The undefeated and #1-ranked Penn State Women’s Volleyball team will be in Columbus Ohio tonight for a match against the Ohio State Buckeyes (2-2 in the Big Ten, 14-3 overall). The match, which is the first of a four-match road trip for the Nittany Lions, is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Ohio State’s St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes are led by 5-10 Jr. OH Katie Dull, who is first on the team with 4.61 points and 3.92 kills/set. 6-2 Sr. MB Kristen Dozier ranks second on the team in both points (3.12/set) and kills (2.60/set), and leads the team with a .346 hitting percentage. 6-1 Fr. OH Emily Danks is averaging 2.14 kills/set on .323 hitting. 6-0 Fr. Setter Amanda Peterson averages 9.76 assists/set and leads the team with .52 aces per set.
5-9 Sr. L/DS Chelsea Noble leads Ohio State with a 3.79 digs/set, followed by Dull at 2.27/set. Dozier leads the team with .80 blocks/set, including eight solo blocks and 40 assists. Danks is second at .61 with three solos and 33 assists.
Ohio State faced both Iowa and Wisconsin last week, with mixed results. The Badgers upset Ohio State 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25) on Oct. 2nd, but the Buckeyes rebounded to sweep Iowa 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-22) on Oct. 3rd. Based only on those results, the Buckeyes are both worse than Penn State, and better.
Without question, Penn State will be favored, but it’s worth remembering that the Buckeyes almost took a set from Penn State last year, losing 30-28 in the third set on November 28, 2008. In that game, the Nittany Lions were led by OH Nicole Fawcett (13 kills), OH Megan Hodge (12 kills) and MH Arielle Wilson (11 kills on .625 hitting). MH Christa Harmotto totaled eight kills (hitting .538), while Opp. Blair Brown had six kills (hitting .455). Penn State hit .463 for the match.
So the big question for Nittany Lion fans is how Penn State will react to losing a set to Iowa last Friday, and whether they will play with the determination and passion Head Coach Russ Rose says they need to succeed in the Big Ten and at an elite level nationally. Here’s a film clip of the Iowa and Wisconsin matches, and Junior MH Arielle Wilson discussing lessons learned from the Iowa match:
If the Nittany Lions come out flat, and let Ohio State (and the crowd) start to believe, this one could be tough.
Here’s where Penn State Ohio State rank, as teams and for their individual team leaders, in various NCAA statistical categories: