Ohio State men’s volleyball has lost just one set all season, but it has yet to leave home base.
The Buckeyes (5-0) face their first road challenge of the year this weekend when they go head-to-head with USC (1-4) Friday.
“This weekend will be the biggest test that we’ve had so far. We have to come into this game ready, steady and focused,” Ohio State sophomore outside hitter Sean Ryan said.
The most recent encounter between the two teams came a year ago, when the Buckeyes lost to the Trojans 3-2 in Los Angeles. At the time, Ohio State head coach Kevin Burch was an assistant. He said his position isn’t the only thing that has changed about the two programs.
“Both teams have changed quite a bit since the last time we’ve played each other. The Trojans lost three pretty important guys,” Burch said. “Also, a lot of our defensive systems have changed.”
During Ohio State’s five-game tear to open Burch’s tenure, its attack percentage was 34 percent compared to its opponent’s 15.
The Buckeyes have collected 25 service aces at a 1.56 per-set clip, which is tied for No. 16 in the nation.
“Our serving is phenomenal now,” Burch said. “I expect us to play a lot cleaner and have fewer errors this time around.”
The Buckeyes will need to account for USC sophomore outside hitter Billy Fauntleroy, who claims 32 kills of the team’s 157 season total.
“Fauntleroy can completely take over a match on his own. We really need to shut that kid down,” Burch said.
USC junior middle blocker Kyle Gear will also be a threat, with 40 total kills for the Trojan’s season.
So far this season, Ohio State has 203 total kills. The Buckeyes currently have three key outside hitters who have maintained more than 30 kills each this season, including redshirt junior Tyler Alter, junior Matt Lallemand and senior Reese Devilbliss.
Freshman middle hitter Samuel Clark is another Buckeye with more than 30 kills this season, sitting at No. 3 on the team with 33.
The Buckeyes’ biggest challenge yet starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday at USC.