An anticipated rematch against Indiana (12-7, 3-5 Big Ten) and a match against Purdue (15-4, 4-4 Big Ten) are keeping the Ohio State women’s volleyball team focused this week.
Ohio State lost three straight sets against the Hoosiers earlier in the season, but head coach Geoff Carlston said the team is prepared to bounce back.
“It was one of the toughest losses I’ve dealt with in the past five or six years,” Carlston said. “We’re going to be a little different team in terms of personnel. Hopefully we can have Audra [Appold] and Madison [Smeathers] playing. Having them on the floor adds a lot of experience.”
Senior outside hitter Audra Appold returned to the court last weekend against Michigan State after a one-game absence due to injury.
“People keep asking me what I’m most looking forward to about playing again and I keep saying the same thing. I’m just really excited to be back out there,” Appold said. “I’m enjoying the time I have left. The biggest thing for the team right now is to enjoy being out there, to take in the crowd and the environment.”
Junior middle blocker Madison Smeathers has played on and off throughout the season, but the two had not played together until both played in the previous match against the Spartans.
Smeathers shared her personal motivation, one that stands both on and off the court.
“You can always look around at other teams in the Big Ten and see what other people are doing,” Smeathers said. “That keeps you hungry. Losing obviously is a big killer that keeps you going, and so is coming into practice knowing how much better you can get every day.”
The two players got right back to it as Smeathers knocked 13 kills in her first match back, and Appold had 11 digs.
Purdue setter redshirt freshman Hayley Bush has contributed 788 out of the 900 total team assists. Carlston noted that Purdue is a “super physical team” with experienced players.
“One of the crazy things about the Big Ten is that all the coaches realize that you have to be fluid and adapt to new game plans because teams will realize what you’re doing and use that against you,” Carlston said.
Ohio State will hit the road on Friday to face Indiana at 7 p.m. in Bloomington, Indiana and Purdue on Sunday at 1 p.m. in West Lafayette, Indiana.