The No. 3 seed Ohio State women’s volleyball team has lost four consecutive matches and is set to face a streaking Tennessee State team Friday that has won its last seven and won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in 3-2 for all three rounds.
The Buckeyes (19-9, 15-5 Big Ten) lost a 14 match win-streak after losing both of their last two weekend series. In spite of the recent drought, senior outside hitters Jenaiysa Moore and Adria Powell said they are confident in their team.
“Our goal is different now, and so everybody else wants that same goal so everyone is going to go two times harder,” Moore said. “It’s just a matter of how we come together.”
The Buckeyes hit .233 and .173 in the final two sets, improving from .122 in the first and sub-.000 in the second, against No. 3 Wisconsin Saturday. Moore and Powell combined for 10 kills.
Entering the postseason, Powell said she thinks the Buckeyes began to refind their groove in the final sets last weekend.
“There were a lot of moments in the game when we were playing Buckeye volleyball,” Powell said. “It was a good game leading into the tournament because we got back our style of play and our grit.”
Powell said the last match against the Badgers, who earned a No. 1 seed, was challenging, but good moments were taken away from it.
Moore said getting their confidence back has been helpful, and they won’t focus on what their recent play has been, noting their philosophy for the year has been to move on to the next point.
“We just trust each other, lean on each other and trust that we’re going to do our job at the end of the day,” Moore said.
Tigers senior outside hitter Johanna Alcantara leads Tennessee State (19-15, 10-8 Ohio Valley) offensively, averaging 3.8 kills per set.
As a team, Ohio State’s offense averages 14.12 kills per set while allowing 12.22. In comparison, Tennessee State averages 12.44 kills per set and allows 11.84.
Powell said there is a lot of confidence that comes from the Buckeyes’ Big Ten-leading defense, which averages 15.89 digs a set.
“I don’t think that it will be a huge problem,” Powell said. “We’ve been talking about the pins, being aggressive and going for it.”
Moore said that the team is excited to host the opening rounds of the tournament, but is prepared for tough road environments.
Ohio State can host its first two games in the tournament if it wins the first match against Tennessee State. The Buckeyes will be on road for the remainder of the season, but they’re familiar with being on the road having played 10-straight road matchups after opening the year at home against then-No. 2 Texas.
“In the beginning of the season we created our own atmosphere,” Moore said. “We were really locked in together, knowing everybody else is against us.”
The winner of the Ohio State and Tennessee State match will play the winner of the USC and High Point University match Saturday at the Covelli Center at 6 p.m.
Moore said Ohio State needs to have an underdog mentality to make a run in the tournament. She said walking into a gym thinking the opposite will hurt the team’s performance.
“I’m really excited for us to see how far we go —, and hopefully win a natty,” Moore said.
The Buckeyes begin their NCAA Tournament run Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Tennessee State. ESPN+ will broadcast.