After its ranking took another hit, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team faces a road test against a highly ranked opponent.
The No. 24 Buckeyes (14-6, 2-6), who were ranked as high as No. 12 earlier this season in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, are scheduled to travel to State College, Pa., for a match against No. 2 Penn State (16-2, 7-1).
OSU is coming off a four-set loss at Illinois, but coach Geoff Carlston said the Buckeyes can take some positives out of the loss as they prepare for the Nittany Lions.
“We played a lot better, we did a lot of good things,” Carlston said. “We just have to keep improving.”
Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said the team needs to stay together as a group and keep working hard every day in practice.
“We just (need to) keep working on the things that we need to on offense and defense and keep saying focused as a team,” she said.
Freshman defensive specialist Valeria León said it will take hard work and a strong performance to beat the Nittany Lions, but that it will be important to relax.
“It will be a great game,” León said. “We have to have fun and stay together and compete.”
Penn State, which advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament, has been one of the more successful teams women’s volleyball teams in recent years. That success includes four-straight national championships from 2007-10.
The Nittany Lions’ strong reputation has stuck with them ever since.
“In a way, they just kind of have that Penn State swag about them because they have been so good these past few years,” senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary said.
Carlston gave credit to the Penn State coaching staff for the team’s continued success.
“They’re the most athletic team in the country,” he said. “(Penn State coach Russ Rose) has done a great job of recruiting ridiculous talent.”
OSU is searching for a change in momentum in Big Ten play, and freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said it would be huge to end the team’s conference struggles against the second ranked team in the nation.
“I’m really excited because it’s Penn State, you always hear that it’s the best team ever,” Sandbothe said. “I think the best part is (that) nobody expects we can do it (win). That’s even more motivation.”
The match at Penn State will end a three game road trip for the Buckeyes. Action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The team is then slated to return home to St. John Arena to host No. 13 Nebraska at 7 p.m Friday.