For the first time all season, Ohio State men’s volleyball is coming off a loss.
The Buckeyes (6-1) won’t get the luxury of recovering on their home court either, as they travel to Pennsylvania to take on Saint Francis (2-4) Friday and No. 7 Penn State (4-2) Saturday.
The Buckeyes suffered their first season loss this past Sunday against UCLA. In fact, it was just the second time they dropped a set this year.
Nevertheless, Ohio State has the chance to get back in the win column against a team it has already beaten in straight sets earlier this month –– Saint Francis.
“Our defensive stats are our main focus for Friday. I want to make sure we keep their kills to a minimum,” Ohio State head coach Kevin Burch said.
Ohio State hosted Saint Francis Jan. 9, and although the Buckeyes came out with the win, Saint Francis kept up with the Buckeyes statistically throughout the entire match. Saint Francis tied the Buckeyes in total assists, bested Ohio State in total digs and were two kills away from tying the Buckeye total.
The Buckeyes will have to put a stop to Saint Francis senior outside hitter Michael Fisher, who has 78 total kills so far for The Red Flash this season –– 30 more than the next top Saint Francis player. Fisher’s 78 kills are about a third of the team’s total.
“Our goal is to shut Fisher down right from the start,” Ohio State freshman middle blocker Samuel Clark said. “I feel like we did a pretty good job at that the last time we played them. We just need to come into this game with a lot of confidence and momentum, so that we can get the same ending result as the last time.”
In Penn State, though, Ohio State will be facing a team that ranks in the nation’s top 10 in kills per set (13.09), aces per set (1.09) and hitting percentage (.333). The Nittany Lions rank better in each category than the Buckeyes.
However, Ohio State is No. 9 in blocks per set, with 2.565, and Penn State is No. 25, at 2.045.
Penn State boasts three players in the nation’s top 30 in hitting percentage. Redshirt senior opposite hitter Calvin Mende hits .406, sophomore outside hitter Brett Wildman comes in at .381 and redshirt junior outside hitter Bobby Wilden’s boasts a .349 clip.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has just one player in the nation’s top 40, as junior outside hitter Martin Lallemand possesses a hitting percentage of .327 –– the best on the Buckeyes.
Ohio State and Saint Francis are set to begin at 7 p.m. in Loretto, Pennsylvania, while the Buckeyes have their shot at the Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. Saturday at University Park.