Ohio State is seeking redemption heading into its second week of Big Ten play, with a Friday match against Michigan State (10-2, 1-1 Big Ten) and a rematch with Michigan (9-3, 2-0) Sunday in Columbus.
The Buckeyes dropped straight sets to the Wolverines in their first matchup this past Sunday, but freshman libero Kylie Murr said they don’t intend on letting it happen again.
“I don’t feel like we gave them the game that was supposed to happen,” Murr said. “I’m really excited to have a second chance because I think while we didn’t necessarily fail at our jobs, we know that we can do them better.”
Ohio State relies heavily on its defensive efforts, specifically Big Ten digs-leader Murr, to keep the offense in sync.
“She’s a leader in the back row for sure, no matter who’s back there,” freshman outside hitter Gabby Gonzales said. “Whether it’s [an outside hitter], a [defensive specialist] or whoever, she runs the show, and I think that’s one of the key components that keeps us in system.”
Murr’s defensive leadership was not enough to carry the Buckeyes through their first match against the Wolverines, but Murr said she feels a renewed energy to provide those passes that fuel the offense and is looking to hold herself accountable in the upcoming matches.
“I know they trust me to get that pass up there so having that trust from them makes me feel so much more confident,” Murr said. “I want them to succeed so I know I have to do my job to the best of my ability.”
Gonzales said the team lacked confidence playing against the Wolverines, who are No. 2 in the conference in hitting percentage and service aces.
After Michigan began to rack up the score, the Buckeyes began to feel the game slip out of their fingers, unable to battle back.
“We just have to be more confident in ourselves and trust that we can beat them no matter what and not be so intimidated by them,” Gonzales said.
Before Michigan, the Buckeyes take on Michigan State Friday at home.
Michigan State will come to the Covelli Center with the Big Ten’s No. 2 overall record following a win against Maryland. However, the Buckeyes have the home-court advantage, which they hope to use to clinch the match.
“Coming in and showing them that this is our house and bringing in a big crowd I think will bring them down a bit,” Gonzales said. “Also, keeping up with the aggression and staying together as a team and fighting together and making sure everyone has a role together.”
Michigan State ranks in the bottom four in the Big Ten in kills, assists and digs, and its team kills leader, junior outside hitter Meredith Norris, is just inside the top 15 in the conference with 3.35 a game.
However, the Spartans are No. 2 in the conference in blocks, which could stifle the Ohio State offense.
Ohio State plays Michigan State at 7 p.m. Friday and Michigan at 1 p.m. Sunday at home.