In its final home series of the season, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team will host No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota this weekend at St. John Arena.
The team has four matches remaining on its schedule that will mean a lot for its postseason hopes.
“If we win our next four matches, which obviously is a daunting task, but if we do it, then we will actually make the [Big Ten] tournament so we’re still in that mode a little bit,” head coach Geoff Carlston said.
The competition will be tough for Ohio State. Minnesota is on a 17-match win streak, and is 22-2 and 16-0 in the Big Ten, while Wisconsin is 18-6 and 11-5 in conference play.
The Buckeyes have lost 10 of its past 11 matches.
“We’re really trying to educate and help this young group understand what it’s going to take to win,” Carlston said. “We’ve laid out three to five benchmarks that we’re going to try to lock in in our last four matches.”
Carlston specified error percentage and opponent hitting percentage as “benchmark statistics” the team will focus on for the remainder of the season and into next year.
The Buckeyes’ focus will be tested against Wisconsin sophomore middle blocker Dana Rettke, who leads the Badgers with 344 kills and 133 blocks.
“She’s able to get the ball even when the pass isn’t there,” Ohio State sophomore middle blocker Lauren Witte said. “They force balls to her. She’s 6-foot-8 so she can get on top of our blocks, which is something that our defense is going to have to work around.”
Senior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson has been starting for Minnesota for the past four years. She has 937 assists and 26 service aces this season.
“If she’s not there, that’s a different team,” Carlston said. “You have a four-year starting setter who’s been running the offensive flow. That’s a pretty big benefit for any attacker. That’s basically your quarterback running the show. Having someone like that for four years and never missing a match is a big deal.”
The Buckeyes will continue to build on their experience in the upcoming years. The team signed four players on Wednesday to join the 2019 squad: Gabby Gonzales, Reilly MacNeill, Kylie Murr and Mac Podraza.
Witte said the team will be young again next season, but still have experience in its favor.
“We might be young on paper but the fact that sophomores and freshmen had such a big year this year experience-wise, they won’t seem as young,” Witte said. “They got so much playing time that they’ll be ready for next year.”
The Buckeyes will host both teams at St. John Arena. Ohio State faces Wisconsin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Saturday.