The No. 9 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (11-4, 4-2 MIVA) will be back on the road for the second consecutive weekend to challenge McKendree (6-8, 3-3 MIVA) after being upset twice last weekend by Lewis in straight sets and Loyola in five sets.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson feels the Buckeyes will be well prepared given the intense focus the team has shown during practice leading up to the weekend.
“This is their third day of practice. We’ll travel tomorrow and then we’ll have a serve and pass on Friday before the match,” Hanson said. “I think the focus has been really good. I think they understand what’s in front of them.”
Since joining the MIVA in 2015, McKendree has played Ohio State six times. In each contest, the Buckeyes beat the Bearcats in three or four sets.
Despite being one of the younger teams in the conference, the Bearcats have had several upperclassmen recognized for their strong starts to the campaign. McKendree’s senior outside hitter Jared Wilcox, junior libero Zach Thompson and senior middle blocker Brendan Schmidt have all been recognized with conference accolades this season.
Hanson said he’s looking out for Schmidt and Bearcat senior outside hitter Nolan Rueter, and that it comes down to being able to control McKendree’s offense with serving and blocking. The Bearcats rank tenth in the country in assists per set.
After back-to-back losses, Ohio State dropped four spots from fifth to ninth in NCAA rankings. However, the Buckeyes are still early in the season, and Hanson said the team must avoid letting the losing streak affect the rest of the campaign since it still has much left for which to play.
“I told the guys after the match on Saturday night, ‘Look we’ve lost three five-set matches, and two of them by four points. We could be sitting here talking about a whole different scenario and not crying in our milk or worried about things or hanging our heads. You’re four points away from being 13-2 instead of 11-4,’” Hanson said.
The Buckeyes will play the Bearcats at 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night.