Ohio St. upsets Tennessee to advance
Five Buckeyes contribute double-digit kills in five-set victory
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ohio State battled its way into the third round of the NCAA tournament with an upset victory against host Tennessee 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12), Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick has a team with very few weaknesses,” head women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston, said. “We knew we had to play nearly perfect to win.”
The Buckeyes (21-14 Big Ten) received a 22-kill effort from junior Mari Hole, while junior Emily Danks added 18 kills. Junior Amanda Peterson lent a helping hand with 52 assists for the Scarlet and Gray. Five Buckeyes had double-digit digs led by Hole (16) and sophomore Davionna DiSalvatore (15), while junior Mariah Booth had a team-best 10 blocks (2s, 8a).
Kelsey Robinson led the Volunteers (28-4) with 17 kills, while Mary Pollmiller tallied 49 assists. Shealyn Kolosky was a menace for UT defensively, playing a part in 10 assisted blocks.
SEC champion Tennessee jumped out to an early lead by taking the first set, 25-23. The two teams exchanged points before the Buckeyes completed a 4-0 run to take a 6-2 lead compliment of back-to-back unassisted blocks from Hole and Danks. The Volunteers stormed back with an 8-1 run of their own, leaving the Buckeyes at a 10-7 deficit. With the UT lead at 23-19, Ohio State pulled back within a point on two of errors from Tennessee and kills from Kelli Barhorst and Hole. Tennessee’s Tiffany Baker ended the Buckeye comeback as she notched a kill off the outstretched arm of a diving Sarah Mignin to take the set for UT.
Ohio State took advantage of a .150 attack percentage from Tennessee in the second set to knot the score at a set apiece with a 25-21 win. Action tightened up as well, as both teams exchanged 4-0 runs, but neither could sustain a longer streak. Tennessee led 6-4 before the teams fought to a 16-16 tie. Following a 3-0 run by UT, the Scarlet and Gray took advantage of a 7-1 run, including kills from a trio of Buckeyes and a service ace from Danks, to take hold of the score at 23-20. After a kill from UT’s Robinson, Hole claimed the second set for the Buckeyes with a pair of kills off feeds from Peterson.
Ohio State edged ahead, taking the third set, 25-23. Trailing 10-6, the Volunteers benefited from a pair of kills by DeeDee Harrison on a 4-1 run to cut the deficit to a point. Kaitlyn Leary recorded a pair of kills and a solo block for the Buckeyes in a 7-3 run to push Ohio State to an 18-13 lead. UT climbed right back with an 8-2 streak to take the lead, 21-20, garnering an enthusiastic roar from the home crowd. The Buckeyes immediately used a timeout to regain composure and received a pair of kills from Danks and a block from both Booth and Danks on a 5-2 run to take the set.
Four sets were not enough to decide a winner as Tennessee raced out to a 4-1 lead in set four and held on throughout to tie the match, 2-2. Down 20-15, OSU moved the score to 21-19 with kills from Hole and Barhorst, as well as a pair of errors from UT. The Volunteers maintained the two-point lead until kills from Baker and Harrison claimed the set, 25-23, and sent the match into a fifth set.
Feeding off the energy of the crowd, Tennessee built an early 3-1 lead in the final frame, but the Buckeyes made the lead their own with five unanswered points, two off Hole kills, as part of a 7-1 run. The UT defense sharpened, making several digs on the way to a 6-2 run to tie the set at 10 apiece. Ohio State made the set and match its own after that, taking five of the last seven points. Booth made a kill in the middle of the court to punch the Buckeyes’ ticket to the third round with a 15-12 win.
Ohio State will travel to Florida, Dec. 9-10, for the Gainsville Regional and will face the winner of second-seed Illinois and Marquette.