The No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (9-2, 2-0 MIVA) continues its conference season when it hosts Lindenwood (6-5, 1-3 MIVA) and Quincy (8-5, 0-3 MIVA) Thursday and Sunday.
Lindenwood and Quincy are not top-15 teams and have not started conference play strong, but Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said the team will enter this weekend’s matches with the same mentality as always.
“As an athlete, what we’re going to keep reminding them is, look, regardless of how good or bad the teams you’re playing [are], you can’t look past them,” Hanson said. “It’s important to take care of business and take care of business as quick as possible, particularly on your home court.”
Ohio State senior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen was injured in the team’s game against Ball State Feb. 8, and Hanson said he hopes to get him some rest during the weekend by substituting him out if the Buckeyes take substantial leads.
“If we could get maybe Reese Devilbiss in and let him in and play a couple matches and get some experience and maybe give [Szerszen] some time off from his ankle, that would be a good thing,” Hanson said.
He also said that if the opportunity arises, he would like to get another middle blocker in the mix for some game experience. While he hopes to give different players opportunities, the matches against Lindenwood and Quincy still have potential to pose a challenge for the Buckeyes if they don’t play at the level they are capable.
“Lindenwood beat Loyola last year down at Lindenwood, Quincy took [sixth-ranked] Loyola to five last weekend at Loyola, and so as much as we’d like to think these matches should be relatively easy, there’s absolutely no guarantee and our guys have to come ready to play,” Hanson said.
Szerszen also said the team has to be ready for anything.
“Lindenwood and Quincy are always kind of the underdogs in MIVA overall, so you never know when they can play really well or play OK,” he said. “Quincy could have the game of their season against us, we still have to be able to match their effort.”
The Lions are 6-5, with three losses coming from conference matches. The Lions have averaged a .214 hitting percentage this season. Sophomore outside hitter Michael Jennings and senior outside hitter Nathan Van Dellen have been two of the team’s go-to hitters.
“I think Lindenwood has a fairly accomplished setter, so if they could pass the ball they’ll be able to run an offense, although I don’t think their hitters are quite at the level of our hitters,” Hanson said.
Lindenwood junior setter Adam Brewster averages 10.21 assists per set. Ohio State’s game against Lindenwood begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in St. John Arena.
Looking at its record, Quincy has performed slightly better than Lindenwood overall, with a record of 9-5, but it mirrors Lindenwood in conference play with three loses. In a matchup against Lindenwood on Jan. 20, the Hawks lost 3-1.
Hanson said Quincy might have a style of play similar to last Thursday’s opponent.
“Quincy has always been an opponent that plays hard, that plays good defense, that just kind of wants to continue to rally the ball a little bit like Ball State did last Thursday,” he said.
The Buckeyes’ match against Quincy University will be their last match at St. John Arena until March 29. It begins at 2 p.m. Sunday.