The season for Ohio State women’s volleyball hasn’t been what most people expected.
After finishing last season with only 10 losses, the Buckeyes now have eight, including a recent loss to the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers on their home court. Plenty of games remain, but Ohio State faces a tough matchup against Maryland (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) at the Covelli Center Sunday.
For senior outside hitter Emily Londot, one of the keys to success against the Terrapins is highlighted with one phrase: “Just keep swinging.”
Maryland (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) is currently riding a two-match winning streak with victories over Rutgers and Michigan to open its Big Ten schedule.
Maryland’s success this season has come in large part due to its blocking, swatting 2.79 attacks per set — good for 12th in the nation. The Terrapin defensive front is led by a trio of middle blockers including junior Ellie Watson, freshman Eva Rohrbach and redshirt senior Anastasia Russ.
“I think they have a big block,” Ohio State senior middle blocker Rylee Rader said. “We’re going to continue to practice hitting high hands and finding ways to score against them.”
The two teams faced off once last year in a match where Maryland showed off its big blocking technique, racking up 17 as a team in its four-set victory over the Buckeyes.
“I think everyone gives us their best game, and Maryland definitely did that last year,” Londot said.
Offensively, the Terrapins hit at an efficient .281 clip — a top-20 mark in the nation. A key piece of that offense is senior outside hitter Sami Csire, who leads the team in kills per set with 3.06.
“She’s a really dominant outside,” Londot said. “She’s a big competitor, so it should be a great matchup.”
Her motto, “just keep swinging,” has rung true all season, as every Buckeye win has come while out-attacking their opponent, picking up more kills than their opponent in each victory.
“We’ve been speaking on being the attackers, being the aggressors,” Londot said.
According to Rader, that’s something the Buckeyes emphasize in every facet of the game. Rader also said it is necessary to stay solid on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think we’ve been saying all year that defense wins championships,” Rader said. “Our back line is super important, just being in the best position that they can to dig a hard-driven ball.”
Head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg said that defense, especially on the receiving end of serves, needs to be better after giving up eight service aces and 44 kills in their loss to Wisconsin.
“Serve, receive, I think our block needs to be better, and we can’t beat ourselves,” Oldenburg said.
The Buckeyes will look to earn their first home win Sunday against Maryland in their second home Big Ten matchup.
“The atmosphere was great last night,” Londot said. “We can’t wait to be back in Covelli again on Sunday.”