The No. 12 Ohio State women’s volleyball team is scheduled to hit the road this weekend for its first two away matches of Big Ten play.
OSU is coming off its first loss of the season, which came Sunday against then-No. 15 Michigan State, after the Buckeyes opened conference play with a 3-1 victory over then-No. 10 Michigan Sept. 27.
The Buckeyes (13-1, 1-1) are scheduled to play No. 24 Purdue Friday at 7 p.m. in West Lafayette, Ind., before heading to Bloomington, Ind., for a match against unranked Indiana at the same time Saturday.
Coming off of its first loss, sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell said she expects OSU to bounce back this weekend.
“I’d say we definitely have a positive outlook,” she said. “You can only ride on a high for so long.”
Even though the team finally received a mark in the “L” column against the Spartans, it is not purely negative.
“It would be great to go 33-0 for a season, but I think having those bumps in the road as we go, it’s a good thing,” Mitchell said. “It’s healthy.”
Purdue and Indiana lost each of their first two matches in conference play, but that by no means gives OSU the opportunity to approach them lightly, coach Geoff Carlston said.
“There’s a lot of good teams that are 0-2 in our conference,” he said. “They’re both really good teams, and they’re both very different teams.”
Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said the Buckeyes have to avoid overlooking an opponent, and said the focus will be on Purdue in practice.
“We take it one game at a time,” she said. “Purdue is our first opponent, so we do focus on them first.”
Carlston agreed, but noted that Indiana will be better-rested for the Buckeyes Saturday.
“We’ll focus on them (Purdue) first, but the problem is Indiana plays Thursday and then we play them, so Indiana has a whole day off,” he said.
Without the luxury of getting a day to rest, keeping energy levels at a high level against the Hoosiers is important, senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo said.
“We have to play really hard on Friday and then we have to play even harder on Saturday,” said. “That’s the main thing we need to learn in the Big Ten, because no game is a light game.”
The Big Ten has eight teams ranked in the top 25 of the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Two of them, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 5 Penn State, also received at least one first place vote.
Sherwin said she is not necessarily worried about road trips or the high competition of the Big Ten, and recognizes the impact a road win can have on a team.
“I love playing on the road because you do come into someone else’s gym, or house you could say,” she said. “It’s just so much more of a statement when we beat someone on the road.”
Sherwin leads the Buckeyes with 634 assists on the year while senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary has tallied a team high 271 kills and freshman right side hitter Taylor Sandbothe has added 126 kills of her own.
Defensively, three OSU players have already tallied triple-digit digs. Senior libero Davionna DiSalvatore has 203, Mandolfo has 145 and Leary has chipped in 132.
After their trip to the Hoosier state, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return to Columbus for matches against No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 8 Minnesota Oct. 11 and 12.