After a five-set loss Saturday against No. 20 Purdue, with the final four sets decided within three points, Ohio State (10-10, 3-5 Big Ten) is committed to learning from its mistakes ahead of matchups with Rutgers (6-13, 0-8) and Illinois (9-8, 4-4) this week.
The Buckeyes have defeated Rutgers in all nine matchups since it joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Though Rutgers has lost all of its conference games so far this year, Carlston said Ohio State is preparing its serving game to keep the fast Rutgers offense uncomfortable.
“I think if they’re in-system, they’re really potent,” Carlston said. “If they’re in-system, they’re really physical, really fast offense, so you have to pick your poison.”
The Buckeyes beat Rutgers in straight sets on Oct. 11, and freshman outside hitter Gabby Gonzales said the team is focused on bringing the same intensity and strength so it can secure the second win of the year against them.
“I think we’re expecting a much better game than we had last time,” Gonzales said. “We know that they’re going to want to come back and beat us even more because we beat them the first time.”
Rutgers has won more than six games in a season just once since 2013 and has won only two of the 29 sets it’s played against Ohio State in the past six seasons.
The Scarlet Knights have lost 108 of their 109 Big Ten matches since joining the conference, including 79 in a row.
Ohio State hosts Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Covelli Center.
Ohio State plays Illinois, currently No. 8 in the Big Ten, for the first time this season Sunday.
Illinois provides a threat in senior outside hitter Jacqueline Quade, who is No. 2 in the Big Ten with an average of 4.3 kills per sets received.
Carlston said the Fighting Illini are known for playing well at home, which presents another obstacle for the Buckeyes on the road.
Illinois lost just two of its 17 home games this past year, and is 3-2 in Champaign this season.
The Buckeyes remain optimistic for this week and for the rest of the season, however. They are sticking to a mentality of making every game worthwhile, taking lessons learned from each contest and pushing toward improvement with every match, Gonzales said.
“We always talk about the journey that we’re on, and this journey is unlike any journey we’ve ever been on,” Gonzales said. “Taking all of our wins and losses from before, just kind of continuing and growing upon every single one whether it is a win or a loss. So I guess just trying to finish out this season as best we can.”
Ohio State travels to Illinois for a 6 p.m. match Saturday.