Ohio State men’s volleyball will stay home for a pair of games at the Covelli Center this weekend, but both will be against top 5 west coast opponents.
The No. 15 Buckeyes (8-1) take on No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (6-2) Friday before capping the weekend against No. 5 Long Beach State (5-1) Saturday at home during a four-team battle between the Big Ten and Big West conferences.
Ohio State head coach Kevin Burch said he’ll depend on junior outside hitter Martin Lallemand and senior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss, who are tied for the team lead in total individual season kills, with 91.
“We’re depending on Martin and Reese to be consistent and reliable,” Burch said. “I’m counting on them to be our focal points. I wouldn’t say we’re only relying on them, but they will be a huge part of our offensive decisions against these two upcoming teams.”
Lallemand and Devilbiss fuel a Buckeye offense that holds an attacking advantage on its upcoming opponents.
Ohio State totals 361 kills this season, while Long Beach State has just 309. UC Santa Barbara is closer with 356. In total digs, the Buckeyes possess 269, the 49ers have 238 and the Gauchos overpower both teams with 286.
UC Santa Barbara senior outside hitter Randy Deweese leads the team in kills with 90, while Long Beach State junior outside hitter Ethan Siegfried is the 49ers’ top attacker with 65.
While Deweese has two inches on Lallemand, the Buckeyes’ star outside hitter holds a three-inch height advantage against Siegfried.
“These teams will be quick, and we just have to be quick with them. We have to stay consistent and focus on our defense,” Ohio State freshman setter Michael Wright said.
The Buckeyes suffered their first loss of the season to UCLA Jan. 26 after beating six straight opponents up to that point.
However, Ohio State bounced back by demolishing Saint Francis and Penn State in three straight sets this past week.
Penn State is the fourth team in the competition this weekend, but Ohio State isn’t slated to face the Nittany Lions again until March 8.
With two more wins this weekend, Ohio State could ascend into the nation’s top 10 en route to a four-game winning streak.
The Buckeyes face UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. Friday before their game against Long Beach State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Covelli Center.