After a Buckeye kill during No. 13 Ohio State’s two-game series with Princeton, the team reveled in the execution of its play and a swing in energy upped the ante in the Covelli Center.
Both the Buckeyes (6-2) and Princeton showed various feelings of urgency, frustration and concentration from the start of the series. Ohio State claimed a competitive first set 25-23 Thursday and prevailed in nail-biting fashion in 30-28 third-and 25-23 fourth-set victories while the Tigers (2-5) bench and on-court players cheered and offered support whenever either team took a point.
“I’ve never seen that before,” junior setter Noah Platfoot said. “When they cheered after losing points, it definitely threw you off.”
Ohio State won Thursday’s series opener 3-1 and held off Princeton rally attempts to prevail 3-2 Friday, earning its first sweep of the season and extending its winning streak to five matches.
The first set of the match proved to the Buckeyes that the rest of the match, as well as the next one the day after, would be a challenge.
The Tigers came onto the court with hustle and momentum that the Buckeyes successfully matched to the very end, winning the first set 27-25.
Princeton began to lose steam in the second set, and the Buckeyes took advantage and ran with it, leaving the Tigers behind 25-18.
It was during the third set where the Tigers switched things up and made adjustments on their side of the court.
“They had a lineup change, halfway through the game,” junior libero Thomas Poole said.
The third set saw a battle for the two-point lead where the Tigers came on top, 30-28. The Buckeyes showed frustration, and Poole said they primed themselves to bounce back in the fourth.
“We weren’t out of the set,” Poole said. “We were right in with them, and just knowing that, we just got to clean up things.”
The fourth set not only saw energy from both teams on the court, but from both sidelines as well. Platfoot said junior outside hitter Jacob Pasteur told the team the Tigers’ bench was more vocal and energetic compared to their own.
“From that point, it’s almost like the student section and our bench just completely came together and made so much more noise than we could of thought of,” Platfoot said.
The fourth set showed intense, back-and-forth play with the point difference from either team never exceeding two. The Buckeyes and the Tigers tied the set a total of nine times.
The Tigers raised the green challenge card after a team error gave the Buckeyes match point 25-23, and it went unsuccessful for Princeton, allowing Ohio State to win the match.
The Tigers did not start the first set with the same power they had in their last match, but they quickly found their groove and took Ohio State the distance in the finale.
“I think we played a really good Princeton team,” redshirt senior outside hitter Jack Stevens said.
The first set was won by the Buckeyes 25-13, and the Tigers roared back with their energy in the second.
The Tigers gained the upper hand quickly and the lead, forcing the Buckeyes to take a timeout at 21-18.
Ohio State brought the score within 24-23, but an error cost them the chance to complete its comeback bid.
The Tigers didn’t back down and won the second set 25-23.
The third set showed who maintained the most momentum. The Buckeyes began to lack defense with spots on the court being taken advantage of by the opposing team.
“Our message all the time is to stay together,” Stevens said.
The Tigers bench increased in volume so much that one of the referees asked them to take a few steps back from the court, and their energy spread to their teammates on the court — paying Princeton positive dividends.
Ohio State held a 5-3 lead in the third set, but once the Tigers pushed past after earning their sixth point, they held firm to the end. Princeton claimed the third 25-17 after the Buckeyes pulled within 20-15.
Sophomore middle blocker Cole Young said the Buckeyes “we were just ready to respond” after seeing Princeton hold steady throughout the third set and series
Neither team backed down easily in the fourth set, but Pasteur and Young spearheaded Ohio State’s 25-17 victory.
The fifth set began the race to 15 points.
The Buckeyes started ahead 4-0 thanks to a service ace by Pasteur and a pair of errors by the Tigers.
Princeton pulled within 6-4 and 10-7, but three kills by Pasteur down the stretch, and Buckeye blocks kept the Tigers at bay. Freshman opposite hitter Shane Wetzel notched the kill and helped Ohio State claim its 15th point, prevailing 15-9 and earning the sweep
The Buckeyes will hit the road next weekend to Pennsylvania to face UCLA and the University of Southern California in the Big Ten/Pac 12 Challenge. Ohio State and UCLA will begin play at 4 p.m. Friday.
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