St. John Arena is set to host the Ohio State women’s volleyball team for the first time this season during the 10th Annual Sports Import D.C. Koehl Classic.
The 22nd-ranked Buckeyes (2-1) are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, facing off against Northern Illinois (3-1) at noon and No. 14 Florida State (2-1) at 7 p.m., before playing the Seminoles again on Sunday at 7 p.m.
OSU is coming off of a second-place finish at the Rumble in the Rockies tournament in Laramie, Wyoming. The Buckeyes fell to Wyoming in their opening game, but they bounced back to defeat both Butler and South Dakota in three sets.
OSU coach Geoff Carlston said he’s happy with the way his team responded to the initial loss and is ready to be at home for the first time this season.
“I’m excited for the team, especially our freshmen,” Carlston said. “We played in front of a huge crowd, actually, at Wyoming, but to play in front of a large crowd that’s your home and not at a mile high is going to be much better for us.”
Setter Emily Ruetter, a senior transfer from Texas Tech, said she’s excited for her first home match in a Buckeyes uniform and thinks the home crowd will give the team a boost.
“It’s so much better playing on your home floor,” Ruetter said. “Based off what I’ve heard, St. John brings in quite an awesome crowd, so it’s going to be even better having all of those people here.”
Junior libero Valeria León, who, along with junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe, was named to the all-tournament squad at the Rumble in the Rockies, is focused on helping her team more moving forward.
“I don’t really care about the individual awards, I just try to make my team better,” León said. “So I’m going to keep working on that.”
As the team heads into this weekend’s games, OSU has been working on improving its blocking, shot selection and overall consistency on defense, Carlston said.
“I think (in) the Wyoming match, we just sort of forgot the things that we can do, and that will happen when you’ve got people in your face,” he said.
The Buckeyes had 21 shots blocked by the Cowgirls in their season-opening match.
Carlston said the team has to go back to what is worked on in practice for the upcoming matches and improve overall confidence, trust and consistency.
Junior outside hitter Kylie Randall did not play in any of last weekend’s matches as she works her way back after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last season and an elbow injury that she sustained in the team’s first practices this year.
There’s no timetable for Randall’s return to games, but she is practicing and Carlston is pleased with her progress.
“She’s back, full-go and she’s looking pretty good, actually, for a kid who’s played six times over the last (year),” he said.
The rest of the team is feeling well from a health standpoint, Carlston said.
Following this weekend’s action in Columbus, OSU is set to head back out on the road for the Blackbird Invitational in Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 11 and 12.