COLUMBUS, Ohio --On opening day of the Buckeye Invitational, No. 25 Ohio State (6-4) split a pair of matches with Western Kentucky (12-2) and Northern Illinois (1-13) at St. John Arena. The squad started the day with a loss to the Hilltoppers in straight sets (25-17, 25-20, 25-16) before rebounding with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 22-25, 25-18) victory over the Huskies to end the night.
When the Buckeyes faced WKU, sophomore Madison Smeathers paced the squad by attacking .556 (10-18) while rookie Ayanna Swan put away eight kills in her first career start. Junior Taylor Hughes tallied a team-high 26 assists and freshman Lauren Witte recorded four blocks.
Swan was on fire against the Huskies on a career-high 19 kills and senior Luisa Schirmer finished with a double-double (14 kills, 10 digs). Classmate Ashley Wenz and Witte added 10 and nine kills, respectively, while Hughes dished 33 helpers. Freshman Hannah Gruensfelder scooped a match-best 31 digs.
The Buckeyes came out swinging to start the nightcap as they took the first set, 25-19. Ohio State worked hard to fend off an NIU rally in the second after the Huskies cut the deficit to three. A kill from Swan ended the set 25-21. NIU went up 15-10 in the third set but OSU managed to pull the score to 20-19 to force a timeout. Unfortunately, the Scarlet & Gray couldn’t stifle the Huskies’ momentum and fell 25-22 in the frame. Ohio State hit .394 in the fourth set with 17 kills while limiting NIU to a .071 attacking efficiency for a 25-18 tally to wrap things up.
The Buckeyes close their non-conference schedule Saturday (Sept. 16) against Dayton at 3 p.m. at Capital Center.
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