COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 19 Ohio State University women’s volleyball team grinded out a three-set victory over Northwestern to pick up a Big Ten win and the 11th ‘W’ overall (11-4, 1-2 B1G). Valeria León dominated defensively, averaging over seven digs per set (22 total) as Ohio State out-dug Northwestern (7-8, 0-3 B1G) by 50 percent (60-to-40).
León increases her career digs total to 1,494 – just 78 away from matching the school record held by Stacey Gordon (1,572 digs; 2001-04).
A formidable blocking unit produced a half dozen stuffs by intermission and helped to limit Northwestern at a .085 attack percentage. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, hit .257 with a 14-kill advantage (44 to 30). Luisa Schirmer and Taylor Sandbothe each terminated 13 kills and while Schirmer notched her third double-double of the year with 10 digs, Sandbothe was responsible for 4.5 more points via five block assists and a pair of service aces.
Ohio State now owns a 53-20 advantage in the all-time series with Northwestern, including a 28-6 mark inside St. John Arena. The Buckeyes have won four in a row vs. NU and 13 of 15 overall under head coach Geoff Carlston.
SET 1: Runs were aplenty in the opening period, starting with a 5-1 surge out of the gates for Ohio State to force a Wildcat timeout. After Northwestern battled back to go ahead 9-8, the Buckeyes got hot again with four tallies in a row. By set’s end, Ohio State rattled off streaks of three consecutive points or more five different times; the last of which broke up an 18-18 stalemate and stretched four points in length to lift OSU on top for good at 22-18. The four-point margin would remain steady in a 25-21 Buckeye winner.
SET 2: Things got out of hand midway through the second set when the Buckeyes secured 16 of the final 22 rallies en route to a 25-12 whitewashing. Ohio State stuffed the Wildcats five times and dug 22 balls, burying Northwestern into the negatives for hitting efficiency at minues-.077. A six-point stint for freshman Camry Halm at the service stripe virtually sealed the deal late in the set.
SET 3: Northwestern flipped the script coming out of intermission. The Wildcats built an edge as large as a half dozen at 11-5 before Ohio State burned a timeout to regroup. And regroup they did, crawling back to even at 22-22 and ultimately clinching the only set-point opportunities of the night. Ohio State finally capitalized on the fourth set-point and closed the door at 28-26 when Northwestern’s errant attack ended the match.
It’s back to life on the road for Ohio State, traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on the top-ranked Huskers Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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