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Badgers' rally falls short in back-and-forth battle with Buckeyes

15 Ohio State 3, Wisconsin 1
St. John Arena • Columbus, Ohio
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1st 2nd 3rd 4th
16 15 25 28
 Ohio State
25 25 23 30
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• Attendance: 1,953
 Stats Leaders
Wisconsin Ohio State
Mikaelsen - 13 Kills Hole - 15
Thomas - 38 Assists Peterson - 37
Mitchell - .273 Hit %
Peterson - .800
Hickey - 19 Digs DiSalvatore - 31
Morales - 3  Aces DiSalvatore - 3
 Stats Comparison
 Kills 49 60
 Hitting Pct. .144 .293
 Assists 45 59
 Service Aces 5 6
 Digs 59 77
 Total Blocks 3 8
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Nov. 2, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- What is expected to be Wisconsin’s toughest road swing of the season is living up to that billing halfway through.

Friday’s result was certainly a tough one to swallow for the Badgers.

After digging out of an early hole, UW’s hopes for a comeback were thwarted in a dramatic fourth set as the Badgers suffered a 16-25, 15-25, 25-23 28-30 loss to No. 15 Ohio State at St. John Arena.

 Fast Facts
• Badgers fall after battling back from 0-2 deficit
• Mikaelsen leads Badgers with 13 kills
• Thomas posts 13th double-double with 38 assists, 11 digs

It was all Ohio State early, as the Buckeyes ran away with the first two sets. What stings for UW is the way the Badgers rallied to win the third before falling agonizingly short of pushing OSU to a decisive fifth frame.

UW served for set point five times in the fourth but couldn’t string together consecutive points to seal the deal in a set that saw 14 ties and eight lead changes.

“That’s a tough one,” UW head coach Pete Waite said. “The first two sets, OSU was playing nearly flawless volleyball. We just weren’t in our rhythm at all.

“But we did a great job coming out of the locker room. You could either lie down or you could come out and fight, and we fought.”

While Waite can take away positives from a resilient performance against a strong opponent on the road, the going doesn’t get any easier for Wisconsin (16-10, 4-9 Big Ten).  After battling the Buckeyes (18-7, 9-4) for four sets Friday, the Badgers face No. 3 Penn State on Sunday in a match that will air live on ESPN2.

“It’s a very good Ohio State team, obviously, but you wish it could have gone to a fifth,” he said. “With the momentum we built in the third and fourth set, you’d like to think we could have pulled one off on the road.”

UW was in position to steal a road win thanks to 13 kills from junior Julie Mikaelsen and 10 from senior Alexis Mitchell. Sophomore Courtney Thomas tallied her 13th double-double of the season with 38 assists and 11 digs, while sophomore Deme Morales dropped in a career-high three service aces.

Wisconsin hit .144 for the match, while Ohio State posted a .293 hitting percentage.

The Buckeyes assumed command of the match early, putting the Badgers in an 0-2 hole heading into the third set. That’s been bad news this season for Wisconsin, which fell to 0-5 on the year when dropping the first two sets.

Still, the Badgers mounted a strong response with their backs against the wall. After falling behind early in the frame, UW battled back with a 7-3 run that resulted in a 10-8 lead that forced the Buckeyes to take a timeout.

The lead swelled to 15-10 on the service of Mikaelsen before the Buckeyes went back on the offensive to draw within 15-13. When the Badgers responded by pushing their lead to five again, at 19-14, Ohio State once again used a timeout to stem the tide.

A Morales kill made it 21-15 before Ohio State won a long rally that could have turned momentum in the hosts’ favor. Instead, the Badgers held strong and pushed their lead to 23-17.

A surge from the Buckeyes left the Badgers unable to convert on their first three chances at set point, and Waite used a timeout to regroup. Ohio State still scored the next two points to draw within 24-23, but Davionna DiSalvatore launched her serve into the net to give the Badgers the set -- and some new life.

The momentum carried over as UW jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth set, putting the Buckeyes on their heels by putting down four kills with their first seven attacks. OSU had a response, however, going on a 10-3 run that gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the set at 13-12.

Wisconsin didn’t stay down for long, rallying to take the lead at 16-15. The advantage swelled to 21-19 on a kill by Thomas and 22-20 on a kill by Ellen Chapman.

The Buckeyes got a kill down the line from Mari Hole to tie things up at 24-24, but an attack error by Hole on the next point gave UW another chance at set point. UW tied things again at 25-25 before Mikaelsen blasted a kill to put UW on the verge of forcing a fifth set.  

That’s when Ohio State got a kill from Kaitlyn Leary to even things up once again, at 26-26. But, once again, the Badgers answered – this time with a kill by Mitchell.

A service error by Morales tied things up once more, but the Badgers took a 28-27 lead on a bad set by the Buckeyes.

That proved to be the last mistake for OSU, which tied things at 28-28 on a Mariah Booth kill and then took a 29-28 lead on a soft shot by Amanda Peterson that found an opening in the Badgers’ defense.

Petersen finished things off with a kill that gave the Buckeyes the win, as well as a 16-15 edge in the teams’ all-time series in Columbus.

“We stepped up and got more disciplined with everything we did,” Waite said. “I did like what I saw in the third and most of the fourth, but Ohio State put on a big surge to finish it off at the end.”

The Buckeyes’ attack was lethal in the opening set, as Ohio State posted a .500 hitting percentage while pounding down 15 kills -- against a single hitting error -- to walk away with a 25-16 win.

The Badgers, meanwhile, managed a .188 hitting percentage in the opening frame. That number dropped in the second set, with UW hitting just .095 to help the offense-minded Buckeyes put the set away, 25-15, and take what seemed like a commanding lead in the match.

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