LEXINGTON, Ky. — Ohio State and Kentucky have not played one another since the Wildcats defeated the Buckeyes in four sets in the 2012 NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, in Lexington, Ky.
But after two years have gone by, each team has changed. And with that comes a chance at redemption.
OSU and Kentucky are scheduled to square off Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament after the Buckeyes swept Lipscomb on Friday.
The No. 13 Wildcats were 15-3 in the 2014-15 regular season at Memorial Coliseum, but against ranked competition, things didn’t go their way.
Playing five ranked teams this season, the Wildcats went 1-4, including a 1-2 record against ranked opponents at home. Their losses at home came to then-No. 6 USC and then-No. 7 Florida, while they swept then-No. 22 Texas A&M at home on Oct. 5.
The No. 18 Buckeyes are 4-7 against ranked opponents on the season, and were 1-5 on the road in those games. Their lone ranked win on the road came against then-No. 8 Nebraska on Oct. 4 in five-sets.
Now with OSU and the Wildcats set to face-off on Kentucky’s home court, both teams will have to adjust after playing a night earlier.
“Fatigue is always something I worry about,” Buckeye coach Geoff Carlston said. “But I think we’ve done a pretty good job as a group of coaches, to taper a little bit, in terms of how we’re lifting and how we’re going about the length of practices … it’s a necessity in the Big Ten. So I think our team is pretty fresh. We’re as healthy as we’ve been, for a long time, so the kids will be ready.”
OSU hasn’t played in a back-to-back since Nov. 7-8, when it faced Maryland and Rutgers. On the other side, the Wildcats haven’t played in a back-to-back, since they played in the Carolina Classic Sept. 12-13.
Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said his team can adjust to the Buckeyes’ style of play, even though they haven’t played them this year.
“Because we’ve gone through game plans thirty- some times this year, there’s going to be a lot of things that we’re going to say that they’ve already done,” Skinner said. “We’re not going to tell them things that they haven’t executed before. There’s not enough turnaround time. We’re going to give them information that we’ve executed on certain teams in the past, and let us go after it, see where it falls.
Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal commented on the possibility of OSU and the Wildcats playing before the second match Friday, between Kentucky and Oakland. One thing he said OSU needed to pay attention to is the play of Wildcats’ middle blockers.
“I think that what you’ve seen out of Kentucky, as of late, especially with (freshman middle blocker) Kaz Brown, is more middle play and a lot more middle attacks,” Rosenthal said. “And I think that Ohio State’s gonna have to focus on that a little bit more. Obviously, everybody wants to focus on (senior outside hitter Lauren) O’Conner and what she can do. I think that’s gonna be fun to see as the outsides go at it. (Junior outside hitter Shelby) Workman on the outside does a real nice job.”
Against the Golden Grizzlies, O’Conner led all players in kills with 14, followed by Brown with 10. Workman provided six digs and three kills.
One category that the Wildcats seemed to struggle in against the Golden Grizzlies, was service errors, in which the team had 11.
The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.