Ohio State senior middle blocker Elle Sandbothe (19) hits the ball over the net during the game against Michigan on Oct. 6. Ohio State lost 0-3. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

Ohio State women’s volleyball hasn’t won back-to-back matches in six weeks, and winning its next doesn’t get any easier with two top ten matchups looming ahead.

The Buckeyes (12-12, 5-7 Big Ten) are coming off a win over Maryland, but run into No. 4 Wisconsin (16-4, 12-0) and No. 6 Minnesota on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

No matter which Big Ten team the Buckeyes play, they are going into the match with the mentality of “win or go home,” in preparation for a potential Big Ten tournament run, head coach Geoff Carlston said. 

“We have to go into every match like it’s the NCAA tournament, and it’s one and done,” Carlston said. “We’ll have that mentality with every match moving forward because when you get to the tournament, that’s the reality.”

The Buckeyes have seen the fruits of their labor after spending much of the early season working on timing for outside attacks. Now, the focus has shifted to the other positions in the front row to convert those swings into kills, Carlston said. 

“We’re trying to do as much teaching as we can,” Carlston said. “There’s a lot of lessons to be learned during the game, like how to compete and handling the external stuff, but now we need to get back to working on timing.”

Converting swings into skills is not an area in which Wisconsin struggles. It is currently leading the Big Ten in hitting percentage and service aces and is ranked No. 2 in total kills. Junior middle hitter Dana Rettke will be a player to watch Friday, as she leads the team with 244 kills on the season. 

“I think we’re going to have to do what we do at our best level and minimize mistakes because they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Carlston said. “The thing that makes them so good is they are very good at passing. They’re going to come in ready to rock ’n’ roll.”

Senior libero Tiffany Clark is leading the Badger defense with 250 digs and a .964 receiving percentage. The team is fifth in the conference in digs. 

After the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin, they face a familiar foe in Minnesota, which beat Ohio State Oct. 30. While practice this week has mainly focused on Wisconsin, Moore said the team will still be working for a different result against the Golden Gophers.

“They’re not going to play the same that they did when we first played them,” Moore said. “The result is definitely going to be different. We’re hoping for us to come out on top this time and use what we saw when we played them and use it to our advantage.”

Moore said the Buckeyes are excited to have a home-court advantage and use it to take on these two challenging teams. 

Ohio State will have its shot against Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Friday and Minnesota for the second time at noon Sunday, both in the Covelli Center.