Following a trip to the West Coast, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team will try and earn a win after losing three straight when the Buckeyes travel to Missouri to take on Lindenwood Friday, and Quincy on the road in Illinois Saturday.
The Buckeyes (4-8, 0-2) are looking for their first win since their four-set victory against Lincoln Memorial at home on Feb. 2. They’ve lost nine straight sets since then to then-unranked Purdue Fort Wayne, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara and No. 1 Long Beach State.
Ohio State is also going for its first league win after losses to the Mastodons and then-No. 13 Ball State earlier this season.
Head coach Pete Hanson said he’s trying to get his young team to find ways to keep momentum when the match is on the line.
“We’re still just making some young errors at really critical times that can keep momentum going,” Hanson said. “A lot of times, that’s what this game is all about: Can you keep a scoring run going or can you stop a scoring run by the other team? We’re just struggling to kind of find ways to get those two things accomplished and a lot of that is youth right now.”
Both the Lions and the Hawks share identical records with the Buckeyes.
Lindenwood (4-8, 0-2) comes into the match on Friday fresh off losses to No. 10 Lewis and then-No. 8 Loyola Chicago. The Lions are led by redshirt sophomore Charley Hlavin, who has accounted for 103 kills, 52 digs and six aces this season.
The Lions and the Buckeyes have had two common opponents this season: Penn State and Saint Francis. Both teams are 1-1, with the Buckeyes having beaten Penn State at home, while the Lions have a five-set road win against the the Red Flash.
Quincy (4-8, 0-2) will face the Buckeyes Saturday after having played against league foe McKendree two nights before. The Hawks are currently on their own three-match losing streak, featuring straight-set defeats against then-No. 8 Loyola Chicago and No. 10 Lewis and a four-set loss to Lourdes.
The Hawks are led by junior outside hitter Omari Wheeler, who has amassed 160 kills, 60 digs and eight aces this season.
Both the Buckeyes and the Hawks fell in straight-sets to their only common opponent: No. 1 Long Beach State.
Ohio State will have to lean on the youth on its roster to come up big this weekend. Injuries to major contributors such as senior setter Sanil Thomas and sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes have given some younger players more opportunities.
Freshman outside hitter Jack Stevens, a serving specialist for the Buckeyes, said he’s been learning a lot from the upperclassmen about how to adjust to playing at the collegiate level.
“All the older guys have taught me a lot about just the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at this level, whether it’s in the practice gym, the weight room, or in the classroom,” Stevens said. “All these guys have been working hard for four or five years. It’s really cool to learn from them.”
Ohio State will face Lindenwood at 8 p.m. Friday in Saint Charles, Missouri, and Quincy at 8 p.m. Saturday in Quincy, Illinois.