Ohio State women’s volleyball will open its six-game road swing this weekend with a three-pack of matchups in Pittsburgh.
The Buckeyes (2-1) take on No. 10 Pittsburgh (3-0) Friday before facing Duquesne (2-1) and Green Bay (4-0) on Saturday in Pittsburgh’s home facilities, PPG Paints Arena and Fitzgerald Field House.
Ohio State freshman setter Cecilia Rocafort, who just got used to playing in the Covelli Center as a San Juan, Puerto Rico, native, said playing on the road will require adjustments for herself and the team.
“For the away games, I just want to keep focused on my team,” Rocafort said. “I know for the first game, we’ll be in Pittsburgh so we’ll be hearing, ‘Hail to Pitt,’ but I want to make sure the crowd doesn’t get to me.”
Senior outside hitter Ana Beatriz Franklin is coming into this weekend with three years of experience and said she is excited about the first away matches of the season.
“I think they’re really fun,” Franklin said. “We play against each other every day so we’re really used to what we do, but getting to see how other teams behave themselves in their home court is really exciting and knowing that that’s the Final Four venue, which is obviously our goal.”
Ohio State faces the challenge of playing two undefeated teams on the road.
In Pittsburgh, Ohio State faces its first ranked opponent of the year. The Panthers are coming off a 30-2 2018 season and boast big hitters in junior outside attacker Kayla Lund and senior setter Nika Markovic. Pittsburgh has dropped just two games at home in the past two seasons.
Ohio State’s large roster, with 19 players, contributes to a deep bench, Franklin said. This depth will be important as they take on Duquesne, Green Bay and Pittsburgh in a two-day span.
Rocafort said the team is also looking to increase communication and grow together as a unit.
“The passers have been really focused on their voice. The pins [outside hitters] have been focused on getting us, the setters, feedback on every play,” Rocafort said. “We have eight out of 19 team players that are new so we’re just becoming a family.”
The Buckeyes will take this weekend one match at a time, treating all teams with a fresh perspective.
“The first team we’re up against, we’ll treat them like the most important one and once we pass that, we’ll focus on the second one and then focus on the third one,” Franklin said.
With this perspective in mind, the team is still using the start of the season to continue to grow and get any kinks out of their game play as they move further into the season.
“It’s the beginning of the season so we’re still growing a lot. We try to take one game at a time,” Franklin said. “Hopefully we’ll come out with three wins. That would be awesome. But we’re just looking to grow.”