The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (12-11, 5-7 Big Ten) hits the road this weekend after its four-match homestand to face No. 8 Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Friday and No. 5 Minnesota at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Buckeyes will have to prepare for a tough match against Wisconsin as the Badgers currently rank third in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.299), assists (13.42) and blocks (2.80). Wisconsin freshman middle blocker Dana Rettke, fourth in the country with a .453 attack percentage, is a player the Buckeyes will have to keep their eyes on.
The last time the Buckeyes and the Badgers saw each other was during the 2016 NCAA Tournament Regional semifinals in a heated match where Ohio State lost 3-2.
Senior outside hitter Ashley Wenz believes while both teams will prove to be formidable challenges, Ohio State will need to take it one game at a time and focus on itself rather than its opponents.
“[We need to be] working on our own personal game and focusing … and then using that to play against them,” Wenz said. “We’re going to focus on Wisconsin first and then Minnesota.”
Ohio State has already played No. 5 Minnesota once this season on Oct. 18, when the Buckeyes lost 3-0 to the Golden Gophers. The Golden Gophers are currently on a nine-match winning streak, and lead the conference with 14.51 kills, 13.70 assists and 16.58 kills per set.
Sophomore middle blocker Madison Smeathers knows her team plays best when the players come together as a team.
“I think we’re just going to focus on ourselves a lot this week,” Smeathers said. “If we focus on our side of the net then the game will take care of itself.”
Smeathers added that although the Buckeyes believe they can improve on everything, they continue to focus on their serving game, which has proven to be a weak spot on the team.
Wenz has taken a big leadership role on her team as a senior, and said she has been working towards being the teammate the other girls can look to at any time.
“[I try to] be a steady body for our team, a steady person to go to,” Wenz said. “The numbers we have are what we have, so [I’m] just focusing on making sure that I bring what I need to bring every single day.”
Although the Buckeyes haven’t had the most successful 2017 campaign, the team remains confident in one another, and still believes it can execute certain plays in difficult moments.
“I think we move around the court with a lot of confidence, like almost a little swag to ourselves where we know no matter what the other team does we gain control on our side … and play our game,” Smeathers said.