate middle blocker Dana Rettke had two kills of her own for Wisconsin to tie the match at five-all. The Badgers got the first lead of the set after back-to-back kills by freshman outside hitter Julia Orzol for an 11-8 lead.
However, back-to-back tradition kills and an ace by junior outside hitter Gabby Gonzales put Ohio State up 15-14 at the media timeout. Following the break, the Badgers could not pick up the Buckeyes’ tip shots, which kept Ohio State in the set. A missed serve by Wisconsin had the set tied at 24-all, but an overpass kill by graduate setter Sydney Hilley finished set one, 26-24.
Junior outside hitter Jenaisya Moore had Wisconsin out of system with strong serving to start set two, helping the Buckeyes go on a 4-0 run to force an early Wisconsin timeout, 9-4. After the break, the Buckeyes widened their lead with back-to-back kills by Davis to go up 14-7.
However, Wisconsin responded with a 5-0 serving run by graduate defensive specialist Lauren Barnes to get back within one point and force an Ohio State timeout, 14-13. The set was a back-and-forth battle until Orzol got back-to-back kills to put Wisconsin up two points, 21-19. The Buckeyes were able to tie the match up at 22-all, but Wisconsin scored the last three points to win the second set 25-22.
Ohio State had a quick 3-0 lead in set three from a block by Rader and Moore to help the Buckeyes’ front-row defensive performance after getting out-blocked 11-1 in the first two sets. A serving run by senior defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder, helped Moore find her offensive groove with three consecutive kills to force a Badgers timeout, 9-3.
After the timeout, Wisconsin fought back with tough serving by Orzol to go on a 4-0 serving run, but a solo block by Davis forced another Badgers timeout at 18-13. Led by Moore’s dominant offensive performance, Ohio State continued to roll following the break, and closed out the third set 25-18.
Wisconsin capitalized on Ohio State’s sloppy play in set four to take an early 8-3 lead and force an Ohio State timeout. After the break, Ohio State could not get past the Badgers’ block and continued to get out-blocked 17-4.
The Badgers’ scrappy defensive play and their pin hitters’ sharp cross-court shots gave Wisconsin a convincing lead and forced another Ohio State timeout, 23-14. The Buckeyes lost the match in back-to-back hitting errors with Wisconsin winning the fourth set, 25-14.
Ohio State will next take on No. 12 Minnesota at 5 p.m. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU.