The Ohio State University Women’s Volleyball Squad took one on the chin against the Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend on Sunday. The Buckeyes had handed the Irish a sweep on Friday in Columbus, so the continued need for abuse just wasn’t in Notre Dame’s heart. They handed the Buckeyes their third loss of the young season in four sets (25-22, 21-25, 25-14, 25-17) 3-1. The bright spot of the afternoon was the Buckeyes freshman libero Hannah Gruensfelder and her astonishing 38 digs, the most ever by a Buckeye in a four-set contest.
Gruensfelder’s digging explosion surpassed the previous four-set mark of 35 digs by Valeria Leon versus Arizona in 2015 and is the second-highest total overall (Julie Chellevold dug 41 balls in a five-set match way back in 1990). Within this season, she has now produced an average of 5.03 digs per set, good for the top spot in the entire Big Ten Conference. Ohio State’s 109 team digs total versus Notre Dame cracks the Top-20 in school history, fueled by Audra Appold (17), Luisa Schirmer (16) and Taylor Hughes (14) each contributing big-time as well.
Set 1: Gruensfelder owned her destiny from the jump – digging a dozen balls in the opening frame. Offensively, Ohio State was pushed by Hughes’ 11 assists and four kills, along with a combined 10 kills from Schirmer and Ashley Wenz on the outside. The 11th tie of the afternoon came at 21-21 and represented the start of a 5-1 Irish run to conclude the set, 25-22.
Set 2: Gruensfelder smashed another 12 digs which was complemented by nine and seven kills, respectively, by Wenz and Madison Smeathers; as Hughes distributed 19 assists and the Buckeyes attacked nearly .300 as a team. Ohio State pulled even at one set apiece with a 25-21 conquest.
Set 3: The fine oiled machine of the previous set came unhinged – a tad – here in the third. The Irish tallied six blocks and the Buckeyes added six unforced attacking errors for a hitting percentage in the red (-.064). A 7-point spurt early on pushed Notre Dame ahead for good as they headed for a 25-14 win.
Set 4: Ohio State hampered Notre Dame’s rampage in the opening of the fourth set – taking a 4-1 lead. But the Irish surged, and frankly, the Buckeyes just never recovered from the surprising amount of power that shot out of the Notre Dame players. It resulted in a 25-17 loss for the Buckeyes. The Irish ended up as the afternoon’s victor.
Next up is the Buckeye Invitational which is hosted in Columbus, split between St. John Arena (Friday, Sept. 15) and the Capital Center in Bexley (Saturday, Sept. 16). Ohio State welcomes Dayton, Northern Illinois and Western Kentucky to central Ohio for the round-robin competition. You can watch on Buckeye Vision. I know I will.
See You There. GO BUCKEYES.