The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (11-7, 2-4 Big Ten) takes on the state of Michigan in a weekend-long battle as the women’s volleyball team welcomes No. 13 Michigan and Michigan State to St. John arena this weekend.
The Wolverines bring the most impressive record the Buckeyes have faced this season at 15-2, and 4-2 within the conference. The Spartans stand at 14-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten.
“The Big Ten is all kind of beating each other up right now. Each weekend can flip everything so this is a big weekend for us, we’re excited for it,” head coach Geoff Carlston said.
The Michigan teams bring impressive players, with each of their top attackers leading the teams with 225 kills, compared to the leading Buckeye, freshman opposite hitter Vanja Bukilić, with 199.
Michigan senior outside hitter and team captain Carly Skjodt poses a threat to the Buckeyes, and according to Carlston, the rest of the Big Ten as well.
“She’s tough man, she has all the shots, she grinds, she’s definitely one of their leaders,” Carlston said. “There’s lots of great outside hitters but her back-row attack is maybe one of the best in the conference.”
Skjodt received Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 8, along with two other award-winning Wolverines. Senior libero Jenna Lerg earned Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week and junior MacKenzi Welsh earned Big Ten Conference Co-Setter of the Week.
“There’s always a big sense of rivalry between us and Michigan and they’ve been playing well so obviously we need to raise the stakes a little bit,” said freshman defensive specialist Camryn Moeller.
Carlston agreed the heightened rivalry changes the dynamic of the match.
“We feel it like everyone does,” he said. “We’ve beaten them most of the time hear, and they’ve beaten us there. The environment is huge so we’re hoping to have this place rocking for sure on Friday. It’s a big match for both of us.”
With a large number of player injuries this season, the Buckeyes have not enjoyed the consistency of any one lineup. The team and staff continue to work on communication and comfort on the court.
“As a staff we’re trying to be more creative and do different things to keep it fresh,” said Carlston. “The chemistry on the floor is so important. You have to really be comfortable with the people to your left and right and that’s been tough because we haven’t had that ability to have the same group on the floor this year.”
Ohio State will face Michigan on Friday at 7 p.m. and Michigan State on Sunday at 1 p.m. for Ohio State’s Dig Pink match to honor breast cancer survivors.