Dec. 9, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State women's volleyball team concluded the 2011 campaign in Gainesville, Fla., with a 3-1 (25-23, 24-26, 23-25, 19-25) loss to third-seed Illinois in the regional semifinal of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships. The Buckeyes finished with a 21-15 overall record, while the Illini improved to 30-4 on the season.
Junior Emily Danks had a match-high 20 kills and hit .405 at the net, while junior Mari Hole tallied 12 kills and 12 digs. Senior Sarah Mignin finished with a team-best 21 digs and classmate Kelli Barhorst notched eight kills and two blocks. Setter Amanda Peterson finished with 50 assists and three block assists.
The Illini were led by Michelle Bartsch and Colleen Ward with 18 and 15 kills, respectively. Setter Annie Luhrsen had six kills and 43 assists, while libero Jennifer Beltran had a match-high 26 digs.
The familiarity of the two teams showed as Ohio State and Illinois raced out to a 12-12 tie in the first set before the Buckeyes jumped ahead, 15-12, with the help of a pair of kills from Hole and a service ace from Danks. Trailing 18-15 after a double contact call on Illinois' Beltran, the Illini kept pace with the Buckeyes before a 4-1 run tied the game at 21 apiece. A pair of kills from Danks and a solo block from Barhorst put the upstart Buckeyes ahead, 24-22. The Illini threatened momentarily after a kill from Ward, but Peterson notched the final kill and handed Ohio State ownership of the first set.
The Illini responded well in the second set, doubling up on the Buckeyes to lead, 9-4, before two kills from Danks powered a 4-0 run for OSU to bring the score to 9-8. Illinois shrugged off the advance, posting a 4-0 run of its own to regain a five-point lead, 13-8. Down 16-11, Ohio State engaged in a 9-3 spree, capped by two Kaitlyn Leary kills, to leave the Illini clutching onto a one-point lead with the score at 20-19. Following an Illini timeout, OSU took two quick points to earn its first lead of the set at 21-20. Despite a set-saving kill from Danks to tie the score at 24-24, Illinois claimed the final two points to take the set and tie the match, one set apiece.
The third set resembled the first as the score climbed to 14 apiece before Illinois jetted ahead with a 4-1 run to take the lead, 18-15. A kill from Danks and a block from Mariah Booth and Peterson moved the Buckeyes within one point, but the Illini responded with back-to-back points to return its lead to three and force a Buckeye timeout up, 20-17. Ohio State made the most of the stoppage and charged back with a 5-1 run to take a 22-21 lead after a pair of kills from Danks and two attack errors from Illinois. The lead was short-lived for the Buckeyes as the Illini took control of the match with a 4-1 run to take the set, 25-23.
The Illini retained their groove into the fourth set, jumping out to an 8-4 lead. The Scarlet and Gray performed well in the middle of the set, tearing off a 7-2 run to take the lead, 15-14, with kills from four Buckeyes in that span. Tied at 17 apiece, Illinois took advantage of an 8-2 run, including a pair of service aces, to take the set, 25-19, and the match, three games to one, to advance to the Elite Eight.
The Buckeyes reached the Sweet Sixteen for the second-consecutive season and notched its third-straight season with 20-plus wins.