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Women’s Volleyball: No. 7 Ohio State hosts back-to-back ranked opponents

The Lantern
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Ohio State middle blocker Arica Davis (14) celebrates after scoring a point during the Ohio State-Indiana game Sept. 29. Ohio State won 3-0. Credit: Gabe Haferman | Asst. Photo Editor

The No. 7 Ohio State women’s volleyball team faces its toughest home weekend yet against No. 11 Minnesota Thursday and No. 9 Nebraska Saturday.

Ohio State (18-4) looks to earn wins over ranked opponents after going 2-6 against ranked opponents this season. The Buckeyes are 8-4 in the Big Ten Conference standings, which has them tied for fourth place with Purdue, Illinois and Penn State.

“We’re in those big matches against ranked opponents and it’s just about closing,” head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg said. “For us, it’s can we finish plays, can we create opportunities for ourselves and not rely on the other team to either score points for themselves or for us.”

The Buckeyes take on Minnesota (14-6) at 7 p.m. in the Covelli Center Thursday. The Gophers are 9-3 in the Big Ten Conference standings, which puts them in third place after beating Nebraska in five sets Saturday.

Ohio State trails in the all-time series 34-49 against Minnesota after dropping in four sets to the Gophers on the road Oct. 24. The match was tightly contested, despite the Buckeyes making more errors than Minnesota and the Gophers doubling the Buckeyes in service aces.

The Buckeyes hold a 20-18 record when playing Minnesota in Columbus. Watch out for four-time All-American and former Big Ten Player of the Year redshirt senior opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy. Also, expect All-American senior libero CC McGraw to make an impact in the back row.

On Saturday, the Buckeyes face Nebraska (16-5) at 7 p.m. in the Covelli Center. The Huskers are 10-2 in the Big Ten Conference, which ties them for first place in the standings with No. 4 Wisconsin. Nebraska will travel to No. 25 Illinois Thursday before coming to Columbus.

Ohio State trails Nebraska 8-16 in the all-time series and is 1-8 against the Huskers when playing in Columbus. The teams will meet for the first time in the fall season, but split a pair of five-setters in Nebraska during the spring season.

Watch out for three-time All-American senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins. Also, expect the Nebraska defensive trio to not let a ball hit the floor — junior defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles, sophomore defensive specialist Keonilei Akana and freshman libero Lexi Rodriguez.

“We have a good group right here and we’re ready to keep working and keep playing,” junior setter Mac Podraza said. “I think what I said originally — ‘everybody should watch out for Ohio State,’ — is still true, and I think we’re making our names known and we’re putting Buckeye volleyball back on the map.”

The Minnesota match will broadcast on the Big Ten Network and the Nebraska match will broadcast on Big Ten Plus.

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