Will the third time actually be the charm for the Ohio State men’s volleyball team?
The Buckeyes are preparing to redeem themselves in what be their third match against Penn State in 2014, after falling to the Nittany Lions in previous matches 3-0 and 3-1.
“The past two matches we played them this season we lost, one in Hawaii and one at their place,” redshirt-freshman middle blocker Driss Guessous said. “The last match was very close and could have gone either way. Speaking for me personally, I have been looking forward to getting another shot at them since that last match.”
OSU played the Nittany Lions Jan. 11 in Hawaii and Feb. 5 at State College.
Coach Pete Hanson said he hopes the team has learned from its previous mistakes made against Penn State, and will improve on them in Friday’s match.
“We had a chance to win some of those games and perhaps win the match. We just didn’t make enough of the right types of plays at the end of the games, and again those are lessons that these young guys just have to keep going through and learn over time, and hopefully we have learned some of them and are going to be better,” Hanson said. “It will be a competitive match.”
Redshirt-junior setter Peter Heinen said the Buckeyes have a solid understanding of how the Nittany Lions play.
“We have seen this team play many times the past couple of years and know their tendencies very well,” Heinen said. “We just need to be able to execute our scouting report and play hard with a lot of energy.”
Heinen said the Nittany Lions’ style of play is comparable to OSU’s.
“We are both hard-hitting teams,” Heinen said. “So it will be an exciting match to watch as both teams work to outhit each other.”
The coaches and players on each team know each other well, which leads to an intense rivalry, Hanson said. Penn State assistant coach Colin McMillan is a former Buckeye player who was coached by Hanson.
The players on both teams also have had history competing with or against each other since their early volleyball careers, which makes this rivalry even stronger, Guessous said.
“They (Penn State) are able to recruit great players and a lot of guys that we have played with or against in high school,” Guessous said. “That also contributes to the heightened atmosphere whenever we play those guys, because for a lot of us, it’s personal.”
The Buckeyes are preparing for another tough match this week, after losing to No. 15 IPFW 3-2 Wednesday. However, OSU will not have a problem playing with high energy and confidence Friday despite the loss, Guessous said.
“The match is going to be a grind. It is going to come down to which team has more desire, hustle, and a little bit of luck. This is one of those matches where it is easier to get fired up to play and I think that will be reflected through the effort we show in our plays,” Guessous said.
The match is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena.