Lexington Volleyball Regional: Washington 3, Ohio State 2

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In a back-and-forth battle all night long, it was the No. 5 overall seed Washington Huskies who earned a 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 12-25, 15-8) win over No. 12 Ohio State to move on to the final eight teams of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in the Lexington Regional. Washington will take on Nebraska at 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU to punch a ticket to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., next week.
Washington captured the opening point of the final frame and eventually stretched the lead to 4-1. Ohio State fought back to eventually come within two at 5-3, but the Huskies answered with two straight including a big block off an impressive rally from the two squads. The designated home team owned an 8-4 lead into the switching of benches midway through the set. The Huskies were the first to 10 owning a five-point lead at 10-5. Washington exploded for a .571 hitting clip and eight kills to carry the Huskies to a 15-8 fifth set win and a right to march on to the Elite Eight.
The Huskies were led by 14 kills from Lianna Sybeldon and 10 from Melanie Wade. Bailey Tanner and Katy Beals both dished out 21 assists, while Wade and Sybeldon combined for 12 blocks. Courtney Schwan led three players in double-figures in digs with 15. Cassie Strickland had 14 and Tia Scambray added 12. Ohio State’s Elizabeth Campbell had a match-high 24 kills and added 12 digs in the loss. Taylor Sandbothe contributed 11 kills and a match-best eight blocks.
Washington and Ohio State endured a back-and-forth battle for the majority of the opening portions of the first set. Neither team was able to grab more than a two-point edge and at the media timeout the Huskies led 15-14. Neither team could grasp much of an advantage setting the stage for an explosive finish. Ohio State earned set point on a block from Sandbothe and Taylor Hughes. Following an extensive rally on the final point of the frame, the Buckeyes were able to squeak out a 25-23 win behind a big solo rejection from Wade. The difference in the opening frame was the defensive effort from Ohio State as the Buckeyes logged seven blocks and limited the Huskies to a negative .024 hitting clip.
Ohio State’s momentum continued over into the second set as the designated visitors jumped in front by a 2-0 margin to begin the stanza. Washington quickly rebounded to knot the score at five apiece. After trading points, the Huskies were finally able to stretch out a two-point edge at 13-11, forcing the Buckeyes into a timeout. It was all the more breathing room the home team would need en route to a 25-20 second set win to even the match at one set apiece. This time it was the Huskies with defense with three blocks and 12 digs to keep the Buckeyes in check with a .189 hitting clip.
Washington utilized a 7-3 run to guide its way to a 10-5 lead to begin the third frame. The lead swelled to seven at 14-7 behind the second block of the stanza for the Huskies. A 25-18 third set win by the Huskies gave the designated home team a 2-1 edge in the match. Washington charted 14 kills on a .265 hitting clip and limited the Buckeyes to a mere .121 percentage.
Ohio State, needing to win to force a decisive fifth frame, snapped a 3-3 tie with a 3-0 run highlighted by a block from Sandbothe. Washington pulled to within two at 9-7, but the Buckeyes then put together an impressive 16-5 run to conclude the fourth set en route to a dominating 25-12 win to make the match come down to the final 15 points. Ohio State charted a .375 hitting clip with 15 kills in the frame to couple with four blocks, with three coming from Sandbothe. Washington managed just eight kills on another negative hitting clip, this one at .059. 

Washington Quotes

Head Coach Keegan Cook 

Opening Statement… 
“First and foremost, a big congratulations to Ohio State on their season. You saw what kind of team that was tonight, playing unbelievable for five sets. It’s the same team we saw on film, who went five with Minnesota and beat Nebraska. What an outstanding, defensive-minded team. They’re just really impressive. We haven’t hit this low efficiently in a long time and all that credit goes to them and their effort. That’s first and foremost. What a tremendous amount of heart from this team. Not a whole lot of things went well or smooth in this match. We got out-dug and out-hit. To still come out with a win, it takes a lot of intangibles. It’s a big deal.” 

On the big win despite a lackluster performance …
“Again, some serious intangibles. To win games that you don’t play well, it takes something extra. To bounce back from that fourth set says something about us. I think we’re all happy that we get a chance to play again tomorrow and that this wasn’t our last match together. We haven’t play our best match yet, so tomorrow is that chance.”

