After seeing its 11-match winning streak snapped in a five-set loss to No. 21 Minnesota on Wednesday, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team has another tough test on the itinerary this weekend.
The 12th-ranked Buckeyes (11-2, 0-1) will welcome No. 16 Wisconsin (8-3, 0-1) to St. John Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. as Big Ten play continues.
Following a loss in their first match of the year against Western Kentucky, the Badgers went on an eight-game winning streak that was ultimately snapped in their final nonconference game by Arkansas. Much like OSU, the Badgers are coming off of a loss to a ranked foe, as they were swept by top-ranked Penn State on Wednesday.
“They’re a team that got a lot of their parts back,” OSU coach Geoff Carlston said. “But they’re like a lot of us, they’re trying to figure out exactly how to replace the kids that were there last year.”
Wisconsin lost four key players from last season, three of which — outside hitter Courtney Thomas, middle blocker Dominique Thompson and outside hitter Ellen Chapman — were named second-team or honorable mention all-Americans at some point in their collegiate careers.
This year’s team is led by junior setter Lauren Carlini, who was named to the preseason all-Big Ten team for the second year in a row and was the only setter to earn the honor. Carlini currently leads the conference in assists per set (11.79), and her assist rate ranks fourth in the country.
Last year, Wisconsin was the team that ended OSU’s tournament run in the Sweet 16 in a tight five-set match.
Carlston downplayed the notion of getting revenge against the Badgers this weekend, but his players did not.
“It’s a lot of the same players and we all hold grudges and keep things in the back of our minds,” sophomore outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said. “They’re probably bitter that they lost to Penn
State in the next round, and we’re bitter that we lost to them, so it’ll be a fun match.”
Senior middle blocker Andrea Kacsits said losing is never fun, regardless of the history between the two teams. However, she admitted there’s an element of payback for OSU against Wisconsin.
“I want to end this because I don’t like how we ended the tournament last year,” Kacsits said.
OSU lost all three games against Wisconsin last season, getting swept twice in the regular season before its five-set NCAA tournament loss.
“They kicked our butts in the regular season,” Carlston said. “They kicked our butts last time we played (at St. John Arena). So I think we may be able to use that a little bit and say, ‘Hey guys, they came into our house last time and knocked us around. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.’”
The Badgers have a slight advantage in the all-time matchup (37-34), but the teams have been evenly matched (16-16) when squaring off in St. John Arena.
In their third of four straight home games to begin the Big Ten season, the Buckeyes are scheduled to host Iowa in St. John Arena on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.