The No. 11 Ohio State men’s volleyball team hopes to end its two-match skid this weekend when it takes on George Mason (3-1) and Erskine (0-4) at St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes return to Columbus following tough road losses against then-No. 5 BYU and then-No.11 Stanford.
Ohio State played close matches, with each of those seven sets won by five points or fewer.
Head coach Pete Hanson said that looking at these matches as only losses is missing the point.
“Yeah, two losses, but two losses in January against two teams that are legitimately top 10 teams are not anything to panic about,” Hanson said. “We played them close, we played in hostile environments and we’ve got young guys.”
Redshirt senior middle blocker Blake Leeson is still adapting to his leadership role among the young middle blockers, this being the first year he’s the oldest in the position.
“I feel more responsibility in terms of making sure all the guys are on the same page and living out the set of expectations that the guys before me did,” Leeson said. “I try to provide that support, letting them know it’s a long season and one or two games isn’t going to dictate this whole season.”
On Friday, the Buckeyes will face a George Mason team coming off a four-set loss to No. 3 UC Irvine.
The Patriots are led by junior opposite hitter Hayden Wagner, who leads the team with 63 kills and 4.50 kills per set. Wagner brings the distinction of Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Offensive Player of the Week into the matchup against the Buckeyes.
On Saturday, the Buckeyes will take on Erskine, who’s still searching for its first win this season through four matches.
If Ohio State wants to get back in the win column this weekend, they’ll have to do so with a different starting lineup.
Junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss is expected to sit out this weekend due to a concussion sustained during practice this week. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore outside hitter Kyle Skinner.
Skinner, who replaced Devilbiss in the third set of the match against Stanford, said he’s ready to step up whenever his team needs him.
“Whenever I get in, it’s an opportunity for me to perform and show the coaches what I can do,” Skinner said. “Being on the court a lot more this weekend will give me a chance to show not only that I can come in and make a difference, but that I can stay in the game and make a difference throughout the entire match.”
Ohio State takes on George Mason at 7 p.m. on Friday and Erskine at 7 p.m. on Saturday.