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    Wildcats Can't Crack Buckeyes and Fall, 3-0

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    Ohio State Ohio State 3, Northwestern 0
    St. John Arena • Columbus, Ohio • Attendance: 1,290

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Northwestern came up short in its bid to sweep the season series against Ohio State as the Buckeyes avenged an earlier loss in Evanston with a 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-18) victory at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio Saturday night.

    The Wildcats (16-14, 8-10 B1G) struggled offensively in the loss as they tallied 37 kills, but were plagued by 19 attacking errors against Ohio State (16-14, 5-13 B1G). After a hot start, the Buckeyes cooled off somewhat, but still managed to hit just below .300 as a team in their fifth Big Ten win of the season.

    "We're all certainly disappointed with the results from this weekend, but we'll have to move on quickly because know we have another important week in front of us," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "We did some things well, but overall I thought Ohio State played a very smart game tonight and put us in some uncomfortable situations. They got the critical points down the stretch and those proved to be the difference."

    The home team got off to a smooth start as it hit a combined .395 en route to a nine-point victory, 25-16. Northwestern never led in the first and was troubled by five attacking errors and a pair of service errors in the first set. The 'Cats had no answer for the Big Ten's leader in kills, Kaitlyn Leary, as she put down seven of Ohio State's 18 kills in the opening frame.

    Northwestern continued to struggle in its search for an offensive rhythm early in the second stanza. Leary and the Buckeyes charged out to a 10-4 lead, prompting Chan to call for a timeout. The Wildcats produced a 5-1 run to cut their deficit to a pair at 11-9, but Ohio State refused to surrender the lead. Northwestern kept the Scarlet and Gray in its sight and eventually got to within a single tally at 23-22 when a Buckeye committed an attacking error. Following an OSU timeout, the 'Cats finally knotted the score at 24 points apiece when Caleigh Ryan and Savannah Paffen teamed up to stuff Leary's effort. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Buckeyes secured the next two points on a kill from Taylor Sandbothe and an NU error to win the second set, 26-24, and take a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

    The Wildcats opened up a 9-5 cushion early in the third set, their first lead of the night, but a methodical 6-1 run by Ohio State suddenly put the Purple and White behind by a point. The teams traded scores for a spell until a 6-0 run by the Buckeyes ultimately sunk Northwestern. Chicago's Big Ten Team quickly saw a one-point lead turn into a five-point deficit, 19-14. The 'Cats never fully recovered and OSU won the third, 25-18, to close out the match.

    Northwestern newcomer Kayla Morin led her team with 13 kills Saturday, while adding seven digs, a block and an ace. Stephanie Holthus had 12 kills for the 'Cats and Paffen added six. The libero for the 'Cats, Caroline Niedospial, led the squad with 15 digs; she also chipped in with three assists and an ace.

    To conclude the current three-match road trip and the last week of the regular season, Northwestern will head to downstate Champaign on Wednesday evening to take on No. 20 Illinois at Huff Hall at 7 p.m. After dropping the first two sets in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, the Wildcats stormed back to knock off the Illini in five sets.


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