The No. 19 Ohio State women’s volleyball team is off to Indiana to finish the end of one season – and essentially start another.
The Buckeyes will be playing in their final non-conference matches at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge in Muncie, Indiana, on Friday. OSU will take on Valparaiso University (6-5), University of North Carolina at Greensboro (4-5) and Ball State University (2-9) during the tournament.
These will be OSU’s last nonconference contests before the team dives into its Big Ten season, leading off with No. 6 Wisconsin on Sept. 23.
The team is coming off of two wins and a tough, five-set loss to Missouri State last weekend, but junior outside hitter Ashley Wenz is hopeful OSU will come back even stronger in the team’s final tuneup before the brutal Big Ten conference slate.
“All three opponents are really strong teams. I’m excited to see how we’ll bounce back from this weekend,” said junior outside hitter, Ashley Wenz. “I think that every match we’ve had so far is a learning experience, and I’m excited to take that – what we’ve learned – and apply it to the next three matches.”
The matchup with the Cardinals marks the first game between the two since 1976. OSU has swept Valparaiso in three sets each time the teams have met in the past, and the match against UNCG will be OSU’s first in program history.
OSU’s focus remains on staying in the present moment despite the anticipation of upcoming Big Ten play against the rival Badgers, not to mention their first home match at St. John Arena later in September.
“That’s really going to be our focus this week, knowing how to manage the moments of the games. I thought we struggled with that a little this past weekend,” said Head Coach, Geoff Carlston. “Our focus is on Ball State right now and finishing strong.”
Constant travel can be wearing for some teams, and the Buckeyes are not exempt. They’ve played every weekend away from St. John Arena this season and won’t see a home match for another two weeks. However, the Buckeyes can see a light at the end of their tunnel.
“I love playing on the road. We get to experience a lot of new places … but I am excited to be home again and play in St. John Arena,” said Wenz.
Even if the thought is just in the back of their heads for now, the excitement to play in front of a familiar crowd is a very real feeling for this Buckeye team.
Wenz shared her love for the traditions that come along with playing at St. John. It was also mentioned by her teammate, junior defensive specialist Kalisha Goree.
“I remember my first time running out to St. John and seeing all the little girls and just how excited they were to watch us play,” she said.
Carlston said he is coaching a very hardworking group, and he relies on everyone to step up in a game when needed.
“We need everybody. We need our whole team. That’s going to be a hallmark of our team. It’s going to be something we’re all confident that we have,” he said. “We’re a team that’s going to need all 15 of us and our staff to really keep climbing together.”
Goree added a final statement about her “tribe” to take into this weekend.
“If we’re together as one team, then no one can defeat us,” she said.
OSU will play Valparaiso in their first match of the Ball State Active Ankle Tournament on Friday at noon at John E. Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana.