Our 19th ranked Buckeyes are in preparation for back-to-back matches in the historic St. John Arena with a rematch against the #2 Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday the 14th and the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday the 15th.
First up the Cornhuskers whom the Buckeyes defeated back on Saturday October 1st in Lincoln – 3-0 (17-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-13). At the time of this match the Cornhuskers were the # 1 team in the nation.
This shall be interesting indeed. The Buckeyes are currently 2-4 in Big Ten Play and 12-6 overall. Nebraska is 5-1 in the Big Ten and 14-1 overall. Their lone loss is via the Buckeyes back on October 1st. They are viewing possibilities of revenge, which knocked them off that #1 ranking.
OSU leads the Big Ten in assists with a 13.48% while the Cornhuskers are 5th with a 13.04%. In the kills category they are evenly matched – Nebraska is 3rd with a 14.22 % and OSU is 4th with a 14.14%. The Buckeyes have Taylor Sandbothe 5th overall in the Big Ten in kills with 249 and a 3.83%. Audra Appold is 9th with 172 and a 3.37%. Nebraska’s only representative in kills is Kadie Rolfzen at 11 with 164 and a 3.28%.
Come Saturday they shall meet up with Iowa who is not in the National Top 25. But they certainly are not a sneeze! They are 4-2 in the Big Ten and 14-4 overall. In Big Ten play Iowa is 4th in hitting % with .286; the Buckeyes are 11th with .251. In the Kills category OSU is 4th with a 14.14% while Iowa stands at 5th with a 13.88% – which looks even to me. In the Blocks section Iowa’s Jess Janota is 7th in the Big Ten with a 1.13 average per game. Taylor Sandbothe for the Buckeyes is 10th with 1.10. Valeria León for the Buckeyes leads all Big Ten players in digs with 104 and a 4.95%. Iowa has Annika Olsen at # 8 with 68 and 3.24%.
It’s mere statistics in reference to both Nebraska and Iowa. But sports reporting often rely on these numbers. The Buckeyes are a competent team with heart and some fantastic talent with Taylor Sandbothe, Taylor Hughes, Audra Appold, Valeria León, Madison Smeathers, and Luisa Schirmer. I believe the disappointment thus far in Big Ten play has them setting new views and reestablishing priorities. I look for our Buckeyes to sweep the weekend in St. John’s.
What has led to use the word “disappointment” was last weekend’s dual losses up north to both *ichigan State and TTUN (both road games). On October 7th against the Spartans, ranked 21st at that moment thirteen Buckeyes saw action in the 3-0 decision (25-18, 25-20, 25-23).
Taylor Sandbothe paced the team with 12.5 points, and Luisa Schirmer racked nine tallies. Taylor Hughes also had four blocks and Valeria León led all in the digs column, picking up eight balls.
It wouldn’t be enough … the loss was indeed a disappointment since fine performances by the Buckeyes did transpire. But unfortunately these things happen.
Then the journey to Ann Arbor did not fare any better. The nationally ranked # 23 Wolverines of TTUN beat the Buckeyes 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 16-25, 27-25).
In this match Valeria León came within 35 digs of matching the all-time Ohio State record in a career. With a match-high 23 digs vs. the Wolverines, she ran her total to 1,537 (Stacey Gordon — 1,572 digs; 2001-04). Taylor Sandbothe, who is chasing an OSU record of her own, tacked on five more for a career sum of 487 stuffs (Dawn McDougall — 517 blocks; 1988-91).
Perhaps, Sandbothe’s biggest statistical gifts came offensively on Sunday, however, with 17 kills at a .333 attacking rate. Luisa Schirmer mirrored the 17 kills and upped the ante with her .359 hitting percentage (17-3-39). Taylor Hughes also accounted for double-digit points, registering nine kills; two aces and a block assist (11.5 points).
So the Buckeyes played well in both losses. But it is time to let that all go and move on to what is looking you in the eye now. And that happens to be Nebraska who certainly is looking for revenge, and Iowa, who undoubtedly isn’t travelling to Columbus to lose. But the mood for the Buckeyes is different; I saw that in the final wind-down in Ann Arbor. I look for a step-up and back-to-back wins.
Be sure to tune in. Friday the 14th at St. John vs. Nebraska at 6:00 p.m. on BTN. Then come Saturday, also St. John at 6:00 p.m. on BTN as well.
I will see you there.