The No. 7 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (19-4, 10-2 MIVA) will travel to neighboring Indiana to challenge No. 15 Fort Wayne and No. 12 Ball State Friday and Saturday for the team’s final two regular-season matches of the season.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said he’s feeling good entering this weekend after his team had a pair of dominant outings against Loyola and Lewis with 3-1 and 3-0 victories, respectively.
“Obviously, the hope is, can we take that on the road and can we play in a hostile environment in Fort Wayne on Friday and in Ball State on Saturday and do those same types of things where we don’t have our home crowd, we don’t have that energy to feed off,” Hanson said. “I would like to think that we can.”
The Buckeyes will face the Mastodons (17-9, 5-7 MIVA) Friday for the second time this year. Earlier this season, Fort Wayne’s offensive play was not enough to slow down Ohio State’s robust offense, and the Buckeyes ultimately beat the visitors 3-0 on Feb. 10.
Since then, the Mastodons have dropped seven matches, plummeting to sixth in the eight-team MIVA conference after beginning the season with a 9-0 overall record.
In contrast, the Buckeyes have been more successful, winning 10 of 12 matches and climbing their way to the top of the MIVA ladder.
Ohio State junior setter Sanil Thomas said the Buckeyes can’t take their recent success for granted because he believes Fort Wayne to be a formidable opponent.
“They beat Irvine earlier this year, so you know they can bring it,” Thomas said. “If we don’t prepare well then we can easily get beaten, but I think it’s just good that we had these past two matches to build our confidence in that regard.”
Ohio State will close out its regular season Saturday night when it travels to Muncie, Indiana, to face Ball State (15-11, 8-4 MIVA) in another rematch from earlier in the year. Ohio State won a five-set thriller on Feb. 8 at St. John Arena.
Ball State had an offense rivaling Ohio State’s, but did not pack enough punch to knock out the MIVA leaders. Senior middle blocker Matt Walsh was the Cardinals’ biggest asset, scoring 19 points and a season-high 15 kills in the Ohio State match.
Ball State has found more success than Fort Wayne after the loss, however, winning 10 of its past 15 matches.
“I think we’re playing better than when we played Ball State here in February and I’m not sure if their coach thinks they’ve improved or not improved,” Hanson said. “Their numbers are kind of up and down so I can’t worry about them; I have to worry about Ohio State.”