Women’s Volleyball: No. 9 Ohio State advances to Sweet 16 after 3-1 win over Tennessee

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The Ohio State Women’s Volleyball team stands together to sing Carmen Ohio after the Ohio State-Purdue game Oct. 15. Ohio State won 3-1. Credit: Justin Volley | For The Lantern

The No. 9 Ohio State women’s volleyball team won 3-1 over Tennessee in their second round match of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16 Saturday.

Tennessee (20-10) won 3-1 over North Carolina to advance to the second round. Ohio State (27-5) won 3-0 over Howard Friday to advance and host the second round match at the Covelli Center.

“I think it’s a big check mark for this team and for our program,” head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg said. “I think it’s great for our team to fight through those nerves and fight hard together, and survive and advance.”

Ohio State got off to a quick start in the first set with help from a 4-0 service run by junior libero Kylie Murr to lead 5-0 and force an early Tennessee timeout. A block by senior middle blocker Ava Bell and graduate outside hitter Breana Runnels helped the Lady Vols cut down the Buckeyes’ lead to four-points, 14-10. However, a service ace by Murr forced a Tennessee timeout, 16-10.

Following the break, a huge block by senior middle blocker Danielle Mahaffey and junior right side hitter Morgahn Fingall helped Tennessee trim the Buckeyes’ lead, but back-to-back kills by junior outside hitter Jenaiysa Moore helped put Ohio State ahead, 21-14. After multiple service errors by Tennessee, the Buckeyes took the first set, 25-18.

Tennessee came out much stronger in the second set to lead 12-6 from tough serving by senior outside hitter Lily Felts. Back-to-back kills from sophomore opposite hitter Emily Londot helped Ohio State cut the Lady Vols’ lead to four points, but a service ace by Runnels expanded Tennessee’s lead to 17-10.

A kill by junior outside hitter Gabby Gonzales stopped the Lady Vols’ run, but multiple service errors by the Buckeyes put Tennessee ahead, 22-14. Back-to-back aces by sophomore setter JaKya Moore helped Tennessee take the second set, 25-14.

Ohio State came out fighting in the third set with a solo block by freshman middle blocker Arica Davis to take an early 6-4 lead. A service ace by Moore tied the set at 7-all, but back-to-back kills by the Buckeyes forced Tennessee to take a timeout, 11-8.

Another solo block by Davis put Ohio State up 17-13, but a kill by Runnels put Tennessee within two points at 18-16. A hitting error by Ohio State put Tennesse down one point, 21-20, and forced the Buckeyes to take a timeout. Out of the timeout, Ohio State went on a 4-1 run to take the third set, 25-21.

It was back-and-forth in the fourth set until a kill by Rader helped Ohio State take a 9-6 edge, but a kill by Runnels put Tennessee within one point, 9-8. Back-to-back stuff blocks by the Lady Vols tied the set at 11-all. However, a kill by Rader put Ohio State up 15-13 at the media timeout.

After the break, a block by Londot put Ohio State up 19-17 and forced Tennessee to take a timeout. An attack error by Ohio State tied the set back up at 19-all, but a kill by Londot gave the Buckeyes a two-point edge, 21-19. A setter dump by junior setter Mac Podraza gave Ohio State the fourth set 25-21.

“I think we know that we didn’t play our best out there, but I think that just proves to us that we need to get in the gym and work on all those things,” Murr said. “The country doesn’t really know what we have to offer because we didn’t necessarily showcase it, so I’m excited to shock all these teams and show them actually what we’re made of.”

The Buckeyes look to calm their nerves and play loose as they continue on in the tournament, Oldenburg said.

“We want to do more and accomplish more,” Oldenburg said. “This team, they feel a little bit of pressure to do that and they just need to play loose and free. When they do that, and they are the aggressor on the third contact, we are in good shape.”

Ohio State will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to take on No. 8 Georgia Tech Thursday.

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