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Women’s Volleyball: Ohio State starts home stretch with No. 9 Nebraska

Ohio State junior blocker Madison Smeathers (4) taps the ball to Michigan State on Sunday, Oct. 14 at St. John’s Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Michigan State in 3 matches. Credit: Claire Kudika | Assistant Design Editor

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team returns home on Wednesday to face No. 9 Nebraska. The team will enjoy a home-field advantage for six of its 10 remaining matches.

Nebraska is heading into the game with a record of 15-5 and 6-4 in Big Ten play, losing four of its past five matches. The Buckeyes stand at 12-10 and 3-7 in the Big Ten. Nebraska leads the all-time series against the Buckeyes 13-7, dating back to 1978.

Ohio State head coach Geoff Carlston said the team is working on making improvements after lackluster Big Ten play.

“We are constantly trying to re-evaluate what we need to do,” Carlston said. “In terms of personnel, I think we have the best unit out there, so it’s a matter of being the best at what we can do.”

The Buckeyes have 1,077 kills this season compared with the Cornhuskers with 955.

Nebraska’s freshman middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth nationally with 1.64 blocks per set. 

Carlston said matchups like this against Nebraska is a good way to grow for his team.

“Our young players are maturing, but they’re trying to learn and grow in the middle of the best conference in the country,” Carlston said. “We have a good group across all ages, learning how to compete on the road in a pretty hostile environment. Our kids want to win, and we want to win, but it’s a balance.”

Ohio State sophomore setter Becca Mauer voiced the same focus for the Nebraska match and the rest of the season: decreasing the number of errors.

“One of the biggest things for us to focus on is making the other team make the mistakes,” Mauer said. “A lot of times we are making the mistakes for them. If we limit the errors on our side of the net, the matches, the games, the sets will all go a lot differently. We aren’t giving ourselves a chance to play ball.”

The Buckeyes have 438 attack errors, 193 serve errors, 111 serve reception errors and 44 block errors this season, while the Cornhuskers compare with 335 attack errors, 173 serve errors, 67 serve reception errors and 53 block errors.

“Our Achilles’ heel is our passing errors,” Carlston said. “We want to be able to put the ball away.”

Mauer is determined to make that happen.

“The setters kind of run the offense,”Mauer said. “One of my main goals for the rest of the season is putting my hitters in the best situation possible. This past week we couldn’t really get our hitters going.”

Ohio State will play  Nebraska at St. John Arena at 7 p.m on Wednesday.

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