The Ohio State women’s volleyball season came to an end Thursday after a heartbreaking Sweet Sixteen loss in the NCAA tournament to No. 8 Georgia Tech in straight sets (22-25, 24-26, 21-25).
This wasn’t the ending the No. 9 Buckeyes had hoped for, and the loss marks two years in a row they’ve been eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen round. But though coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg and the team are already looking ahead to next season with hunger and discussions of a Big Ten Championship, there are still plenty of highlights in this 27-6 season.
Here were five of the best highlights from Buckeye women’s volleyball this year:
The Buckeyes continued the momentum from last season by starting this year 10-0, which also led them to their highest ACVA ranking in program history at No. 3. The first ten matches included a season opener against Northern Kentucky and victory at the Red Raider Classic. Their 10th win came in five tight sets at home against Notre Dame and marked their first home match with fans in attendance in more than 600 days, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sweet Revenge Against Purdue
Purdue handed the Buckeyes their first loss in OSU’s first conference matchup of the season. It was a heartbreaking five-set loss, so when the Buckeyes met Purdue again on October 15, they had something to prove. The Buckeye home victory in four sets (25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21) was OSU’s second top-10 win of the season. OSU outhit the Boilermakers in every set, junior outside hitter Gabby Gonzales recorded her 500th career dig, and four Buckeyes recorded double-figure kills — senior outside hitter Mia Grunze (17 kills), Gonzales (12 kills), sophomore middle blocker Rylee Rader (11 kills), sophomore outside hitter Emily Londot (13 kills).
Senior Day Victory Over Penn State
In a sold-out showdown against No. 15 Penn State, the Buckeyes closed out their home games with their fifth ranked win of the season and their third in November alone. The victory in four sets (25-23, 22-25, 25-11, 25-20) was neck and neck throughout. Highlights included an 8-0 run in the third set, a set in which the Buckeyes outhit the Nittany Lions .429-.028. The defense had Penn State hitting less than .200 in all three sets. Gonzales recorded her 13th straight match with at least 10 kills, and Kylie Murr’s 17 digs moved her into the top 5 in school history for career digs, bringing her total to 1,351. Senior Hannah Gruensfelder recorded a season-high 19 digs, and Emily Londot earned her sixth double-double of the season with 22 kills and 12 digs.
Five Buckeyes Earning All-Big Ten Honors
At the end-of-season Big Ten Conference awards, five Buckeyes were recognized for their achievements, including two All-Conference First Team selections. Rader was a unanimous selection for first team after leading the team in hitting percentage (.445), the fourth-best in the country and a tie for the conference lead. Joining her was junior setter Mac Podraza who earned three Big Ten Setter of the Week nods this season. Londot was named All-Conference Second Team, freshman middle blocker Arica Davis was named All-Freshman Team, and Gruensfelder received the Sportsmanship Award.
Arica Davis’ Powerhouse Debut Season
Davis made her mark on this program as a freshman, proving the future is bright for the Buckeyes. In addition to being named to the All-Freshman Team, she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times throughout the season. In her collegiate debut, Davis set the program record for single-match block assists (12), and tied the single-match record for total blocks (13), setting the tone for the powerhouse she would be throughout the season. Her presence and leadership on the court even as a freshman bode well as the Buckeyes look ahead to next season.