On the matchup against Nebraska … 
“I see kind of the same things I saw from Ohio State and Michigan State, another big, physical Big Ten team. I thought they served the ball tremendously well against BYU tonight. I thought their outside hitters were outstanding. That’s going to be a huge battle for us to defend their outsides. Again, two slide hitters. It seems like every Big Ten team has those same things. You know, really impressive outside hitters and really good slide middles. That’s what we’re expecting to see tomorrow.”

Libero Cassie Strickland

On gaining the momentum back in the fifth set… 
“They kind of had the momentum. Everything was going their way in the fourth set and I think we just told each other, ‘Hey, they got that game, they ran away with it.’ A lot of things went their way, but it was 0-0 again and we just had to get back their and fight and play our game.”

On the game plan tomorrow against Nebraska …
“I think we’re ready for tomorrow. We’re not going to try and force perfect passes. We know we’re good with two-point passes. We’re just going to make sure we get our setters some time.” 

Middle Blocker Melanie Wade

On Ohio State’s defensive effort … 
“They’re just a good defensive team. They have some big girls and they play some good defense. They were hustling to a lot of balls. I think it was just good effort by them and maybe we made some bad choices at times, but I think that they did a really good job.” 

On the team’s mindset going into a rematch against Nebraska  … 
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us. We want to play against the best. It wouldn’t be any fun if we were going up against teams that didn’t match up well and were good. I think it’s just a really fun opportunity"

Middle Blocker Lianna Sybeldon

On the team’s mindset during this regional… 
“I think we have an understanding of what can happen if we don’t play our best, but I don’t think we were nervous of that happening because we also understand what we’re capable of and know what we can accomplish as a team if we play well together. ” 

Ohio State Quotes

Head Coach Geoff Carlston

Opening Statement… 
“It was the kind of match we wanted. We really wanted a brawl, so it was a defensive battle. I was really proud of our team and the gameplan we had with them. Congrats to Washington, they made great plays. Especially in the fifth set. We just weren’t able to get a rally going in that fifth set. It was a great match. I couldn’t be more proud, that’s why I have all five of my seniors here. Some of the best I have ever had coaching. I’m so thankful for this group and so thankful to be here. It hurts. But what I told the team in the locker room that the feeling and emotions that we had in that room is a real unique experience. I wanted them to take a moment and get a perspective on it. It’s pretty cool. That’s one of the best parts of this job the highs are highs and the lows are low, but being able to be a part of something like this with this group and this team is something I’m very grateful for.” 

On hitting 0.70 and having several serving errors but still winning.… 
“First, several doesn’t do it any justice. I think we had seven errors. Yeah, that wasn’t great because our game plan was to minimize our errors and that wasn’t a great start. What do you do when you libero flops the first serve on the table? You laugh it off and move on. I think it was that we played great defense and we played tough at the end. I wouldn’t say it was our game plan to miss six serves, but our team doesn't give up. I think our game plan stressed them out at times. Our players really went for it especially at the end of that set. I couldn’t be any prouder. It was a fun game to be a part of.”


On the momentum going into the fifth set …
Andrea Kacsits: “I felt like we were connecting on our side, but Washington just stepped it up in the fifth and did a great job. 

Elizabeth Campbell: There’s not much else you can say, we played very clean which from set to set. You can’t say if we played clean or if we made a lot of errors because we were kind of all over the board. So we don’t see the previous set effecting the set we are in right now, we are very much in the moment. As far as the fifth set went with momentum, it was just 0-0, the first to fifteen points wins. It had nothing to do with the fourth set.

Coach Carlston: They served the ball very well in the fifth set, you have to give them credit to that. They served zone, they served tough, and they served very well in the fifth set. That’s why they’re number one in the country, they’re able to do that. I thought we did some other things to stress them out too, but their serving in the fifth set was stressful.”

On what the seniors best memories are looking back …
Andrea Kacsits: “That’s a hard question to answer, there are a lot of memories. I think by the redness on our face you can tell. I know for Katie and I, we looked at each other and we started at Ohio State and we were lucky enough to be able to get three new ones. I mean, Kentucky has been memory after memory, freshman year we ended here. It has just been a long, fun run. We are lucky enough to have a coaching staff that really values cultural experiences, too. So on all of our preseason things and on as many trips as we can take, we can do fun things. So those are the things that we’ll remember and fun games like this where we laid it all out on the floor. But as far as our four or five years are concerned its been memory after memory and it’s because of the awesome people we are surrounded by.”