Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
The black veil covering the 2011 National Championship banner was lifted and the Ohio State men’s volleyball team fell in three sets the last time the Buckeyes faced off against Penn State.
The Nittany Lions will host OSU (12-5, 3-1) on Saturday and the team is ready for a chance at redemption.
“We just keep reminding the guys of what we need to work on,” said coach Pete Hanson. “When we do these things, we can play pretty good volleyball.”
PSU has shut out every opponent 3-0 after its Jan. 28 match against Pacific.
The 12-1 Nittany Lions’ only loss comes from a match at Lewis University in their third game of the season. The Flyers, who recently toppled OSU, took PSU in four sets.
The Buckeyes struggled with getting the ball to the setters in the last match up.
Three Nittany Lions tallied more than 10 kills in that game, while the OSU offensive powerhouse, senior opposite Shawn Sangrey, added only 10 himself.
“We need to keep eliminating errors, keep playing together and keep playing to our strengths,” Sangrey said.
As the No. 5-ranked team in the country, PSU’s stability at the net is what continues to stifle its opponents. The Nittany Lions have recorded less than half of OSU’s 54 receiving errors and have a 13.43 kills per set advantage.
The Buckeyes, led by junior middle blocker Grayson Overman, have the benefit of a stronger blocking game with 2.4 per set.
Although they compete in difference conferences, the two teams have a long history together, starting with their first contest on April 3, 1971, when OSU swept the match.
Since then, the Buckeyes have accumulated a losing record, 32-65-1, against the Nittany Lions winning only two matches at State College, Pa. in the last 12 games held there.
That number includes a trip to the NCAA semifinals in 2011 when the home team fell to the Scarlet and Gray, 3-1.
Coming off a big win against conference rival Loyola-Chicago, OSU players said they are hoping to ride the momentum of fundamental execution into the weekend.
“I’m excited about playing Penn State this weekend after losing to them already this season,” said redshirt freshman setter Peter Heinen. “We’re just preparing like we did against Loyola, getting ready to see certain shots from certain players and learn how to play against them.”
Before taking on PSU, the Buckeyes will travel to Loretto, Pa., to face the St. Francis Red Flash Friday. Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m.