Match Preview: Ohio State

Who: Penn State (22-0 overall, 10-0 Big Ten) vs. Ohio State (17-6 overall, 5-5 Big Ten)
Where: Rec Hall
When: 7 p.m. — televised live by the Big Ten Network (Frank Giardina and Elizabeth Moreau).

About the Buckeyes: 5-10 Jr. OH Katie Dull’s 4.57 points per set and 3.94 kills per set averages lead Ohio State, followed by Kristen Dozier’s 2.95 points and 2.44 kills per set averages. 6-1 Fr. OH Emily Danks’ .298 hitting percentage tops the team (Dozier is second at .296). 5-9 Sr. Setter Ashley Hughes was named Co-Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on October 26th, following Ohio State’s 3-1 victories over Purdue (25-19, 23-25, 26-24, 25-18) and Indiana (25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23). Hughes averages 9.65 assists per set (6-0 Fr. Setter Amanda Peterson is second at 9.18, followed by 5-9 Jr. Setter Betsy Hone at 8.13). Peterson leads the Buckeyes with .49 aces per set, followed by Danks at .40. Dozier leads the team with .80 blocks per set, followed by Dull at .58.

About Penn State: During Friday’s Indiana match, ESPNU analyst Karch Kiraly had nothing but praise for Penn State and, in particular, 6-3 Sr. OH Megan Hodge and 6-0 Sr. Setter Alisha Glass, whom he coached for three weeks this past summer when they trained with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. Kiraly said that during those three weeks, both Hodge and Glass were close to being the best (and may have been the best) player at their respective positions.

They are both great players, but Penn State isn’t a two-person show. 6-5 Jr. Opp. Blair Brown is starting to elevate her level of play (both figuratively and literally), which, as Head Coach Russ Rose often says, is critical if Penn State is going to compete at the highest level. 6-3 Jr. MH Arielle Wilson continues to lead the NCAA in hitting percentage (.586 — are you kidding me? I don’t care who Penn State played, that’s amazing!) and ranks 6th nationally in blocking (6-3 Jr. MH Fatima Balza ranks 15th), 5-9 Jr. Libero Alyssa D’Errico is up to 7th nationally in aces/set, and continues to provide great back row play, as does 5-1 Jr. DS Cathy Quilico. 6-2 Fr. OH Darcy Dorton played a solid match against Purdue after a tough match against Indiana last Friday.

The Last Time: Penn State defeated the Buckeyes 3-1 on October 7th at Ohio State’s St. John Arena, bringing Penn State all-time record against the Buckeyes to 33-14. Here are video highlights from the October 7th match:

Penn State’s NCAA-record winning streak is now at 86 consecutive matches, with their home match winning streak at 64 and their Big Ten winning streak at a Big Ten record 55 straight.

The Skinny: The Buckeyes managed to take a set from Penn State at St. Johns Arena. If the Nittany Lions continue their improved play, with the energy and intensity they showed against Purdue, Ohio State won’t replicate that accomplishment. When Penn State plays up to its potential, it is a very, very good team.

We don’t think the question in this match is whether the Nittany Lions will win (they will), but whether they will continue to improve and play with emotion and intensity. That’s what it will take if they are to have success in the NCAA tournament. We’ll see.

Stat Joust

Here’s how the Ohio State and Penn State teams and individual players compared statistically, as of October 24th: