After a tough battle with rival Michigan in Ann Arbor three weeks ago, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team is expecting more of the same when the Wolverines visit Columbus this weekend.
In what OSU coach Geoff Carlston called “a total grind-out match,” the 14th-ranked Buckeyes (21-6, 10-5) defeated Michigan (16-10, 6-9) in four sets in their Oct. 24 meeting, with two sets going to extra points and all four sets being decided by the minimum of two points.
OSU will be going for a sweep of its rivals on Saturday at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.
“It does help knowing that we’ve beat them before, but I think in the second half of the Big Ten, everyone’s a different team,” senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson said. “So we’re still going to prepare for them just like how we would any other team.”
Michigan has been reeling of late, losing its last four games — all against ranked teams — by a combined score of 12 sets to one, but Carlston said he knows the Wolverines will be out for revenge on Saturday.
“Getting them at their place, that motivates them to come here and beat us,” he said. “It’s nice to be home … so we certainly need to take advantage of being in St. John this week.”
In particular, OSU will have its hands full with sophomore outside hitter Caroline Knop, who has averaged nearly five kills per set in her team’s last five matches.
Five seniors will be playing in their final regular-season game against Michigan, including Richardson, outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell, outside hitter Katie Mitchell, middle blocker Andrea Kacsits and setter Emily Ruetter.
The Buckeyes have split their six games with Michigan since Mitchell and Kacsits arrived in 2012, and the two seniors are looking to break that tie on Saturday.
“It’d be nice to finish playing that rival my four years with a win and look back and say, ‘Yeah, we took care of them,’” Mitchell said.
Richardson, who came to Columbus in 2014 after transferring from Middle Tennessee State, said she’s eager to “send them home with an ‘L.’”
Buckeyes get pair of 2016 commits
On Thursday, OSU announced that two high school All-Americans have signed letters of intent to join the Buckeyes next season.
Brooke Bailey, a native of Canton, Ohio, is a 6-foot-2 outside hitter who was named a first-team all-Ohio player in each of the last three seasons while playing for Jackson High School.
Madison Smeathers, of Vargersville, Indiana, plays multiple positions and was an all-Indiana selection the last two years.
In the first of three straight road games, OSU is set to head west to take on Iowa on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Buckeyes won the first matchup of the season against the Hawkeyes in four sets.