Ohio State women’s volleyball advanced to the Elite 8 this year, its first trip to the regional final since 2004.
Soon after the Buckeyes lost to eventual champion Texas (25-18, 21-25, 25-13, 25-21), five players from OSU – all seniors – entered the transfer portal.
This included American Setter Mac Podraza and American Freezer Kylie Murr. Outside hitters Gabby Gonzales and Jenaisya Moore would be gone, as would Adria Powell, who has now set a course for Clemson.
It was enough to raise eyebrows.
Why would such highly regarded athletes leave a top-ten program coming off its most successful season in years?
Even those who follow the sport closely, like VolleyballMag.com’s Lee Feinswog, had questions. Looking to get answers, Feinswog invited Podraza to join him for a video chat.
For those who assume the worst, it may have come as a surprise to see that Ohio State coach Jen Flynn Oldenberg was also a guest.
“I have nothing but love and respect for the state of Ohio,” Podraza began. “I never raised a Buckeye. I never thought I’d be a Buckeye. But I couldn’t be happier to be a Buckeye, and I will always be a Buckeye.
“I think it was because I came with these girls, and now it’s been four years, and it’s time for me to leave with these girls. The scholarship money just isn’t there.”
Crucially, the Buckeye seniors were caught up in a rostering crisis caused by the NCAA giving an extra year of eligibility to athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but ending an amnesty for programs that exceed the caps. scholarships after this season.
Podraza admitted that with five freshmen incoming, Ohio State was in an “awkward and strange situation.”
“It’s just how COVID ended up making it go,” she said.
Oldenberg met with each of the seniors after the NCAA Tournament, and there were tears in each meeting as he explained the situation and why he felt it was the way it was.
“If I choose to keep all five on my roster, on scholarship, then I say to the incoming freshman or players in my schedule, ‘Hey, sorry. Not yours anymore,'” he said. “You can, and I had a chance to, and I chose not to — not because I don’t want these five. I want them forever.”
Podraza responded by vowing to return one day, telling Oldenberg, “This won’t be the last time I cry in your office.”
The response didn’t surprise Oldenberg, who believes the departing players have “set us on the path to success” and are contributing to their legacy by leaving in such an elegant and mature way, including all players who have graduated this way. . spring – Podraza, Murr and Gonzales with master.
Podraza isn’t sure of her next destination. She knew it well, though: “I’m taking my Buckeye roots everywhere I go next.”
This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch: OSU Volleyball Explains All-American Player Transfers