The Ohio State women’s volleyball team has a lot on the table at this weekend’s tournament – redemption against Wyoming, a shot at taking down a top-10 opponent and playing in the same venue where the NCAA Final Four will be held in December.
Wyoming gave OSU its first loss in a 3-1 match to open the Buckeyes’ season in 2015. The Cowgirls have started off this fall 1-3, compared to OSU’s 3-0.
OSU will face Wyoming in their second match of the Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic in Columbus, following a bout with LIU Brooklyn (0-3).
The Buckeye “tribe” is choosing not to worry too much about the past though and will be focusing on perfecting themselves in order to play its best game.
“We’re a new team, they’re a new team. I think focusing on the Buckeyes and our side of the net, the things we can control … that’ll help us ease into this weekend,” said senior middle blocker, Taylor Sandbothe.
Sandbothe already has a lot to show for this season – Big 10 Player of the Week and all-tournament team at the North Texas Challenge and a career-high 32 points last weekend against a No. 16 Texas A&M squad – but she attributes all of her success to her fellow Buckeyes.
“Without the girls standing behind me, without our coaching staff, there is no Taylor Sandbothe,” she said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of that kind of stuff, but it just speaks volumes of what our team is and what our coaching staff instills in us.”
No. 11 OSU will also take on No. 10 Brigham Young University in the final match of the tournament on Saturday, marking the second time already this season that OSU will face a top-25 opponent. BYU dominates the history between the two schools at 7-0.
Despite the record books, the Buckeyes feel they are capable of taking on the tough competition. They look forward to using non-conference games to prepare for later in the season.
“I think because these teams are a lot different than the Big 10 teams, it’s kind of like us building our resume, our tool box,” said junior outside hitter, Luisa Schirmer. “That will help us later down the road when we’re struggling against a Big 10 team.”
Schirmer is hitting .259 on the season and accounts for 28 OSU kills. She was also named to the D.C. Koehl Classic all-tournament team during her freshman year.
Schirmer’s face lit up when she was asked about the opportunity to play at Nationwide Arena. If the team were to make the Final Four, the team will be playing at the same location in December.
“I’ve been in there for a Blue Jackets game, but the fact that we get to be down on that court is going to be crazy,” she said. “I really hope there will be a lot of people there to cheer us on.”
OSU head coach Geoff Carlston echoed Schirmer, acknowledging the gravity the weekend holds for his team.
“I think it’ll make it real that the Final Four is here as soon as we walk in and go to practice at Nationwide,” he said. “That vision of being there in the Final Four will become more crystallized.”
Carlston added he hopes the tournament will draw fans from the first Buckeye football game, also on Saturday in Columbus.
This weekend’s tournament carries with it a long-lasting legacy. The Sports Imports
Classic’s name was changed to the Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic in 2012 to honor D.C. Koehl, a figurehead in the OSU athletic department for almost 40 years.
Koehl had a deep passion for volleyball, serving as the sport’s communication director for three decades. He passed away in 2012, but his namesake and fervor will live on through the tournament – the first home match for his much-loved Buckeyes.
OSU is set to play at noon on Friday against LIU Brooklyn at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.