Ohio State women’s volleyball has defeated its boogeyman.
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Since 2004, the Buckeyes have reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament eight times. After falling short in their first seven attempts to advance to the Elite Eight, No. 3-seeded Ohio State finally broke through on Thursday in Austin, Texas, defeating No. 2-seeded Minnesota in four sets.
Outside hitter Emily Londot led Ohio State to the victory. The third-year Buckeye from Utica, Ohio, recorded 29 kills with a .500 hitting percentage, 13 digs and two blocks against the Gophers. However, she wasn't the only Buckeye with a strong performance in the matchup with Minnesota.
Here is how the match all went down:
Ohio State and Minnesota went back and forth for the entire first set.
Londot, the AVCA Regional Player of the Year, led the Buckeyes with eight kills in the game, while Big Ten Setter of the Year Mac Podraza quickly racked up double-digit assists.
Still, the Golden Gophers prevailed over the Buckeyes in a down-to-the-wire finish. With the teams tied at 22, Minnesota won the final three points of the frame to claim a 25-22 set win.
The Buckeyes struck back in the second set, but not without a slow start. Minnesota went out to a 6-2 lead in the first eight points, which forced Ohio State head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg to take a timeout.
As it turned out, that was what the Oldenburg's squad needed to turn the set around. Ohio State came out of that huddle as a more focused unit and controlled the frame from that point forward. The Buckeyes went on multiple long runs against Minnesota, including a stretch where it scored 11 of the final 16 points to win the game, 25-21.
For the 28th time this season, Londot was the first player of the match to reach 10 kills. She also recorded a double-double midway through the second frame. With the score tied at 16, Londot collected her 10th dig before spiking an assist from Podraza to record her 12th kill. It was her team-leading 15th double-double of the season.
Londot continued her dominance of the Gophers in the third set, surpassing 20 kills for the third time this season as Ohio State won the frame, 25-21.
Through the first three games, the third-year Buckeye from Utica, Ohio, had a career-high 24 kills with a .538 hitting percentage and 11 digs. Her 25.5 points to that point led the match by 12 points, as Minnesota's Taylor Landfair's 13.5 points were the second most from any player.
In addition to Londot, Podraza maintained her high level of play and reached 35 assists by the time the Buckeyes won the third game. She also helped Londot and the other outside hitters for Ohio State by keeping Minnesota honest as she set them up for kills, even catching the Gophers out of position a couple of times to score points.
Podraza and middle blocker Rylee Rader were also the Buckeyes that captured the set win as they combined for a block that gave Ohio State its 25th point in the game and allowed it to take a 2-1 lead.
With a trip to the Elite Eight on the line, Ohio State closed the door and sent Minnesota home packing and won the set, 25-19, with a dominant effort in the fourth set.
The Buckeyes continued to rely on Londot in the final frame but also saw significant contributions from Kylie Murr and Jenaisya Moore.
Londot surpassed her career high in the fourth set by recording her 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th kills as Ohio State ran away with the game.
Murr, the Big Ten Defender of the Year in 2022, recorded at least 10 digs for the 28th time this season. She reached that mark midway through the fourth frame and finished with 15 in the contest. Meanwhile, Moore had double-digit kills for the 23rd time this year and ended with 13 in the match.
With the win over Minnesota, Ohio State advances to its first Elite Eight in 18 years and third in program history. The Buckeyes previously reached the NCAA Regional Final three times, in 1991, 1994 and 2004, with the first two teams eventually advancing to the Final Four before losing to UCLA and Stanford (both in three sets), respectively, while the third team lost to Minnesota in five sets in Minneapolis.
In the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Ohio State cruised to victories over Tennessee State and USC last weekend, sweeping both opponents in front of sell-out crowds at the Covelli Center in Columbus before beating Minnesota in Austin on Thursday.
Ohio State's postseason run will continue against No. 1 seed Texas, who defeat No. 4- seeded Marquette in four sets on Thursday. Texas and Ohio State previously faced each other in a double-header in Columbus to start the season, with the Longhorns winning both matches 3-0 and 3-1.
The Buckeyes’ regional final rematch with Texas will occur on Saturday at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.