It’s going to be a long weekend in Michigan for Ohio State’s women’s volleyball team.
This weekend was the toughest last year, and coach Geoff Carlston anticipates many of the same challenges.
After falling short to Penn State last week at home, the Buckeyes face two top-ranked Big Ten teams this weekend.
No. 14 Michigan State’s 14-4 record matches that of the Buckeyes. However, the Spartans fell to the unranked Iowa Hawkeyes, 3-0, while the Buckeyes swept Iowa, 3-0.
The Spartans’ inability to compete with Iowa exposed a weakness the Buckeyes will attempt to take advantage of.
“Our focus is still on our side of the net because that we control,” Carlston said.
The Buckeyes take more risks offensively and maintain a strong middle. Once established, this opens the offense to more aggressive play. Quick decisions and few mistakes give the Buckeyes an edge over the Spartans.
With a quick turn-around, the Buckeyes face No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday night. The Wolverines are also working on a quick turnaround, as they will face No. 1 Penn State Friday night.
Carlston knows the quick turn-around is tough on the players, especially on the road. Their top priority is to re-group and get as much rest as possible.
Without a practice between the two matches, the team will have to mentally address weaknesses and keep defensive strategies strong, Carlston said.
Despite the NCAA rankings, the Buckeyes and the Wolverines may be more evenly matched than it appears. Michigan is 16-3, while the Buckeyes are 14-4. Both teams fell to Big Ten powerhouses Illinois and Wisconsin.
Both teams also have a mix of young players, which they work to incorporate into the core of game play.
“Our athleticism is putting us in the mix with the top teams in the conference,” Carlston said.
OSU takes on Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Bucks travel to Ann Arbor Saturday to face Michigan at 7 p.m.