The Ohio State women’s volleyball team is set to kick off Big Ten competition against a ranked opponent on the road.
OSU (9-3) is scheduled to play No. 17 Minnesota (10-1) Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Minneapolis.
While the Buckeyes have won nine of their last 10 games, they are set to face more competitive teams than they have so far this season, starting with the Golden Gophers, who made it to the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball quarterfinals last December.
Last season’s success in the tournament aside, OSU senior defensive specialist Alyssa Winner said Minnesota is always difficult, especially when trying to attack.
“Minnesota has always been physical,” Winner said. “They play all right defense. I would say their blocking is really well, they’re big girls so they know how to defend well.”
The Golden Gophers have won nine straight matches, including three sweeps at the Toledo Tournament held over the weekend. The team’s only loss of the season came in its second match, against Louisville on Aug. 30.
Senior setter Taylor Sherwin said OSU has to be more prepared for the Golden Gophers than other opponents.
“Getting used to the physicality (and) how much more physical the girls will be,” Sherwin said. “We’ve played a lot of great (non-conference teams), but Big Ten, it’s the best of the best.”
Of the six Big Ten teams in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 25 poll, Minnesota is ranked the lowest, but still holds a higher-rating than the unranked Buckeyes.
Freshman defensive specialist Kalisha Goree — who is set to be taking part in the first Big Ten action of her OSU career against the Golden Gophers — said the Buckeyes have to take their performance to a new level for conference play.
“This is Big Ten now, so we’ve gotta step up our play,” Goree said.
Goree added that if called upon during the match, she hopes her passing and defense will help the Buckeyes to an upset victory.
The Buckeyes’ next game is scheduled for Sunday against No. 5 Wisconsin (9-1). The Badgers finished as runners-up in last year’s NCAA Tournament. That match is scheduled for 2 p.m.