Buckeye womens volleyball need victories to keep NCAA hopes alive

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) serves the ball during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographerThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team will be playing for more than a win when it takes the court against No. 20 Illinois.OSU (16-12, 4-12) is fighting for a berth in the NCAA Tournament this season, after dropping 10 of their last 12 matches.“Right now, we’re fighting to get into the tournament,” junior defensive specialist Alyssa Winner said.The Buckeyes are scheduled for a chance to better their ranking as they host two Big Ten opponents this weekend. OSU is set to play No. 20 Illinois at 7 p.m. Friday before welcoming Northwestern for an 8:30 p.m. match Saturday.“This weekend we need to win, period,” sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell said. “We need to come out with two wins, and we’re working really hard this week to get them.”OSU has experienced both positive and negative streaks so far this season. The Buckeyes started off with 13 straight wins, before losing two, winning one and then losing eight consecutive matches. Since then, OSU is 2-2, but still searching for a boost.Beyond looking to increase their chances at making the NCAA Tournament, the players will be aiming to honor three departing seniors on the squad as well.Seniors outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, libero Davionna DiSalvatore and defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo, will be honored during Senior Night against Illinois.Sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits said sending her teammates out on top would mean a lot.“A couple weeks ago, we decided we are absolutely playing for our seniors,” she said. “We don’t want their careers to be done. We love our team and we don’t want it to be over yet.“Ending on a positive note would be a positive for everybody.”Leary said her time has gone by “really fast,” but she is looking forward to facing the Illini and Wildcats.“We’ve had a good week of practice, so I’m excited to see what our team can do,” Leary said. “They’re two really big games for us and we just need to take one game at a time.”While Senior Night will have already passed, the three veterans are not scheduled to play their final home games until Nov. 27 when OSU hosts No. 2 Penn State. After taking on the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes are scheduled to wrap up their 2013 regular season with a road match against Iowa Nov. 30.

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