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Women’s Volleyball: The Buckeyes hit the road again to face No. 6 Illinois and Northwestern

Members of Ohio State women’s volleyball team celebrate a point scored against No. 2 Penn State on Oct. 6. The Buckeyes lost 3-2. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern Reporter

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (10-7, 3-3 Big Ten) will hope to find better success this weekend when it travels for a pair of games in Illinois against No. 6 Illinois Friday and Northwestern Saturday after dropping its last two matches to Penn State and Rutgers.

Last season, the Buckeyes beat Northwestern both games in their home-and-home series. Ohio State defeated the Wildcats in a 3-0 sweep at St. John Arena and beat them again in a 3-1 match in Evanston, Illinois.

The Buckeyes have won two of the last three contests between the two teams, but lost to the Illini 3-1 last season. Illinois leads the all-time series with a 41-38 record with games between both teams taking place since 1974.

Ohio State has been more successful against Northwestern as it has defeated the Wildcats in the last fives matches.

Ohio State associate head coach Susan Halverson-Maloney has been practicing with the Buckeyes, focusing on their serve-and-pass as they prepare to go up against two teams she knows play a strong defense and serving game.

“Both teams are similar to us in that they’re battling in the Big Ten right now. [They have] a lot of matches going long, a lot of sets going long,” Halverson-Maloney said.  “For us it’s about staying in each point, refocusing after each point, winning the long rallies.”

Halverson-Maloney believes that the key to having a successful weekend is to find consistency and maintain the same level of play with every game.

“[We are] just looking to our leadership to keep us consistent on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, trying to find our edge and our push in tight moments,” Halverson-Maloney said.

Last weekend was one of sophomore outside hitter Bia Franklin’s most impressive performances as she hit 10 kills and nine digs in Friday night’s game against No. 2 Penn State. Both numbers were career-highs for Franklin.

“I just did what the team needed and they helped me,” Franklin said. “It was really nice and natural, I didn’t really think about it.”

With some of the players facing continuous injuries, Halverson-Maloney said the Buckeyes have collectively tried to step up their performance.

“They’ve been flexible, they’ve been competitive, willing to do anything for the team,” Halverson-Maloney said. “We’ve had great response from every position. They’re enjoying the newness of the lineup and trying to work out and problem-solve together.”

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