Ohio State women’s volleyball is seeking a more consistent lineup in its final nonconference games ahead of Big Ten play.
Coming off a 1-2 weekend, the Buckeyes (4-5) will take on Miami (Ohio) (4-4) Thursday, and Illinois State (7-2) and Dayton (5-5) on Friday.
With injuries causing lineup changes this past weekend, Ohio State is looking to define its chemistry on the court going into its next games. Utilizing the depth of its bench, practice this week has been important in determining the starters.
“I think there are some key positions where there’s a good battle going on and there’s a competitiveness in our gym that I really enjoy,” head coach Geoff Carlston said.
With the battle for positions in practice comes an eye for who plays well together, and Carlston is using this practice time to play out gamelike six-on-six situations to find that connection.
Ohio State seeks to establish solid game play that stands up to high-pressure situations, Carlston said. Playing against strong teams requires a level of rhythm that the team has yet to establish.
“We just want to play consistently, no going up and down in intensity,” sophomore opposite side hitter Vanja Bukilic said. “We want to play constant volleyball.”
Ohio State also needs to increase its number of kills immediately following an opposing serve and control the offense, Carlston said. This issue, however, comes with a sense of urgency as the Buckeyes look to fix this before the weekend’s Big Ten matches, which Carlston said is necessary for the upcoming tournament.
And moments of pressure are sure to arise this weekend. The Thursday match will hold the added intensity of being a night game against an in-state opponent.
With a .500 record so far this season, Miami is supplying a threat at the net with senior middle hitter Margaret Payne, who already has 70 kills on the season.
The pressure will continue, as the Buckeyes have a quick turnaround when they play Illinois State the next morning.
“It’s a lot of volleyball in a short amount of time,” Carlston said. “We play at 10 a.m. against Illinois State who just beat Illinois. They beat Central Florida so they’re really playing great volleyball right now.”
The Redbirds’ winning record is supported by junior outside hitter Kaylee Martin, who leads her team with 140 kills, and junior libero Kendal Meier, who has racked up 153 digs so far this season.
Yet the morning game against Illinois State does not have the added weight of a Friday night match. That sort of pressure belongs to the Buckeyes’ 8 p.m. match against Dayton.
“I think that Friday night is going to be more interesting than Thursday,” Bukilic said. “We always play with Dayton in five sets, and it’s always intense so I expect Friday to be more pumping.”
Dayton has just one more win than Ohio State, but the Flyers will come into Friday night with a strong presence at the net in the form of redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jamie Peterson, who has 162 kills in the season.
The 6 p.m. game Thursday and the 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. games Friday will conclude the Buckeye’s nonconference regular season before they head into Big Ten matches.